December 14th, 2008

word can help write your suicide note

Writer's Block: Prophecy or Fallacy?

Happy birthday, Nostradamus. Many people consider the prophecies of Nostradamus to be uncannily accurate, while others remain skeptical. Do you think it's possible to predict the future?


For example, I predict that tomorrow the sun will rise.

There, see how easy it is?

From The Rotten Library: How Nostradamus is the literary version of a Rorschach test.:

"...Suffice to say, it's wise to take the Prophecies of Nostradamus with a grain of salt... or maybe a whole shaker.

Especially if those prophecies seem to pertain to 9/11. One quatrain was circulated with great hysteria in the immediate aftermath of al Qaeda's attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, destroying the twin towers of the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon. It read:

In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
While the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.

Theoretically, the "City of God" is New York City. Why is that? Fuck it, who cares. Maybe it's Washington, D.C., which is only slightly less godless than the Big Apple. Put that aside. The "two brothers" would then be the "twin towers," the fortress is the Pentagon, etc.

If you got this passage in an e-mail forward, you might have noticed that it was dated to 1654. This presents a problem since that date is nearly 100 years after Nostradamus died. Whoops! Turns out the "quatrain" was written by Neil Marshall, a college student, in a paper entitled "A Critical Analysis of Nostradamus."

The point of the fake quatrain was -- you guessed it -- to demonstrate how Nostradamus-style writing can be twisted around to mean just about anything.

Read the whole article: The Rotten Library: How Nostradamus is the literary version of a Rorschach test.

This is why idiots find images of The Virgin Mary in the shitstains of their underwear and whatnot. Because we want to see it and our brain is really well wired to find patterns in randomity, and because our subconscious is a powerful force ever at work in the background in all our minds. This is also why astrology is a multi billion dollar business, even though people who read their own horoscopes laugh and admit it's all in good fun.

tl;dr this is why skepticism is a very, very good thing.