Peter Turchin is a complexity scientist and one of the founders of cliodynamics — a new, cross-disciplinary field that applies mathematics and big data to test historical theories.
WALKER: Peter, I first encountered your work, I think, in 2019, and I thought it provided one of the most compelling explanations of what I was witnessing in the US (albeit from the shores of Australia). I've also had Jack Goldstone on the podcast, in 2021, and I've kept in touch with him since then; I told him that we were doing this today.
WALKER: Yeah, one of them. And cliodynamics is the application of big data and mathematical models to find patterns in history. But it does this in a non-naive way that draws heavily on complex systems science. And you have a new book out called End Times.
Before we discuss that and a bunch of other topics, I wanted to start with this broad question of whether a science of history is possible. So, as you know, Karl Popper famously objected to the notion of a science of history.