Psychohistory is a predictive, stochastic theory of history. It is as rigorous and mathematically intensive as any theory of the physical universe.
Psychohistory uses measurements of human behavior and descriptions of human nature to predict future events. The larger the group being predicted, the more accurate the forecasts. Most psychohistorians study either the gentle trends of human cultures or the crisis events that shape history.
Psychohistory is, in general, a calming influence on the universe. Both crisis points and general trends can be manipulated by those with an understanding of psychohistory. Few cultures would choose war, and this science provides an alternative means of disputation between civilizations that results in fewer deaths and more certain outcomes. Modern events are constantly shaped by social pressures that are continuously applied by dozens of organizations, each looking to gain in a particular manner.
Groups with more sophisticated methods can apply historical pressures more subtly and from greater distances (in terms of levels of deniability). Thus, the most powerful and stable civilizations tend to be those with a strong understanding of psychohistory. Those groups with a lesser Metatech rating tend to be tossed about by the whims of their peers, calmed by some and whipped into action by others.
Psychohistory provides an excellent plot driver. Characters can be pointed toward crisis points and attempt to tip the balance.
Psychohistory relies on a known baseline for its subjects – details must be gathered about the population over time, from psychological profiles to historical trends. An undiscovered human civilization would be very difficult to predict at first; an alien one, more so. Psychohistory also becomes inaccurate as the group size shrinks, becoming useless on groups of less than a thousand individuals. Even on very large groups it is only a statistical science, predicting things that may occur and their probabilities of occurrence.
Because psychohistory involves large numbers of individuals, it is also susceptible to historical inertia. Events are easier to change with a long lead time, and very difficult to change in the short run. Crisis events give a way around this, allowing for swifter but less certain change.
Slight shifts in events must constantly be refactored into psychohistorical predictions. Large organizations commonly delegate a group of high-level digital intelligences to monitor these constant developments and the outcomes. These DIs typically share in the larger group’s Core Values, but are fairly diverse beyond that, to provide a multitude of viewpoints. Particularly animistic civilizations may treat this DI cloud as an oracle.
Characters leading a psychohistorical operations unit can engage in conflict against groups with Infrastructure II or III.
Core Tech: Metatech