Friday, January 6, 2012

No, the World Will Not End on December 21, 2012

Let's begin this year by, as the oracle put it to Neo, getting the obvious stuff out of the way.  The widely held prediction that the world will end on this year's winter solstice holds about as much water as a shot glass.

The claim, which stems from the Mayan calender reaching its end, is like many other pseudo-scientific ones that float around the virtual ether: it lingers because it cannot be proven false.  Well, not until the end of 2012, that is.

The end-of-the-world claim can, however, be deemed baseless with relative ease.  I  think that any reasonable person realizes this.  If today's best meteorologists equipped with modern technological tools cannot accurately predict the weather some weeks into the future, how could the Maya accurately predict the "End of Days" moment thousands of years prior?  The obvious answer is that the Maya could not and did not.  But then, I suppose that any devout believer of the silly prophesy would not be swayed by a scientific argument.

Truthfully, I would rather not pay any attention to a debate that cannot be won.  Unfalsifiable statements like, "A flying saucer passed over my house last night," amount to nothing more than noise.  It is a waste of my time and yours to worry about bogus prophesies (is there another kind?) when there is so much richness to be found in real science.  Yes, interpreting actual science requires some logic and a certain degree of effort, but unlike mysticism, it is rewarding.

You know, some "End-of-the-worlders" have modified the terms of their prophesy recently.  They now claim that the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012.  Well, this is the same sort of cop-out as we are accustomed to seeing in horoscopes, which provide loose predictions that are open to various interpretations.

Every now and then, when horoscopes try to get too precise, they risk exposing how fraudulent they truly are.  For example, my horoscope has alerted me that I will meet the love of my life countless times in recent years.  If the stars really knew me, they would know that I met the love of my life thirteen years ago.

So, I am happy to get this little bit of Hocus Pocus out of the way now.  I will not bring up the implications of the Mayan calender again before the fateful day.  And then, on December 22, I will post the following tweet: "I told you so."


Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Cohen,

Happy New Year! I am the Chinese girl who took Physics with you last summer at Vanier College. On Sep.1st 2011,I got accepted into Nutrtion program (Bachelor) of McGill University. I've decided to transfer into Dietetics this fall. Dietetics is very competitive with the requirement of GPA 3.0 or above. My first semester's GPA is 2.85. I think I will have to work harder in order to transfer successfully.

Wish the best in 2012.

Jingjun Yu

The Engineer said...

Congratulations on being accepted into University Jingjun. I remember that you are a very hard-working student. Keep it up.