One of the things that mankind has been fascinated with throughout history is the concept of an apocalypse or doomsday. Just in the last decade, there have been no less than fifty claims that the world would end on a certain day. The most famous of these include Nostradamus’ prediction that the world would end on July 1999, the Y2K problem that suggested that the year 2000 would cause all computers to malfunction, and many claims that a certain date would be the Rapture – the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. The latest of these doomsday predictions is the one regarding the Mayan calendar. There are claims that on the 21st of December, 2012, the Mayan calendar finishes its 5125-year cycle, leading to a cataclysmic event that will destroy the universe. But of course as usual, this theory is complete and utter nonsense.
Firstly, there are no records that the Mayans predicted that the world would be doomed when the cycle would finish. It is true that December 2012 marks the end of a b’ak’tun – a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar equating to about 394 years, much like how we measure 1000 years by 1 millennium. Essentially, it is like a “turn of the century” for the Mayans. Pretty much the entire concept of the Mayan calendar ending bringing doom to us all was fabricated by some shoddy academics and New Age believers.
Secondly, every theory about how the world might end in such a scenario has been disproven. Some of the most popular “theories” were: the collision of a Planet X or “Nibiru” with Earth, geomagnetic reversal and galactic alignments. However, to this date (20th December, 2012), there are no large rocks or planets hurtling directly towards Earth (would have been noticed by thousands of astronomers worldwide months prior), the magnetic poles are stable (even if they switched it would not cause much harm) and there are no alignments between planets, moons or stars scheduled at the time.
No matter how crazy the theories and predictions are, there will always be people claiming that the world will end soon, and that we should repent our sins or something like that. Even better, there will be a significant amount of people who believe it or at least worry enough about it to affect their lives somehow.
Perhaps the most fitting quote for this phenomenon is something that Martin Luther wrote in his diary at a young age: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. Whether the world is ending or not, live your life to the fullest, seizing every day and making the most of your chances.
The following are three laws conjectured by acclaimed science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke, regarding predicting the future.
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
A “good fortune teller” is not an “accurate” fortune teller. A “good fortune teller” is a fortune teller who “says good things”. A fortune teller who tells fortunes that are too real, despite warning people of the dangers to come in the future, tends to be ignored and hated on just like Cassandra from ancient Greek mythology. Human beings say they fear uncertainty in the future and want some certainty, but they do not want to hear about an unhappy future. This is a normal response. Who would want to hear that they will soon be diagnosed with a terminal illness, or that they will break up with their lover? However, people are fascinating in that they still try to know the future. We go to fortune tellers and read horoscopes to try figure out what will happen to us. But if they receive bad news such as “you will fail your next exam”, instead of studying even more they curse at the fortune teller for giving them a bad prediction. Thus, human beings live among curiosity about their life and fear of the unknown future, while celebrating good fortunes and actively denying bad ones.
The reason why we like to have our fortunes read is similar to why we watch previews of television shows: we are curious about what will happen. But if you ponder this deeply, you soon come to a great epiphany. The further you look out into the future, the clearer this becomes. Everyone eventually dies. A person’s life span is typically not much longer than a hundred years, with everyone meeting the same fate some day.
A fortune teller predicts the ups and downs of a person’s life. If you think about it, life is composed of a series of peaks and troughs that eventually result in death. No matter what misfortune comes your way, it will pass just as seasons come and go. A person who passed an exam is happy and leads a good life, but even if the person fails, they somehow make it through. Unless you give up, a person will continue to live on. C’est la vie. Life is as simple as that.
If the best fortune teller in the history of mankind told your fortune, they would say the following: “nothing matters, live the way you want”. Whether your fortune for the week is good or bad, you will eventually die. There is no point scaring yourself with fortunes, live every day as if it was your last. An uncertain future may be scary, but it also represents infinite possibilities. Just like Schrödinger’s cat, our tomorrows are both alive and dead at the same time. Until tomorrow comes and the box is open, we can never know what the future holds.
So as long as it does not harm you or anyone else, do whatever the hell you want.