Updated: January 31, 2011
2012 anyone? Well, if you're reading this article after December 21, 2012, then I'm absolutely right. But even if you happen to be reading it before this apocalyptuous date, I'm still absolutely right. The reason is simple. Prophecy, a cool word that is quite useful in the fantasy genre, is nothing more than a sham. It's the art of manipulation used by lesser idiots to impress greater idiots.
What prompted me to write this article was the nonsense revolving around a would be Mayan belief that the world as we know it is going to end on the said date. Not only that, someone decided to produce an oligophrenic movie showing American cities being destroyed in slow-motion in the finest of CGI effects and whatnot. Really set me off. So I decided to set things straight. Let's debunk this stupidity.
The future does not exist
Since the future does not exist, you can't predict it. Very simple. The future is not an extra foot on the time tape. It's not a bus stop waiting for us to arrive. It's the horizon event of all of current events, down to quantum scale, where uncertainty reigns. Hence, nothing can be really predicted, beyond a few simple macro extrapolations, within a certain level of confidence, usually manipulated to death by overzealous statistical fanatics.
But even if we ignore the quantum stuff, the future cannot be predicted, because it implies nothing at all we do makes any difference. Since any and every little thing we do affects our surrounding, having a completely predetermined future also means that having doubts about what we intended to do and even changing decisions on a whim are part of the grand plan. This means that everything is absolutely absolute, including the thoughts spawned in the heads of retarded people, every drop of rain, every fart, everything. In this regard, you don't need prophecies, only mathematics. All you need to do is calculate what things ought to be, derive the right formula and work the magic.
If Mayans were so smart ...
For some reason, people like to attribute olden wisdom to olden people, as if they knew anything, except to believe in the contemporary flora and fauna and die of simple things like flu, plague or birth. Too much credit is given to nations that happened to be back then - and since have vanished, being destroyed by their superiors. The depressing truth is, there is nothing magical, mystical or special about people who lived several hundred years ago in central America. Without nothing better to do in their lives, they spent a lot of time studying stars and other celestial objects and managed to come up with a few interesting conclusions. But they did not do anything smart with this new knowledge, beyond worshiping big blobs of rock. Instead, they could have tried inventing advanced mathematics and physics and perhaps giving metallurgy a shot.
If Mayans were that advanced, how come they are not around today? If they had divine and prophetic powers, how come they did not predict several little more pressing, little more urgent matters like the Spanish conquistadors, the antibiotics or the Internet? Right.
People talk about events being prophesied AFTER they happen (hindsight)
Have you noticed how bored conspiracists always come up with their wise theories after things happen? No one seemed to have talked about WWII until after it was completed. Then, all of a sudden, people started looking for random references to vague and obscure bits of text written in medieval ages, finding all kinds of correlations that even a blind monkey working as an air traffic controller would manage.
Talking about things after they occurred is called history - not prophecy. This is an insult to human intelligence of such magnitude that I would recommend holding anyone claiming prophetic powers legally responsible for their stupid claims. Might help reduce the chatter to a minimum.
Now, sometimes, you can't have the original culprit mocked, the reason being he or she may not be around any longer. Sometimes, this makes things even worse, since there's nothing simpler and yet more mystical than referring to a controversial medieval figure for prophetic insight - or rather, hindsight.
The prophetic pattern
Prophecies throughout the ages have the same structure: they are vague and ambiguous, like the Horoscope bullshit you read in your favorite tabloid. Anything can be (mis)interpreted the way you want it. They are so broad and generic in nature that they can be applied to anything. They are told by people, who by modern medical standards, suffer from a mental illness. They are molested ad nauseum by sensationalist TV shows trying to give you a glimpse into the spooky and mysterious. This also applies to ghosts and UFOs. Same turdonics, a different shade of brown.
Do you want a prophecy? Here's one:
There's going to be a big catastrophe in the year of the lion
Sounds cool, right? Now, all you need to do is figure out which calendar has the lion in it. Then, look across the board for any kind of small or big natural or human-made disaster that may have happened or will happen in the context of catastrophe, and there you go. Can't get any better than that.
And again, we have to go back to the filthy, primitive medieval times. People used to live only about twenty to thirty years top. Four out of every five children born died before the fifth birthday. There was no clean, running water, no sewers, no spoons, no medications, no electricity, the limit of knowledge was the border of your village, the limit of your power was to manure your feudal lord's fields and die. You can't even begin to imagine the futility of life. Even animals had it better.
And among the stupid and illiterate and people with moss growing between their teeth, you got raving lunatics spewing random stuff that sounds a little more interesting than the beauty of medieval life. Throw in fear and coincidence a.k.a. superstition, and you almost get the start of a new religion.
There has never been a prophecy that says, golly, you're going to win the lottery next week with the following numbers. No, it's always random and vague and uncertain. The reason is quite simple, people making these prophecies know nothing more of the future than you do. Alas, doesn't stop them from trying.
Each religion and its own interpretation
You can be a world-loving person and say that everyone deserve their piece of belief. But if you pit religions and their view of what is divine and what is not, you get a definite discrepancy. Again, you may claim the truth of divinity is multi-faceted and multi-aspected. However, from the logic standpoint, the things don't quite match, or as we geeks like to put it, it does not compute. Kabbala and Gematria do not work alongside the Gospels.
And who got it right when it comes to the end of the world date? Every religion has its own calendar. Now, only one can be right, but in this regard, this means none. First, let's not forget that human calendars are set on a scale of thousands of years. Dinosaurs and the proton half-life spoil things a bit. Second, if one religion is wrong, then they all are, because they all share the same philosophical singularity. Each religion is the right one, and all others are false. So if one is false, then they all are.
The big problem
The REAL issue with prophecies are not the idiots and charlatans trying to coin in on other people's naivette, stupidity, greed or despair. The real problem are millions of people who cling to these hocus-pocus claims. Anyone who believes in magical powers of prediction ought to be neutered to prevent any chance of procreation. It's often the lack of education that lends strength to this belief. It's the same thing with the 9/11 conspiracy and the steel melting point, the Roswell incident and many others.
So let me give you a real example.
At my previous work place, I had a colleague who discovered a renewed interest in religion after spending a few years in India, bonging the place. He came back reinforced with a fresh belief in the mystic and the cabal and often quoted prophesied truths to me and my skeptical friends.
One day, he even claimed how the exact number of stars in the universe was determined by the magical people of old, long before they had the Hubble telescope, indicating they might have had divine assistance. We looked up the numbers in his special book and came with a figure: 1015. Then, we went to the NASA site and read the latest estimates on the number of stars out there. It says something like 1022 and growing.
So our friend was wrong by only seven orders of magnitude. To give you an example you can relate to, this means that if I told you I was in Dublin, you would look for me ten million meters away - or 10,000 km away, somewhere near Singapore. Not really accurate, now is it? The guy never broached the subject again, I might add. Now, if he had spent time studying astrophysics rather than munching weed in India, he might have learned a few things that would keep him from making preposterous claims. Or kept him in the realm of real.
There you go. Now you know why prophecies are meaningless. First, since the future is undetermined, there's no magic pool of future information you can draw data from and create any predictions. Second, there's quantum. Third, there's the the unspoken dispute between religions on how and when this world is going to end, negating one another. Fourth, prophecies are vague, to cover up the simple scam they are - or lunacy. Fifth, no one is smarter than a hindsight conspiracist.
I hope you enjoyed it. What more, you can safely rest assured the world will not end by 2012. There's going to be cacky hitting the fan no doubt. We might even get lucky and witness a reversal of magnetic poles, a major solar flare or even a cosmic ray burst (CRB) event, but the planet will stay where it is, with or without humans to pollute the Internet with their ideas.
To sum it up, I predict zero or more email replies to this article.
Note: The Apocalypse, The Euclid, the Nostradamus portrait, the Mayan ruins picture, and the NASA space photo are all in public domain.