Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time to stop making plans...

Well, that's good to know. Now I don't have to worry about the painful experience of giving birth, celebrating my first anniversary, or even moving to my new apartment. Though, if the Rapture is coming, I want my holding deposit back so I can go blow it on some nice clothes to meet Jesus in. Of course, if the Rapture is anything like its believers say it is, I won't need to worry about that, and I can go about my business after being left behind and loot all their earthly possessions. Hey! They won't need them any more, right?

Needless to say, my heathen mind is completely unconcerned with the wave of earthquakes set to ripple round the world that evening. Or the catastrophic death toll said to come in the following days and weeks. I'm not exactly envisioning any scenes like in 28 Days Later...

But wouldn't it be lovely not to have so much congestion in downtown London?

Seriously, I'm on the side of those who counter Mr. Camping's arguments by quoting the source he uses to defend his erroneous mathematical games: the Bible. After all, the New Testament says pretty explicitly "but of that day and hour knoweth no man...", but I guess he's ignoring that part. It's pretty bad when your own source material contradicts your predictions.

All of that said, while his erroneous judgement is focussed on some rather big and important events and traditions, Camping and his followers are only making the same sort of mistakes in logic and reasoning that all people make. Take, for instance, two cases-in-point from the Skeptoid blog, by Brian Dunning. Granted, he talks about Bill Maher and Sarah Palin (and I highly recommend reading the original post in full), but I think point is still valid to a degree for Harold Camping, too:

For example, I heard some skeptics the other day talking about Bill Maher, saying "I didn't realize he was as crazy as he is." (Bill Maher is an outspoken critic of science based medicine. He's endorsed AIDS denialism, Big Pharma conspiracies, anti-vaccination, and natural medicine.) Now, granted Bill Maher is wrong about a lot of things, but he's not on the fringe. A lot of people believe that stuff. Clearly it's important that they be educated, because widespread beliefs like this would represent a serious national health crisis. If you dismiss those beliefs as craziness, you're saying there's nothing to them, they're meaningless. Instead, acknowledge that there are compelling cultural influences that have led Bill Maher and others to believe those things. Bill Maher is just one of many victims of these influences, and it's because he has the average person's ability to understand and interpret the information he's been exposed to, not because he's crazy.

In the same way, you could say Sarah Palin is simply responding to cultural and political influences. People need cheap energy, so she's a proponent of drilling the oil in her state. People want government to eliminate wasteful spending, so she bashes fruit fly research, the significance of which has never been made clear to her or to the public. The United States is a strongly Christian nation, and many people support teaching creationism in schools, and oppose stem cell research. Palin isn't being stupid by embracing these concepts, she's responding to the same influences everyone else is.

So while I think this guy makes a whole lot of spurious claims and dubious leaps of logic (and I'm not entirely above making fun of him) he's not really much sillier than the average person. Though, despite that point, I must still make one last jibe...

"...They can open doors!"

No comments:

Post a Comment