Alternate histories

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Andrew
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Andrew » 09 Aug 2015, 14:41

Randroid 2.0 wrote:In the early 1900s? :)

Edit: lightly ribbing Mo here.

Sent from my iBone, to beat Warren to the punch.
Given Tunguska and that meteorite everyone recorded on their dashcams, there was a remarkably good run of nothing big hitting Russia to trigger nuclear armageddon.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Randroid 2.0 » 09 Aug 2015, 15:06

Truth.


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Re: Alternate histories

Post by thoreau » 09 Aug 2015, 15:17

Imagine a history where Rome is hit by a meteor in 1908. Or Mecca. Or Jerusalem.

(And let's not quibble about latitude. A small tweak to the trajectory could have sent it to anywhere on earth.)
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Jennifer » 09 Aug 2015, 15:25

thoreau wrote:Imagine a history where Rome is hit by a meteor in 1908. Or Mecca. Or Jerusalem.
In 1908, even though science knew enough to accurately explain what caused the problem (they wouldn't necessarily know how to tell the difference between a comet or asteroid strike, but they did know that space is full of rocks capable of hitting us), I'm pretty sure the majority of religious non-scientists who did not subscribe to the religion of the destroyed holy city would take that as proof of God's disapproval.

But I'd be curious to see how many people gave up their own religion as a result, though. "As a formerly devout Catholic, I realize the destruction of Rome proves the Protestants were right!" "As a former Muslim, I realize the destruction of Mecca proves I was wrong about Allah!"

Speculation: destroying Jerusalem wouldn't result in mass numbers of Jews deciding "let's convert," anymore than the original Roman destruction of the Temple did.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by thoreau » 09 Aug 2015, 15:58

I doubt that the destruction of a holy city would cause all that many people to say "Huh. Guess I should join one of the other religions." More likely the responses would be a mix of atheism, some sort of theistic belief that they are hated and cursed by whatever god(s) might exist (so, more a practice of searching and praying to unknown gods), a redoubling of faith with an emphasis on rituals of penitence, and a redoubling of faith with the belief that End Times are approaching.

Also, I suspect that the destruction of a holy city would lead to a lot of violence against the members of that faith, because this proves that Those People are hated by the True God(s).

The destruction of Jerusalem, though, might be a bit different. Being so important to so many faiths, it would probably not single out any one faith for violence (many Christians would be too busy wondering what this means about the return of Jesus to go and feel smug about not being Jewish, though no doubt some would still make a good effort at pogroms), but instead prompt a lot of them to prepare for End Times (and schism about the best way to prepare for End Times). The entire Middle East would probably fill up with encampments of different religious groups convinced that, based on their interpretation of whichever holy text, some prophecied End Times event will happen (Any day now! Or maybe 7 years from now! Or maybe 77 times 7 years from now!) at that site, so it's important to be ready for [insert event here] to happen at that site...at some point.

The destruction of an imperial capitol would be interesting. If the meteor hit St. Petersburg the Russian Empire would disintegrate 9 years early, and probably not be replaced by a single cohesive Communist state. If the meteor hit Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire would disintegrate and the Middle East would become a chaotic mess of states with ill-chosen borders and disputes that carry on with no end in sight a century later. (So, no difference, really.) If it hit London, a whole lot of colonies would secede, and the King could wind up being some royal cousin who happened to be on vacation in Canada or wherever at the time. However, among the colonists of English descent, there might be so much horror and pity for the dead and dislocated in the Mother Country that Canada, Australia, Newfoundland, and New Zealand might actually grow closer to the remnants of England, even while the other colonies break away.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Eric the .5b » 09 Aug 2015, 16:29

thoreau wrote:Imagine a history where Rome is hit by a meteor in 1908. Or Mecca. Or Jerusalem.

(And let's not quibble about latitude. A small tweak to the trajectory could have sent it to anywhere on earth.)
Given axial tilt and orbital motion, you pretty much have to tweak the trajectory a lot to have it hit anywhere else. Just having it hit late means it probably misses the Earth entirely (as Ken Hite pointed out when he played with the St. Petersburg scenario in an article).
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by thoreau » 09 Aug 2015, 17:14

Depends on how you measure "a lot". If it's relative to the scale of the solar system, then the tweak is a tiny fraction of the orbit of an inner planet. Neptune would barely notice the difference :)
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Jennifer » 09 Aug 2015, 19:04

The rivalries and jealousies that would fuel World War 1 six years later would still be there. Would a Tunguska blast over populated Europe exacerbate that, or cool it? World War 1 might've started sooner than it did, after whichever country got hit by the blast was invaded by a rival hoping to profit from the chaos. On the other hand, it might never have started at all, if one of its major players had more important things to do, such as rebuild a significant chunk of its country.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Jennifer » 16 Apr 2018, 15:53

Strictly speaking, this is not an alternate history so much as alternate geology: what would our planet's climate be like if Earth rotated in the opposite direction? Among other things, the Sahara would currently be a lush grassland -- but Brazil and the southeastern US would be deserts. Also, cyanobacteria would be far more commonplace. Overall, though, that Earth might be more hospitable than ours -- our Earth has 11 million square kilometers of desert MORE than backward-Earth would have.



https://eos.org/articles/reversing-eart ... n-currents
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Eric the .5b » 16 Apr 2018, 16:12

Jennifer wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 15:53
Strictly speaking, this is not an alternate history so much as alternate geology: what would our planet's climate be like if Earth rotated in the opposite direction?
I'll check my bookmarks when I get home, but I came across this site a few years back where this guy did these detailed what-if global maps, everything from swap-land-and-water scenarios to reversing the Earth's rotation to titling Earth to put both poles at sea or on land, etc.

ETA: Aha, here is that page from the guy's site. He did it as a north-south flip, but that's fundamentally identical to just reversing rotation. He came up with a green Sahara, too, (which really isn't all that surprising, considering how deserts form), but also lower sea levels.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Kolohe » 16 Apr 2018, 20:39

I gotta think continental drift goes completely different (but not necessarily just 'the opposite') if the earth's spin is reversed.
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Alternate histories

Post by lunchstealer » 17 Apr 2018, 04:46

Kolohe wrote:I gotta think continental drift goes completely different (but not necessarily just 'the opposite') if the earth's spin is reversed.
I doubt it. Coriolis effects are pretty tiny compared to the forces at work in tectonics, especially at the very low relative velocities. It makes a difference in fluids, but it’s just not an issue in geology.

Edit; I’m kinda taking out of my ass about it, but I’m confident that I’m not far from the mark.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Kolohe » 17 Apr 2018, 14:33

lunchstealer wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 04:46
Kolohe wrote:I gotta think continental drift goes completely different (but not necessarily just 'the opposite') if the earth's spin is reversed.
I doubt it. Coriolis effects are pretty tiny compared to the forces at work in tectonics, especially at the very low relative velocities. It makes a difference in fluids, but it’s just not an issue in geology.

Edit; I’m kinda taking out of my ass about it, but I’m confident that I’m not far from the mark.
Though would you also say their model has a significant flaw if it holds that mountain ranges are identical between their version and the real world, despite the radically different rainfall patterns?
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by thoreau » 17 Apr 2018, 14:43

lunchstealer wrote:
17 Apr 2018, 04:46
Kolohe wrote:I gotta think continental drift goes completely different (but not necessarily just 'the opposite') if the earth's spin is reversed.
I doubt it. Coriolis effects are pretty tiny compared to the forces at work in tectonics, especially at the very low relative velocities. It makes a difference in fluids, but it’s just not an issue in geology.

Edit; I’m kinda taking out of my ass about it, but I’m confident that I’m not far from the mark.
Your analysis seems likely enough to me. I wouldn't be surprised if there were small differences in continental drift, due to some effect we're overlooking, but unless one of those small differences led to a hell of a coincidence (something big gets wedged between two plates that it originally wasn't wedged between, changing everything subsequent) I doubt it would be a huge effect.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by lunchstealer » 17 Apr 2018, 16:58

Changes in weather patterns are likely to have more of an effect, especially if it changes where glaciation happens, which it should. Caveat that we're getting WAY into hypotheticals now, but I suspect it would marginal differences here and there rather than wholesale. Where it could make a difference is drainage patterns and sedimentation rates, and that in turn would affect isostatic rebound as well as coastline and continental shelf formation. Even that might not be super big, however. There's a lot that would go into it and weathering/erosion rates might not be as climate-dependent as I might imagine. Curious question. Now I want to nab a geomorphologist and maybe a hydrologist (and I supPOSE a sedimentologist but zomg are those guys boring) and have them fight it out until they come up with an answer on that.

I wonder if the planetoid impact that formed the moon could've caused a back-rotation if it'd hit slightly differently? That math is definitely beyond my current, atrophied abilities.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Kolohe » 26 May 2018, 22:54

Shem wrote:
26 May 2018, 17:40
Warren wrote:
26 May 2018, 17:07
JasonL wrote:
26 May 2018, 07:40
The problem is you only get to see one outcome. People who always oppose intervention always say it would have been worse had we intervened for example. They may be right but there tends to be a thumb on the scale of the preferred approach in the hypothetical case.
When was it ever the case that things got worse for the security of the USofA when we failed to intervene?
Well, one can make a compelling argument that if we had gotten involved when Hitler decided to eat Czechoslovakia, we might have been able to forestall much of the European war. Likewise with the Japanese after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
The problem is, 'you and what army' becomes relevant. The US Army was tiny at the time Munich was signed. It took years to build up a force of significant size, and then even after the kick in the nuts of Pearl Harbor, more years to create an effective force that could consistently push back the Nazis.

The biggest question, of course, is what do the Soviets do, if a UK/France/USA does decide to send a force to central Europe (via Poland? you're not getting there via any countries between there and the Med) and an armed clash occurs.

eta - the real world 'phony war' after the invasion of Poland and the official declarations of war by UK & France loom large in my mind as to what could possibly happen in alternative Munich. So much of the US involvement in WW2 and the specific results from that involvement come from getting into the fight a year or two after everyone else did, and then getting into it all in. An earlier kickoff, with a lesser commitment, and the political situation on the US (and not to mention the political dimension of the war) becomes a lot murkier.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Shem » 27 May 2018, 00:15

The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Jadagul » 27 May 2018, 02:37

Shem wrote:
27 May 2018, 00:15
The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
Yeah, Munich is a pretty good example of when an earlier more aggressive intervention probably would have been a good idea. That's why haws (including sixteen-year-old me) always bring it up.

The problem for the hawkish argument is that it's actually pretty tricky to come up with a second example. Or at least a subsequent example. Maybe the Berlin Wall construction, which, from what I remember, we could have stopped pretty easily because the Soviets were totally prepared to fold on it?

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 27 May 2018, 03:16

Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 02:37
Shem wrote:
27 May 2018, 00:15
The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
Yeah, Munich is a pretty good example of when an earlier more aggressive intervention probably would have been a good idea. That's why haws (including sixteen-year-old me) always bring it up.

The problem for the hawkish argument is that it's actually pretty tricky to come up with a second example. Or at least a subsequent example. Maybe the Berlin Wall construction, which, from what I remember, we could have stopped pretty easily because the Soviets were totally prepared to fold on it?
The Iranian "student" capture of the U.S. Embassy.

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Jadagul » 27 May 2018, 06:35

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
27 May 2018, 03:16
Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 02:37
Shem wrote:
27 May 2018, 00:15
The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
Yeah, Munich is a pretty good example of when an earlier more aggressive intervention probably would have been a good idea. That's why haws (including sixteen-year-old me) always bring it up.

The problem for the hawkish argument is that it's actually pretty tricky to come up with a second example. Or at least a subsequent example. Maybe the Berlin Wall construction, which, from what I remember, we could have stopped pretty easily because the Soviets were totally prepared to fold on it?
The Iranian "student" capture of the U.S. Embassy.
The major problem with this game, of course, is that counterfactuals are hard.

(Prediction is hard, especially about the past?)

But it's also asymmetrically hard. I suspect that it's easier to see "what would have happened if we hadn't intervened?" than "what would have happened if we had?"

After some reflection, a lot of people put Rwanda on the list of "we should have intervened." On the other hand, it's entirely possible we just would have made the whole situation worse.

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by JasonL » 27 May 2018, 08:44

Counterfactual histories are fun to contemplate, but as I mentioned in the other thread, they tend to be abused as evidence of the universality of some preferred position. You are writing fiction, so you can make the ending turn out however you want it to turn out. We are stuck having to guess. We can have guidelines and default assumptions, and I think it is wise to err on the side of non intervention - but that's as far as I'd go. I'm pretty satisfied with people running around trying to kill ISIS for example. My view of Iraq changed over the years for sure but I still think at the time I'd support an intervention short of toppling the government that ensured by force access to inspection sites given similar information.

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by JasonL » 27 May 2018, 08:47

Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 06:35
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
27 May 2018, 03:16
Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 02:37
Shem wrote:
27 May 2018, 00:15
The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
Yeah, Munich is a pretty good example of when an earlier more aggressive intervention probably would have been a good idea. That's why haws (including sixteen-year-old me) always bring it up.

The problem for the hawkish argument is that it's actually pretty tricky to come up with a second example. Or at least a subsequent example. Maybe the Berlin Wall construction, which, from what I remember, we could have stopped pretty easily because the Soviets were totally prepared to fold on it?
The Iranian "student" capture of the U.S. Embassy.
The major problem with this game, of course, is that counterfactuals are hard.

(Prediction is hard, especially about the past?)

But it's also asymmetrically hard. I suspect that it's easier to see "what would have happened if we hadn't intervened?" than "what would have happened if we had?"

After some reflection, a lot of people put Rwanda on the list of "we should have intervened." On the other hand, it's entirely possible we just would have made the whole situation worse.
It's probably asymmetrically hard for the most extreme regime deposing type intervention because variables are unleashed. I don't think that's the general case though, because we tend to act like the minute a foreign power steps into something it is the only variable in the world that matters. That strikes me as an error in assessment.

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by Warren » 27 May 2018, 09:52

What happens if the US doesn't impose an oil embargo on Japan, Japan doesn't attack Pearl Harbor, and the US support for the war against Hitler doesn't go past Lend Lease?
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Re: Alternate histories

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 27 May 2018, 11:56

Warren wrote:
27 May 2018, 09:52
What happens if the US doesn't impose an oil embargo on Japan, Japan doesn't attack Pearl Harbor, and the US support for the war against Hitler doesn't go past Lend Lease?
England negotiates a deal with Hitler, who essentially rules Continental Europe at least until he attacks Russia. Japan becomes the regional hegemon.

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Re: Alternate histories

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 27 May 2018, 12:03

JasonL wrote:
27 May 2018, 08:47
Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 06:35
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
27 May 2018, 03:16
Jadagul wrote:
27 May 2018, 02:37
Shem wrote:
27 May 2018, 00:15
The case requested was "a time when the security of the US got worse because we failed to intervene," not "a time when we could have intervened, but we didn't." Politics being what they were, there was no way it was going to happen. But, if politics hadn't been a concern, I don't think the condition of the US military was the limiting factor you argue it was. "Involved" doesn't necessarily mean "soldiers on the ground." If Lend-Lease was started earlier, and included Czechoslovakia and Poland, not only does Chamberlain probably not agree to Munich (which was really, in retrospect, mostly about buying some time, given that even Chamberlain didn't think it would work, and the Brits spent the the intervening period getting onto war footing), but Hitler doesn't manage to roll over the Polish Army as easily as he does, to say nothing of France. The want of soldiers wasn't how Hitler overcame Europe, after all; it was the want of materiel. Hitler spent the 1930s building it, and nobody else did.
Yeah, Munich is a pretty good example of when an earlier more aggressive intervention probably would have been a good idea. That's why haws (including sixteen-year-old me) always bring it up.

The problem for the hawkish argument is that it's actually pretty tricky to come up with a second example. Or at least a subsequent example. Maybe the Berlin Wall construction, which, from what I remember, we could have stopped pretty easily because the Soviets were totally prepared to fold on it?
The Iranian "student" capture of the U.S. Embassy.
The major problem with this game, of course, is that counterfactuals are hard.

(Prediction is hard, especially about the past?)

But it's also asymmetrically hard. I suspect that it's easier to see "what would have happened if we hadn't intervened?" than "what would have happened if we had?"

After some reflection, a lot of people put Rwanda on the list of "we should have intervened." On the other hand, it's entirely possible we just would have made the whole situation worse.
It's probably asymmetrically hard for the most extreme regime deposing type intervention because variables are unleashed. I don't think that's the general case though, because we tend to act like the minute a foreign power steps into something it is the only variable in the world that matters. That strikes me as an error in assessment.
I don't think Carter should or probably even could have sent in troops, but he should immediately have gone to Congress authorizing military force in response to what was clearly an act of war, informing the Ayatollah and his "student" occupiers that harm done to embassy staff would be responded to with a grotesquely disproportionate response. I'm not naive enough to think that Mid Eastern relationships after that would have been all roses and rainbows, but our failure to recognize that the embassy staff were perhaps necessarily expendable led to the entire region and especially its violent radicals being emboldened, so I think it's an entirely reasonable hypothesis, counterfactual or not, that U.S. relations in the region would have been better than they in fact became.

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