World Not To End. Also, Sky To Remain Blue, Baby Animals To Remain Cute, Leafs Continue To Suck

I'm a big fan of sense and reason. Evidence, understanding, analysis: the three tenets of an educated life. The scientific method works just as well as a life philosophy, in my book. Understandably, pure stupidity irks me a great deal. People who believe that the moon landing was faked, or that vaccines cause autism, or that computers would fail at the Y2K, or that the world will end because the Mayan calendar 'runs out'.

All of these 'beliefs' are the product of not just being dangerously misinformed or dramatically undereducated, but also the unwillingness to deviate from a held position. It doesn't matter to these people how much proof you show them, no matter how logical and simplified the rebuttal is explained, they will call you the crazy one and hold on to their belief like a member of the NRA holds onto their gun.

Really, you just have to ignore them. If you have to fight this dug-down-deep kind of crazy, the only way to go is with more crazy, which is a stop-gap if anything, because you still end up with more crazy. Example: the recent "discovery" of a 1,200-year-old Mayan mural which includes benches and tables, complete with calculations of the Mayan calendar. And surprise, the maths say we've got thousands of years left!

Except, that was never in doubt. The calender that people are worried about 'running out', the b’ak’tun, was a cyclical calendar. It ran out plenty of times. Guess what happened when it did? They started it over again. You know who else uses a cyclical calendar? I'll give you a hint: it's you. Pretty good hint, yeah? Have you ever thought the world was going to end when December ran out? The b’ak’tun lasts about 394 years, then starts over. They also have the pictun, which is 7880 years long (kind of like centuries and millennia), and the alautun, which was 63 million years (so, an epoch, I guess). How many end-of-the-world-ers do you think know any of that? How many do you think care?

Sadly, the only way to convince any of them that December isn't the end is to point to yet more nonsense about a special cave of maths that say we've got a while yet. And even still, that won't do it. Some will say the cave doesn't matter, and that people really ought to be buying more canned goods.

I'm not a fan of the Mary Sue article I've linked below. I don't know what tone they intended to take, but as written, it comes off taking this far too seriously (a different kind of serious then I am, or Phil Plait does in the other link). Phrases they use like "contrary to popular belief" are misleading. This isn't a popular belief. It's a belief held by a minority, sometimes a very vocal one, but a segment of society that doesn't know what it's talking about, and doesn't care to be corrected. Sadly, on a variety of subjects, this is becoming the norm. We don't have debates anyone, we fortify our positions and lob insults at one another. It's true. Count the number of times I've called people stupid or crazy in this article. I know I'm doing it, but that doesn't make it right.

Education is important, not just for children and youths, but throughout life. Adults don't know everything, and need to learn something new from time to time. Over simplifications are dangerous, and without investigating claims, erroneous conclusions will be drawn.

Really though, that cave of mine in Wales is looking better all the time.

Via The Mary Sue and The Bad Astronomer.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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