Officially, the Western Roman Empire ended on September 4th, 476 AD when Odoacer deposed Emporer Romulus Augustulus. These sorts of coups had happened many times before, but what made this one different is that Odoacer didn't call himself the new emperor. Instead, he declared himself the King of Italy. That's a pretty minor deviation from the normal pattern of coups in the Roman Empire and thus a pretty arbitrary boundary for "The Fall of Rome." The actual story of what brought down the Western Roman Empire is much more complex and cannot be understood without taking the roles of climate change and infectious disease into account. In this episode of the podcast, KMO and guest discuss two books: The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease & the End of an Empire by Kyle Harper and Are We Rome? by Cullen Murphy.
KMO welcomes Keith Preston back to the program to discuss the difference between absolute and relative poverty. There are a lot of people who make less than the national average, but most of the so-called poverty in the US is relative poverty. Even so, social stratification and wide disparities between rich and poor, even when the poor are not facing starvation, erodes the sense of shared national identity and makes democratic government difficult to maintain.
The conversation about IQ and life outcomes just won't die, largely because of the push-back that KMO receives every time he tries to advance the discussion. In this episode, KMO spends some time defining intelligence while also admitting that it is a slippery, context-dependent idea that is liable to evolve over time. Thereafter, KMO and Douglas Lain respond to listener feedback on their previous conversation on this topic. That conversation involves the examination of possible alternate histories and touches on the question of whether it is better to reach a large audience who mostly don't get what you're talking about or reaching a small but sophisticated audience who grok what you have to say and offer you the incentive to go deeper.