Trevor Denton

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Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, 1970, University of Toronto. Denton was a faculty member of Brandon University, chairing the Anthropology Department in 1977-1980, now retired and currently residing at 657 Water Peterborough, ON K9H 3N2. He wrote some outstanding articles on long-range trends in human society using probabilistic inference to extrapolate instances of sigmoidal change over time from low frequency to high frequency items.


Denton, Trevor D. 2008. Modernization Magnitude: An Interval Measure Applicable to Post- and Pre-Industrial Societies.;volume=16;issue=2

Denton, Trevor. 2008. Society to 2050 AD: Anthropological Forecasts Extrapolating Correlates of Modernization. World Cultures eJournal 16(1): 62-122.;volume=16;issue=1

Galton's Problem

2007 Denton, Trevor Yet another solution to Galton's problem. Cross-Cultural Research, Vol. 41, No. 1, 32-45.

Other Pubs

1993 Denton, Trevor. Long-Range Time Series of Culture and Society. Cross-Cultural Research 27(1-2):5-27. Results for social class and jurisdictional levels.

1994 Denton, Trevor. Kinship, marriage and the family: eight time series, 35000 B.C. to 2000 A.D. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 35(3-4):240-51.

(Will be available from the author. Author notes: Trends valid but not the correlations)

1995. Denton, Trevor. War: long range time series by conditioning. International Journal of Comparative Sociology. Author notes: Trends valid but not the correlations
Abstract: Six long range time series of war are presented. The time series extend from 35,000 B.C. to 2,000 A.D. The time series consist of probabilities that a discrete random variable X=x,x= 1,2,.... The method used to construct probabilities is conditioning on a discrete random variable Y, y=1,2,3 which is observable both in the archaeological record and in an ethnographic cross-cultural data base. Assumptions required by the method are clarified. An historical time series of literacy is constructed and used to support the assertion of good fit of the war time series to the empirical world.

Have paper 1996. Denton, Trevor. Social Differentiation: A Speculative Birth and Death Process Hypothesis. Quantitative Anthropology 6(4).

Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to construct a class of mathematical models for social differentiation. Social differentiation is primarily occupational differentiation since it is primarily occupations which increase in number when parts of society become differentiated. Increase in number of occupations is modelled as a birth and death process under constraints. Occupations beget occupations. New occupations not only pave the technological way for more new occupations, they create new opportunities of sub-specializations and create demand for new suppliers of specialized goods and services. It is an environment of consumer demand for efficiencies which drives the strain to specialization in a population of occupations but the process is ultimately limited by the limits which methods of food and energy production place on differentiation. Band forager, horticultural and preindustrial intensive agricultural societies each seem to have their own constraints. Occupations in industrial societies seem to be differentiating without constraint or with constraints which are undiscernible at present. Deterministic models (with error) and stochastic process models are constructed from narrative conceptualization. Attempts forcefully to test the birth and death process hypothesis are impeded at the moment by unavailability of clean Archaeological and historical data. Therefore, the birth and death process hypothesis remains a speculative hypothesis. However, the hypothesis is fitted to a variety of messy data in ways which, although they do not test the hypothesis, illuminate and support it in an encouraging way. As new Archaeological and historical data come into existence so also will new opportunities to test and refine the hypothesis.

Have paper 1998 Denton, Trevor. Social and Structural Differentiation: Conceptualization and Measurement. Cross-Cultural Research 32(1):37-78. :

A measure of differentiation (occupational and productive specialization/interdependency) is developed, but no cross-cultural codes have been produced from these operational definitions.

Have paper 1999 Denton, Trevor. Photo Essay. Long Range Forecast of Society and Culture: Four Quantitative Methods from Cultural Antrhropology. Anthropologica.

Have paper 2002 Denton, T. Indirect reconstruction of prehistory by quantitative, ethnographic analogy: Methods using correlates of strictly increasing elementary societal processes. World Cultures, 13(2), 110-146.

2003 Denton, T. Reconstruction of prehistory by quantitative, ethnographic analogy: An illustration using division of labor. Unpublished manuscript. (Will be available from the author.)

Have paper 2004 Denton, Trevor. Cultural Complexity Revisited. Cross-Cultural Research 38(1): 3-26.
Abstract: Cultural complexity has been defined in at least two different ways. First, Murdock and Provost conceptualized cultural complexity not as a single construct but rather as a set of constructs by which societies may be distinguished along the lines of known developmental sequences. Second, many anthropologists have conceptualized cultural complexity as a single construct along the lines of Spencerian differentiation/interdependence or (more loosely) as cultural heterogeneity. Chick made several criticisms of past treatments of cultural complexity but, nevertheless, assumed cultural complexity to be a single construct. In the present article, the approach of Murdock is reasserted. With this approach, Chick’s criticisms disappear. It is shown why the subject area traditionally thought of as cultural complexity has so many impacts on other parts of culture.

2007 Denton, Trevor. Yet Another Solution to Galton's Problem. Cross-Cultural Research 41(1):32-45.

2007. Denton, Trevor. Society to 2050 AD: Anthropological Forecasts Extrapolating Correlates of Modernization. World Cultures 16(1): 62-122.

2007. Denton, Trevor. Behavioral relations for components of recent preindustrial modernization: Quantitative assessment. Ethnology 45(3): 229-254.

2007. Denton, Trevor. Unit of observation in cross-cultural research: Implications for sampling and aggregated data analysis. Cross-Cultural Research 41(1): 3-31.

2007 jrnl Ethnology: another new paper coming out will cover warfare.

2007 Denton, Trevor. Unit of Observation in Cross-Cultural Research. Cross-Cultural Research 41(1):3-31.

2008. Denton, Trevor. Indexes of Validity and Reliability for Cross-Societal Measures. Cross-Cultural Research 42(2): 118-147.

2008. Denton, Trevor. Modernization Magnitude: An Interval Measure Applicable to Post- and Pre-Industrial Societies. World Cultures eJournal 16(2). Article 6

Note from Doug

One result relevant to my summer 2007 lectures is that Overall Frequency of War is predicted to decline. External and Internal war are not distinguished