September 26, 2010

And the Dragon Said... The End of the World? Really?

Ok, I’m a rational human being.  Or at least, I believe myself to be.  Like many people, when I hear the words “end of the world” combined with December 21, 2012 I raise a skeptical brow.  But hey, I have an open mind.  I’ll watch the program on the History Channel, I’ll read the interview with the “scientist”, and I’ll listen.  And what I hear, on the surface, is disturbing.  It seems like there is evidence supporting the idea.  And the idea is compelling, due in part to the fact that the Mayans, who constructed the calendar which predicts the end of the world appeared to be experts of astronomical phenomena.  Then there is the evidence, supported by “hard” science, which indicates we are coming into alignment with the galactic equator.  (Well, that was bound to happen sometime.)  And in true self-centeredness, my first thought is “Great!  It figures.  Just when I get my first book written and published… the world ends.  Just great!”
But wait!  IS the world going to end exactly on December 21, 2012?  Hmmmm.  For as long as people have been around, people have been predicting their own demise.  Sometimes when the destruction is caused by us, it comes true.  The good old self-fulfilling prophecy.  But predicting disasters on a global scale is a bit… unpredictable.  There are so many unknown factors.  Right now we can’t even predict the weather accurately.  (Well, ok we can sort of predict the weather.)  Still, if you ask a good, rational, self-respecting scientist, you will get the skeptical brow. 
“But wait!” you say, “There is science to support this!  Just check out this website.  It’s the official site of the end of the world.  I mean they even have a countdown clock.”  Come on!  Really?  A countdown timer to the end of time?  Now THAT is ironic.
Most rational, self-respecting scientists warn against accepting, at face value, the science offered up by these theories.  Pseudo-science, the methodology, practice and belief which appears to be scientific but which fails to adhere to established scientific practices, will parade itself about cloaked in an illusion of rationality.  Oh it sounds great.  Coincidences are offered up as solid facts, vague, often shapeless evidence is pointed to as incontrovertible truth, and wild speculation fills in the blanks.  Suddenly the beliefs of an ancient race which are hardly understood, and the apparent alignment of planets, planetary phenomena, and some hard science, are brought together to “prove” the truth of the world’s sure and certain demise in the year 2012.  Only, no-one can seem to agree on the how.  Furthermore, these doomsday predictions seem to be an echo of the warnings touted at every turn of the century, and every millennium.  And yet here we are, debating the evidence once again.
I am not denying the world will one day end.  It could be tomorrow, it could be a billion years from now.  But I am denying the ability of anyone, ancient astronomers or modern man, to predict the exact date and time.  There are just too many unknowns and even the best science is not without error.  We can build computer models based on available data to speculate on the earth’s demise, or the sun’s, or even the galaxies.  And yet the predictions will fail because we do not know enough about any of these complex systems to accurately understand how they work.  We simply cannot account for every variable. 
So when I read these prophecies and listen to the “scientific” proof, I am properly skeptical.  Hey I could be wrong.  I guess we will all find out when December 21, 2012 finally arrives.  Only 849 days, 23 hours, and 58 minutes left… Tick…tick….tick…
The end of the world?  Really?  Guess I’ll grab my Fruit Loops and watch…
GA Lanham
*For a more rational view of a very irrational subject, visit: http://www.universetoday.com/14094/no-doomsday-in-2012/

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