What if history moves in big, slow waves? What if patterns of growth and decline, or equality and inequality unfold over decades or centuries? Can we observe these waves and make history into a science? The answer is probably “no.”

I’m not saying that no such patterns exist. They might! But if they do, it will be very difficult to prove. Instead, we may end up getting fooled by random movements in the stock market, the economy or whatever it is we’re looking at.

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