“Fear 2012? Bunker hustler has you covered” — NSFW commentary!

(It’s Tax Day! Have you filed your taxes yet? And no, this isn’t the NSFW part. 😉 )

Oh, this is a fun one… so many creative ways that the world is on the edge of destruction! So many things to fear! Yes, fear them! “But,” says this Robert Vicino fellow, “if you give me enough money, I’ll make the fear go away!”

This kind of thing gets old. It’s nothing more than a Mafia protection racket, offering to save the fearful from their own fears. “Nice life you’ve got here, be a shame if anyt’ing happened to it…” You hear the same basic pitch in nearly every so-called Christian church, in various levels of obviousness: “everyone is going to burn in hell! For eternity! Fear it! FEAR IT! But if you devote your life (and wallet) to us, God will spare you.”

Just for amusement, I poked around his website and read a few of his disaster scenarios. Let’s pick one of them apart as an example:

In 2012 the next polar reversal will take place on earth. This means that the North Pole will be changed into the South Pole. Scientifically this can only be explained by the fact that the earth will start rotating in the opposite direction, together with a huge disaster of unknown proportions.

Bullshit, plain and simple. Do you have any idea how much energy would be required to simply stop the Earth’s rotation, let alone reverse it? That kind of energy output wouldn’t be limited to a short range, or to some portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we don’t know about — it would be quite evident on every part of the spectrum, and detectable from thousands of light-years away. And since he says this happens “with clock-like regularity,” and often enough that humanity knew about it just a few thousand years ago, we’d have seen it happen with other stars hundreds or thousands of times by now. So far as I know, no one has observed anything like it, short of a nova. And if our sun went nova, the reversal of the magnetic poles would be the least of our worries.

[…] Polar reversals can be calculated precisely on the basis of the sunspot cycle theory or the magnetic field theory, which the Maya and the Old Egyptians were privy to. […]

Bullshit. Prediction of natural phenomena, beyond what a person can see with his own two eyes, requires science. Science requires detectable repetition; it can’t be based on stories handed down from distant ancestors. And those ancestors would be very distant in this case — the most recent polar reversal happened roughly 780,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA and fossil evidence indicates that modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

I explained abundantly clearly that life after a polar reversal is nothing but horror, pure unimaginable horror. All securities you presently have at hand, like – amongst others – food, transport, and medicines, will have disappeared in one big blow, dissolved into nothingness. As will our complete civilization. It cannot be more horrifying than this; worse than the worst nightmare. More destructive than a nuclear war in which the entire global arsenal of nuclear weapons has been deployed in one blow. Are you grasping the facts?

The earth will be subjected to total destruction. It will be many times worse than my description. Terrible hunger, cold and pain, and more will rule your daily life: without hope of a quick recovery, because all knowledge and resources will have been completely destroyed. That will be the reality of your daily life after the forthcoming polar reversal. And it is in this scenario you will have to try to survive.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Everybody fear! FEAR! (But give me money and I’ll tell you how you might survive it.)

[…] All my deciphering points to a complex and ingenious science. Let me explain. When you, as a scientist, stumble upon results that the present astronomers do not know, you have, without doubt, stumbled upon something terribly important. Everybody will have to admit it, and that is exactly what I have done: I discovered an echo of a long-lost technological terminology; a majestic building with immensely sophisticated keys. Many numbers were based on the sunspot cycle, which they had discovered. A theory that is irrefutably correct and not known by our physicists! It cannot be more alarming!

So the Ancients, with their now-unknowable science based on information handed down over nearly a million years, knew about this and left us huge and expensive clues explaining it. How helpful of them! Unfortunately those clues are so hard to find that only one man has managed it, and he’s desperately trying to prove it to an uncaring world before it’s too late.

You know, if I were to claim something like that, I’d be diagnosed as delusional. Throw in some group that’s out to suppress the information for their own gain, and I’d be a full-blow paranoid schizophrenic. And probably inspire a ridiculously overblown action/disaster movie. Hm…

There have been polar reversals here before — at least 96 of them, in fact. And no one knows what would happen during one, because no human was around during any of them. It’s possible that there would be a strong worldwide electromagnetic pulse that would destroy every piece of electronics on the planet, followed by a slow roasting by unblocked cosmic radiation that would kill almost every living thing outright, and give all of the survivors cancer. But it’s far more likely that the effects would be minimal.

This is a “guest article,” but the science is about on par with what I read on the rest of the site. Some of the scenarios are more plausible than others, but that could well be simply because I don’t know enough about the science they quote to point out their flaws.

To anyone susceptible to this kind of pseudoscientific fear-mongering, I have one thing to say: you’re a moron and a coward. Learn some fucking science and grow a pair of balls, and maybe you’ll end up as something more than a credulous waste of skin.

24 Comments

  1. Speaking of science, I always thought the idea that people originated 200,000 years ago to be a bit hard to swallow, since civilization, according to both science and tradition, originated nearly 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. (In Abraham’s home-town of Ur by the Sumerians.)

    So for 194,000 years, we were wandering around the jungle doing nothing, then all of a sudden 6,000 years ago, we learned how to plant food and live in cities? 194,000 years is a long time to be totally ignorant, complete with areas of the brain devoted to written language going unused. 😉 Of course, since this doesn’t fit in the current scientific consensus, I probably fit in the “moron” category for suggesting otherwise, and being sceptical.

  2. Modern humans — people built about the same way that we are — originated roughly 200,000 years ago. And yes, they were apparently wandering around, just living their lives, for about that long. When you think about how warlike people are, and the mortality rate even without violence at that point, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that civilization took that long to arise… civilization requires a relatively large number of people working together, large enough to stand up to attacks from other groups, and able to raise enough food (despite those attacks) to support themselves without moving around.

    (Nothing says that there weren’t earlier civilizations. Just because we haven’t found evidence of them doesn’t definitively mean that such evidence doesn’t exist, it may just mean that we haven’t looked in the right place yet. Or, if you like, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” 😉 )

    As for “areas of the brain devoted to written language” going unused for that amount of time — that’s ridiculous. Those areas of the brain would have been used for recognizing patterns in nature, such as tracks of prey. They would only have specialized to written language as written language evolved. Just because a 200,000-year-old human was built like us, doesn’t mean that he had the same brain as us.

    And yes, I’ll label you a moron (or at least misguided) for your skepticism — not for doubting scientific consensus (you should always think for yourself), but for ignoring the large body of evidence that this hypothesis is based on. It is almost certainly wrong in some particulars, but the overall conclusion seems pretty solid.

  3. If anything, war would make civilization more likely to arise, most civilizations arose in order to be more efficient at war and subjugation of other peoples. Also, 194,000 years is a heck of a long time compared to approximately 6,000, we’re talking about two orders of magnitude. As for the evidence being “overwhelming”, the 200,000 figure is rather new, and has been changed several times over the last few decades. I wouldn’t place too much stock in it.

    OTOH, the evidence that civilization began approximately 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia is overwhelming, with some smaller scale stuff going on in the region (e.g. modern-day Jordan) before Ur admittedly, but still before the 10,000 year mark according to dating methods. Civilization is integral to our bodies, brains, and entire mode of survival, to have a period of time that’s over 30 times longer than the entire civilized period without it for something called “modern man” strains credibility. The areas used for language in the human brain, incidentally, are not dual purpose for animal tracks as far as we know…

  4. I completely agree with you that fear-mongering works because people are afraid of the unknown. And if the fear is drummed up enough, people are willing to do most anything to abate that fear. We’ve seen this on a broader scale with fear of “terrorists” or fear of “communists” or, as you point out, fear of going to hell. It works. And it’s dumb that it works.

    If there’s one point I disagree with, it’s the statement “in nearly every so-called Christian church”. Yes, churches though the ages have used the fear of hell as a means of gaining support, wealth and power, as have numerous other religions. However, the statement “in nearly every so-called Christian church” is an over-generalization.

    I’ve noticed a trend in western society for there to be a fear of organized religions, especially Christianity. The common sentiment I’ve heard is one of “Fear organized religion! Fear churches! They will try to brainwash you! They will try to control you!” Yet the people I usually hear this from have not done much, if any, scientific research into the matter. Most seem to have had an unpleasant experience with an organized religion of one sort or another, and have generalized that experience to be representative of all religious groups. It seems similar to how some people have experienced terrorism at the hands of one particular Muslim group, and go on to generalize that idea of terrorism to apply to all Muslims. Yet, if one were to do an impromptu study of Muslim people, by visiting different groups and learning their beliefs on terrorism, one might find some people who do condone terrorist attacks, but I’m guessing one would discover that many do not believe in such means. Similarly, if one were to go into various churches and religions communities and research what motivates their belief in a deity, and why they seek donations and volunteer time, of course, one would definitely find some where belief is based on fear and givings is based on the abatement of that fear. However, I know, from personal experience, that one would also find many communities where the motivations are not based on fear, greed, lust for power nor any other devious schemes.

    To sum up, I agree that it is unwise and potentially very harmful to give into an irrational fear, one not backed up by research, study and common sense. The end of the world is one such fear, along with the fear of terrorists and the fear of going to hell. I submit that another irrational fear that is prevalent in our society is that of organized religion, and often more specifically of Christian groups. And, like any of these fears, to simply accept and react to the fear instead of doing research and making an informed decision would be, in my opinion, a folly.

  5. Judaism sort of has hell, in the form of a purgatory, but we’re not sure who goes there. 😉 It isn’t emphasized in our religion, and the righteous of Gentiles have a share in the World to Come, so it isn’t a way to keep people in-line religion-wise, though maybe behavior-wise I suppose, though you don’t hear people talk or write about gehinnom much. Fear of punishment (yiras haonesh) as a motivator is put down in our ethical texts as being something suitable for children and ignoramouses, not adults.

    Most Xtians nowadays don’t emphasize their doctrine of damnation much, only certain sects of fundamentalists on a particular day in church might I suppose. Mainline Protestants and even Catholics nowadays have pretty much toned that message down.

  6. Ploni: where did I say “overwhelming”? I just said the conclusion looked pretty solid. The 200K figure may well be revised again, and several times, but the general idea will remain the same, I’m certain.

    And yes, fear of punishment is more suitable for children and ignoramouses than adults, which gives you some idea what they think of their “flock.”

    c-square: You grew up in a much different — and by the sound of it, much nicer — place than I did. I only know what I’ve experienced, with several churches (which claimed to be Christian) in the south and midwest, and those places were inevitably based on hellfire and damnation, and reminded you of it practically every week. Maybe it was only a coincidence that the collection plate came around on the same day. 😉

    So yes, it may be an overgeneralization… but it may also be more correct, for the areas I mention, than what you describe. I don’t plan to go out of my way to find out, I dealt with too much from churches and their adherents in my youth to have any interest in looking for their good side.

  7. Yes, it does sound like I’ve had different and nicer experiences. And I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t want to dive back in to do research. I agree, in the more conservative areas, there seems to be more ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching, whereas more liberal churches preach acceptance. And I’m glad to hear you understand that your experience might not be representative of all churches.

    On a very off topic, would you use your math library to calculate 1412^19 for me? The only answer I can get from any calculator is 7.02844479e59, and I want an exact number, not this silly e59 stuff.

  8. My execution-time-measuring program only measures in one-thousandth-of-a-second intervals, and it says it took 0.000 seconds. It took me a lot longer to ask the question. 🙂 The library is designed to handle calculations on much larger numbers than that, and to handle them very quickly.

  9. 398184678800928958572758269973248781720672794918873790052399415981861198454654889677813932908648035846993213941082528367078380053828207199094954002178969351577555568163074141880020252556076352012017431705556692745447399225090547437057196082482769487216377150506299810683902233690695288831989518877623488238926226237246349735873891025700436123206994186154885502368950683326953156002731644342622098863131988378991149594960542053797473252849059210558005996541666226731499489890792442246316398407775665255686216132941300110880541896906080287146300125311746348726192319867391821971715483649716732481966453799534099891995901479498620864110450347084724807293063625995035280925867706560480288275503505365683717040976184554844173483457554843654369866406710735702290186840598606382094730484150134863288780640059597558710515414752536908464562818214133784242457514472705691601952310703885009089270098703583281622416688116060251477759656982451455465678493518143004234644757213989866646355489867098053124777279494666961381368318676662910660224615463809526593401299601746641986931416068632088229325794684407687007219859841132554611633032204126079421044652192569321973771638048856053484427318433518449455795096112052052840023396417496628477741840784541447379915967412102876310059778794841433200935062528191055977812895210474580797537079630969026963583383345413516619921397208084820958560693847425873582850169954804266731098153118003358981683987263498072181912861839010495569046066361989786047785465974442446912077565748592495707517041147652790649998313732342450437866598920540323370650429515779055965807124451805864854504042860904612830382454697826875457057975892157453720076314420888086428981854152338952499431132830350015497009546393749662774260962621334531938377563298084011363465730160904039581312440817587371087078161

    And it required 0.01 seconds to calculate. :-p

  10. Hardly. That’s only somewhere around 10,000 decimal digits, if I count them correctly. I won’t bother calculating them and putting them here, because it’s just 1 followed by about 10,000 zeros. A rather boring number, and one that would hardly exercise the capacity of the library, let alone strain it.

    Now if you’d said (10^100)^100! (the exclamation point indicating factorial)… that would definitely, and easily, strain even the most advanced modern computer past the breaking point. But the library could handle it, in theory, given sufficiently capacious hardware, a suitable OS, and enough time to work. 🙂

  11. What’s interesting is that it demonstrates how big a googal is, the known universe contains a few digits over 10^80 particles. Therefore you can’t print a googalplex!

  12. As usual, I beg to differ. It’s easy to instruct the computer to print a googolplex, it would just take a long, long, long time. And it’s fairly certain that the first few digits would scroll off the buffer by the time you’re through. 😉

  13. “I have a life-size map of the world, the problem is, I don’t know where to put it.”

    The problem is that the universe is too small for it HG, though maybe if you took long enough, the universe would expand enough for it to fit. Though considering that it’s nearly 20 orders of magnitude bigger in zeros than the amount of atoms in the universe, that could take a while.

  14. The universe doesn’t have to be large enough for it, if you have a scroll-buffer that will drop the leading digits to make room for new ones. No problem at all. 🙂

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