A historical Pachinko machine, a relative of Francis Galton's Quincunx and the AAKKOZZLL, and the predecessor of the widely popular amusement in today's Japan. Click here for more info – photo by Gnsin.


Lambert A.J. Quetelet
Are human actions regulated by fixed laws?

Maurice G. Kendall
I propose to discuss the extent to which we observe laws of behaviour in social phenomena.

Matthew Nuenke
Every person born is a highly probabilistic creature.

B.F. Skinner
In the scientific picture, a person does not act upon the world, the world acts upon him.

Frederick Soddy
The laws of thermodynamics control the general physical welfare of the human race.

Hollis R. Cooley et al
Knowledge of the nature of mathematical method pays dividends to the average man who seeks to understand and cope with political, religious, and economic problems

Walter Lippmann
How opinions are crystallized into what is called Public Opinion, how a National Will, a Group Mind, a Social Purpose, or whatever you choose to call it, is formed.

Joshua M. Epstein
Perhaps one day people will interpret the question, “Can you explain it?” as asking, “Can you grow it?”

Ivars Peterson
We can grow [complex, recognizable behavior] with incredibly simple rules and simple agents.


Designing Freedom,
by Stafford Beer

By advocating a new insistence on variety reducing methods which worked in a bygone epoch, we advocate precisely the wrong thing, and seal our doom. THIS is the real threat to all we hold most dear. (full text online)

Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies
International Workshop Proceedings

Presentations made at at the estate of the Fondation des Treilles in Toutour, France, to discuss issues concerning the role of science in the development of modern societies. (full text online)

Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences
by Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security

One of the most important things that the intelligence community can learn from the behavioral and social sciences is how to characterize and evaluate its analytic assumptions, methods, technologies, and management practices. (full text online)

Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations
by Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security

The papers in this volume provide the detailed evidentiary base for the National Research Council's report, Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences. (full text online)

The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary
by Committee on Advancing Social Science Theory: The Importance of Common Metrics

Summary of the presentations and discussions that took place during a workshop to investigate the feasibility of developing well-grounded common metrics to advance behavioral and social science research. (full text online)

Modeling Complex Systems for Public Policies
edited by Bernardo Alves Furtado et al

Most objects of public policies – whether economic, urban, environmental or political – can be viewed as complex systems. Thus, if public policies’ objects can be seen as complex systems, their understanding may benefit from the use of associated methodologies, such as network analysis, agent-based modeling, numerical simulation, game theory, pattern formation and many others within the realm of complex systems. (full text online)


A Tale of Two Thermos Bottles: properties of a genetic model for human intelligence,
by C.C. Li

Only very strong social and environmental forces can perpetuate an artificial class; heredity does not. From this point of view, social forces are more conservative than hereditary ones. (pdf)

Double standards: the history of standardizing humans in modern life insurance
by Martin Lengwiler

Why study the case of life insurance? Following the works of Lorraine Daston, Ted Porter, and Ian Hacking, life insurance can be understood as a crucial institution for the rise of,modern statistical and probabilistic thinking. (Daston 1988; Porter 1986; Porter 2000; Hacking,1990)

Ethical implications of the laws of pattern abundance distribution
by Stephan R.P. Halloy and Jeffrey A. Lockwood

The purpose of this paper is three-fold: 1) to briefly describe the nature of power and lognormal distributions as a case-study in complexity theory, 2) to explore the overt and subtle use of the naturalistic fallacy as a means by which scientists derive moral principles from empirical foundations, and 3) to examine the role of free-will in the context of natural law as a means of escaping a nihilistic determinism.

The wisdom of herds: How social mood moves the world
by John Casti

To see what our world might be like tomorrow, next year or next decade, we need to spend time and money investigating "social mood."

Between Momentum and Control: a dynamic of democracy
by Allenna Leonard

Cybernetics, or governance, is a means to encourage and channel human behavior for the common good.

Accelerating Scientific Discovery by Formulating Grand Scientific Challenges
by Dirk Helbing

An initiative to stimulate and focus the efforts of many scientists by formulating Grand Challenges, a set of fundamental, relevant and hardly solvable scientific questions in the social sciences.

Quetelet on the Science of Man
by E. B. Tylor

The Belgian astronomer Quetelet introduced the doctrine that human actions, even those usually considered most arbitrary, are in fact subordinate to general laws of human nature.


The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You
If we study patterns, not people, then rules emerge that explain how movements form, how interest groups operate and even why ethnic hatred persists.

Wisdom of the Crowds
Ask enough people to estimate something, and the average of their guesses will get you close to the right answer.

Did you know?
Dynamic presentation on the accelerating pace of technological and social change.

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats
Animated representation of income and life expectancy trends.

Economic Inequality
Peter Joseph talks about the effect of income inequality, leading to psycho-social stress and crime.

Two Americas - Economic Inequality in American Society
James Heckman talks about the GINI coefficient of inequality, and priorities for change.

No More Boring Data
Hans Rosling uses an amazing new presentation tool, Gapminder, to present data that debunks several myths about world development.


World statistics updated in real time.

Parable of the Polygons
by Vi Hart and Nicki Case

Creative simulation demonstrates how minor preferences regarding diversity create dramatic social effects. (Also see Thomas C. Schelling and the Computer)


A Cultural History of Causality: Science, Murder Novels, and Systems of Thought
by Stephen Kern

Causality is a centerpiece of the inquiring human mind, so fundamental to human understanding and so universal in its explanatory function that it would seem to transcend any historical development.


Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)
A cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress for over 250 years.

Understanding Uncertainty
Chance, risk, luck, uncertainty and probability.

A non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Virtual Human Interaction Lab
The dynamics and implications of interactions among people in immersive virtual reality simulations.