Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lights out

So apparently we don't already have enough nonsense being thrown about online regarding the End of the World, now the Tibetans have gotten involved.  [Source]

I find it interesting how many folks here in the Western World automatically give more credence to a story if it comes from somewhere mystical-sounding.  Look at how many "alternative medicine" treatments come from places like Peru, India, or the American Southwest (adding "Hopi" to a product's name is a sure-fire winner, which makes me wonder how the actual Hopi feel about all of this).  Of course, being from one of those places is no guarantee of not being a complete raving wackmobile, as was evidenced just yesterday in a pronouncement by Gyandrek, a Tibetan lama, who sent the following highly illuminating message to NASA, which I present here verbatim:
In late December, the Solar system planets line up in a row, which is a unique case.

Fall and winter will be warm, and from 12/21/2012 Earth will begin to pass through the galactic zero band.  This is a special state space where the blanked and not be subject to any energy.

Was complete darkness and silence. The electricity and communications. Darkness will be accompanied by flashes of light, as well as the play of light and shadow.

Sometimes it may seem that roam figures – as if the dead rose from their graves. earth will shake slightly – like a small earthquake. Some buildings can be destroyed.

Animals feel the earth before the coming of the cosmic dark and go to ground. People in cities do not feel so are the victims of insanity. Can be lost 10% of the population.

You need to prepare for this change of cycles to complete all the works in 2012, not to tie new, pay off debts.

20.12.2012 to take their children, all documents, cash and get out of town into the countryside. Prepare a supply of food for two months, as supply will be restored for a long time.

It is necessary to have in the house supply of water, firewood and candles for lighting. You need to have the stove in the house, as the electricity stops flowing from 21.12.2012 on the wire.

Communications and TV are turned off. During the "dark days" hang windows dark, not to look at them, do not believe your eyes and ears, not to go out. If you see the need to go, you cannot go far – you can get lost, as you’ll even his own hands.

After the appearance of the world is not in a hurry to return to the city, it is better to live in the nature of spring.
Well, I think we can all agree that this sounds pretty dire, especially the "darkness accompanied by light" part.  I'm sure that all of the scientists at NASA were tickled that Gyandrek felt obliged to weigh in on the situation, and are sincerely thankful that he warned them that according to his information, the "Solar system planets" are all going to line up in a row, sending us into the "galactic zero band."  Whatever the hell that is.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Why are you even bothering to post this?  How could anyone whose IQ exceeds his shoe size believe any of this?  I mean, really?"

Apparently, tens of thousands of people in China could.  According to a story in The Telegraph, there has been a run on candles and non-perishable food in local markets, because of the predictions of "continuous darkness" and fear that the electrical supply will fail.  A 54-year-old university professor's wife in Nanjing took out a £100,000 mortgage on her £300,000 home and plans to give all of the money to underprivileged children, so that she can "do something meaningful before the world ends."  (Hard to imagine how the underprivileged children are going to spend all of that money in just ten days, but at least the sentiment is nice.)  The Chinese government has tried to counteract all of the silliness, putting out messages directing people to ignore any End-of-the-World nonsense, but apparently it's not having much effect.

For me, the effect is to make me weep softly while banging my forehead on my computer keyboard.

Let's just be clear about this, okay?  The planets are not going to line up a week from Friday.  We are not going to have two months, or even three days, of darkness at the solstice.  There is no such thing as a "galactic zero band."  And while I'm sure the Mayans and the Tibetans are lovely people, their ability to predict stuff kind of sucks.  No one at NASA is taking any of this seriously, although I'm sure that their receptionist is going to be really glad when the 21st has come and gone so that (s)he can stop having to field calls from panicked wingnuts wondering what the scientists recommend doing to maximize your chances of surviving.

Of course, my tendency to scoff doesn't mean I can't have a little fun with the whole idea.  As for me, I'm hosting a party on the 21st.  We'll have plenty of high-fat food, and sugary desserts, because after all, we won't have to face any repercussions with our doctors if we're all dead (or ascended, or in the dark, depending on which version you go for).  There will, of course, be lots of beer and wine.  For the Rapture-minded, we'll have a Confess Your Sins booth, although offhand I can't think of any of our friends who is nearly holy enough to hear confession and grant absolution.  My wife wanted to dress up as either a Mayan princess or like Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, but the costume store was all out of both of those, so she's just going to surprise me.  As for me, I'm coming as a zombie, and just hope that no one thinks to bring a cricket bat.


  1. If you dressed up like Tina Turner in Thunderdome, I would so attend.
    You raise an interesting question about confessions. What would a good Catholic do, I wonder, if it turned out the priest they'd been confessing to wasn't very holy? Would they have to re-confess to a better one?

  2. Can I come to your party?


  3. Catholics, of course, have thought of an answer to the question of an unholy priest and that is: "the church provides". Meaning that as long as the proper form is followed with the proper intention, the church makes up for any failings on the part of the minister of the sacraments. So if the priest you're confessing to is eventually found to be a child molester, you're covered and don't need to re-confess.