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So predictions of doom never come to pass, why is anyone listening to new ones?

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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So predictions of doom never come to pass, why is anyone listening to new ones?

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I have no idea why. I really don't. I'm going to focus, instead, on demonstrating that they Just Don't Come True.

Reason #1: Calendar shift.
Currently, I'm encountering people freaking out because oh my god 21st December 2012.
You do realize, of course, that the Gregorian calendar is a fairly modern innovation- one of which the Egyptians and Mayans were completely naive?
Also, you do realize that the transition to the Gregorian calendar, back in the 1700s in Britain, though as early as 1585 elsewhere, divorces all previous predictions of dates from calendrical significance?

Reason #2: Bitch please.
Every person who has thus far predicted that The World Will End On Insertdatehere has been proven wrong. Using Occam's Razor (that is: the simplest thesis is the one most likely to be true), it holds most probable that people who predict the world will end on a date in the future will be as wrong as people who have predicted the world would end on a date that has passed.

Reason #3:
The current cycle of the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. Note- 'current cycle'. Not 'calendar'. It also ends in December of 2012.
But does it end on the 21st of December? Nope. It ends on the 23rd. OR the 21st. Or the 23rd. Or. Note the indecisiveness, there? Yeah.
Does it mean 'the world will end'? Nope, it means that the current cycle ends, much as we experienced on Jan 1, 2001, with the end of the prior millennium.

Reason #4: Oh like you're so important.
The universe, in main? is an unreasoning bit of clockwork. There's a bunch of quantum bullshit going on under that which is totally not clockwork and is kind of brainmeat-hurty, but let's ignore that for the nonce and go with Newton's model- which is smarter than most millenarian anyways. The universe doesn't give a tinker's damn about what us tiny little humans are doing on our slightly less tiny little planet, with our picayune little lives.
The universe has bigger concerns than ending life on Earth in 2012.

reason #5: Grow a goddamned vocabulary.
No, there isn't any coded wisdom in Mayan codexes that suggests the world will be destroyed by X in December of 2012. It's just the end of one reallyfuckingbig span of time and the beginning of another one. BTW, the Maya named this reallyfuckingbig span of time a baktun. it's about 394.25 years long. Specifically, 144,000 days long. That's all it is. It's not the end of the universe, it's not the beginning of the universe. The classical period of Mayan civilization occured in the 8th and 9th baktun. Did they 'plot out' what the span of the 13th baktun would look like? no- because the Mayans were astronomers, not prophecy-makers.
BTW: you just read the term 'baktun' for the first time, didn't you? Thought so.
  • Actually, I'm enough of a nerd to have read baktun before, and I'm totally looking forward to the global disaster hilarity that 2012 promises. I mean, apparently it involves the Yellowstone supervolcano! Double awesomeness!
    • It's quite excellent having readers who HAVE encountered baktun before. ;)

      And yay supervolcano! Maybe they'll loop in the New Madrid fault zone for the perfect-storm trifecta!
      • Toss in an asteroid collision...
        oh wait, that's been done.
  • Well, there's also the problem of induction. I could assume that I'm never going to die because it hasn't happened yet. But then I'd just be using induction, when I would've concluded something else entirely by using induction from a broader, more informed perspective.

    Anyway, extinction and such is common enough, but there isn't sufficient reason to think it'll happen tomorrow or by any particular means. Maybe global warming will get to us eventually, but we can jump off of that bridge when we come to it. Meh.

    Of course, you're talking about Mayan mysticism or whatever, and I don't wanna know.
    • Ah true. Induction is a problem and is indeed a problem that we wrestle with daily ('global warming? you're full of it' comes to mind)
      • That's what gives them so much foresight, or something. If the world had already ended, there wouldn't be any world left to end the second time or anyone left to remember, or something. Whatever.

        Anyway, I'm not in any hurry for it to happen.
        • The induction problem found here is easily resolved: Simply note that we have no credible evidence showing that any human has ever not died with the right end of that tail puttering out near 120 years. Apply accordingly. Sure, you could look at your own life and induce that since it hasn't ended it never will, but you could similarly look at your freshly-poured cup of tea and induce that since it has not cooled yet, it shan't ever.

          Zenophile. ;D
          • I guess if we could only watch millions of universes putter out somewhere around 120 billion years, then we could us induction on our universe, too. Or something.
  • I feel like I'm missing some backstory. Or batshitinsane story. Maybe we can split the difference and call it batstory. Anyway, what is the deal with Dec 21 2012?
    • type 'Mayan 2012' into google. There is more batshit-insane in the results than my mind could countenance.
    • So the Mayans had a longIcount calendar. Biggest unit was 144,000 days in length. One of these units ends on 12/21/2012.
  • One of the issues I have with date-like prophesies is that I'm sure that someone mis-counted along the way.
  • (no subject) -
    • If there is a God, he's probably pretty efficient about how he expends his ultimate power. Surely it'd be cheaper for him to strike her from the earth than all of us.
  • BTW: you just read the term 'baktun' for the first time, didn't you? Thought so.

    Aha! False, as my father is something of a Central American archeologist - admittedly preferring pre-Maya stuff.

    Other than that, I commend your accuracy and heartily agree with you on all counts.

    Also, I suggest that "baktun" acquire a second meaning, namely, "idiots who have been gulled into believing that the world will do something dramatic when the Mayan calendar flips pages".
  • (Was Re: 23:59:59 December 31, 1999)
    • Heeheh- which had the notability of being a year prior to the end of the millennium.
      • You know, the only thing that did make me a little nervous on that particular date was my now-deceased uncle who had been working for IBM for his entire professional life as a computer engineer(titles vary). He was like, "I /know/ we did all sorts of hacky stuff that's going to break on that date and I figure they haven't fixed it." He then proceeded to a) buy a house on a hill that was 'defensible', b) acquire a ridiculously expensive generator to power said house, and c) purchase enough food and weapons that he could hold out for the forthcoming Dark Ages.

        What's interesting about this is that you can see the rationality in the inception of his worry, but then it sort of goes off the rails a bit- "holy crap, I know I screwed up, BETTER CREATE A WACKO COMPOUND TO SURVIVE IN". At the time, since I also worked in the industry, I was a little more optimistic that it wouldn't be that catastrophic...But you better believe that I had my escape route to reach said compound planned. ;)
  • You rock the baktun, colubra.

  • I know baktun cos I read the wikipedia article on this stuff a few weeks back out of curiosity.

    I approve of the snark used in this post.
  • I've been familiar with the term "baktun" for quite a few years now, because I'm into all sorts of esoterica — but other than that, I pretty much agree with you. this one's going to be even more of a wash than Y2K was, and roughly as much of one as the 1980 planetary alignment* was.

    On the other hand, if the Shadowrun-ian Sixth World, complete with magick, should happen to occur, I'll be happy to have been wrong. But if anyone offers me odds on that? I'll bet against.

    * Oh, you missed that one? Funny, so did the rest of reality.
    • My initial response to 1980 planetary alignment was 'what, you mean the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_Convergence>Harmonica Virgins</a>?' Wow, I had no idea of that.
  • Personally I've always been kind of curious as to why we think the Mayans would know?

    Assuming they DID actually predict the end of the world, we should decide that they've got it right?

    Alright they were advanced for their day, but why is a society that can put men on the moon and a giant porn network in every home - sorry, the internet - with computers that can calculate at levels that makes the human brain scream deciding that the best go-to for knowledge of the future is people who could put bricks together without mortar?
  • Yes, and the world didn't end when the computers' calendars ended in 1999. Just sayin'.
    • 'zactly.
      I often have wondered why doomsday predictions are so rife in human history- what need is this filling, socially or psychologically, for us?
  • personally I just love that it's being used as the impetus for one Really Big Stupid Action Movie coming out later this year.

    I love it when things blow up stupidly.
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