The ability of humans to believe anything it likes.
The Ability of Humans to believe whatever they like despite the evidence
Colin Wilson has written an interesting article for Daily Mail Dec. 30, 2000 entitled: Did this year’s floods prove Nostradamus right - and that his predicted Apocalypse will happen in 2001?
Notice that the title has a question mark at the end, Wilson is unable to say definitively that a prediction by Nostradamus has proven itself to be true, so has put a question mark at the end.
The prediction in question was Nostradamus’s prediction of disaster in July 1999, where he said that:
‘the year 1999 seven months, from the sky will come the great King of Terror. Like the return of the great king of the Angolmois. Before and after Mars will reign happily.’
I noticed nothing like a ‘king of terror’ at the date in question, and Wilson says "I felt a certain relief after July 1999 passed without incident, and it could all be dismissed as a false alarm." It seems (probably) naively to me that Nostradamus’s powers of predictions have at last been proved wrong. Wilson quotes predictions of Nostradamus that apparently have come true. But I think critics dispute such claims. The main reason for the dispute is that Nostradamus never gave any definite date for when his vaguely worded predictions were going to happen. It was only with a few predictions like the ‘July 1999’ prediction that he gave a date. This prediction (I think) was the only one so far that could be put to a scrutiny of saying whether one of his predictions was definitive right or wrong, without all the ambiguities that are attached to the other predictions. I think he has at last failed. But Wilson now wishes to create a few ambiguities, so that such a claim cannot be definitively made. He proposes that may be Nostradamus meant the year 2000, because the years were counted wrong when moving from BC to AD the zero was missed out. Maybe Nostradamus got his sums wrong like his contemporaries, when it came to counting years.
Next Wilson proposes that may be the events predicted did actually happen on July 1999, and instead happened in July 2000, because he notices that events around the world have got worse in one year. Being British, and being preoccupied with the British obsession with the year, he mainly makes the deduction that things have got worse between 1999 and 2000, because the British weather has got worse.
The universe/ world is holistic, and one can deduce from certain observations that things are changing. The weather changing its behaviour is probably global warming etc., but I fail to see how this connects with Nostradamus’s ‘king of terror’. He appears to be trying desperately to find connections.
Finally he comes up with the theory that predictions come from the unconscious part of our brains, and our conscious minds have difficulty in interpreting this message correctly, and so there is bound to be some distortion in the prophecy so that it is not 100 per cent correct.
So, let us review the possibilities-
1. may be Nostradamus meant next year, so we can worry about the prediction all over again, and may be think he really meant some other year than 1999.
2. may be the prediction came true, but we didn’t notice
3. A prediction does not have to come true, and prophecies still work
Wilson has convinced me that he has found a way of fitting the evidence around his belief in prophecies, so that there is no way to be able to prove his belief wrong or true. He just believes whatever he likes, and the evidence is made to fit around that belief.
When I believed in orthodox science, I would have condemned such an attitude as proof that the (sometimes called) "lunatic fringe" were not worth talking to because, they believe whatever they like and do not want to put their claims to the scientific test of being proved right or wrong, with accepting the outcome of such a test.
However, my investigation of orthodox science, find that that group also employ the policy of fitting the evidence to their belief system. The main difference between them and people like Wilson, is that ‘they’ are much more sophisticated in the manner in which ‘they’ talk nonsense.
The human ability to believe anything it likes, is truly amazing.
In the film The Life of Brian- people decided to follow Brian around and view Brian as a messiah. They ignored Brian’s disclaimers and his mother saying that Brian was not a messiah, just a ‘very naughty boy.’ When Brian was crucified, they thought it was Brian’s plan of defying the Romans, and he did not want rescuing. People found it easy to believe whatever they wanted to believe, and ignore whatever Brian was really saying. The whole world was insane, except for one person- Brian. In Modern times, We have repeatedly demonstrated that ‘we’ live in this type of Monty Python World.
By the way - Wilson is probably right with the idea that genuine predictions are subject to imprecision. Unfortunately, the way that science has so far been constructed it is not possible to test such claims.
From my observations of psychology - the unconscious mind absorbs more information from the surroundings than comes to our conscious attention. We sometimes have uneasy feelings that something is wrong, as we go about our daily business. This is called ‘intuition’, and is the unconscious giving us a hint that something is not quite right and not as it should be. But because the unconscious when acting through intuition, does not explicitly say what is wrong, we are taught to ignore our feelings from the society that we have been brought up in, dismiss them as superstition, and carry about our normal activity. If subsequently something goes wrong, and by some chance event we manage to survive the disaster that our unconsciousness was warning us about, we then wonder if that warning - a feeling of uneasy was some psychic ability within ourselves.
For instance:- it is a common thing for aeroplanes to crash in bad weather. We might not be consciously aware of this, and go about what might be normal daily business of taking lots of aeroplane flights. Then one day we go to the airport, the weather is bad, but we don’t consciously mind, and we sit about in the lounge drinking our tea and wondering to ourselves why we have this feeling of uneasy, we think to ourselves we have been on lots of planes and never been afraid of a plane flight before why do we feel uneasy today, and might fail to spot the dead seated reason. We might then take the air flight, and nothing happens, we then dismiss the feeling as irrelevant. If we take the flight, or decide to not talk the flight, and something goes wrong with the flight, we might then assign to that feeling - a premonition.
This is how some premonitions happen.
Colin Wilson talks of the disaster at Aberfan. Where a school was directly under a large hill of coal slag left. Wet weather caused the slag to fall down from the hill and kill the children in the school by smothering them. Wilson says:
".... the Aberfan coal tip disaster of October 1966, when 144 people died, a study showed that no fewer than 22 people (including children who died) had voiced their premonitions in the preceding weeks, and expressed them to other people who later confirmed them."
Their unconscious through intuition, dreams etc., was warning them of the potential danger. Everyday they went to school, and nearby was the ominous coal slag hill not far away. The unconscious spotted that something was not quite right about such a scenario.
But in modern society, we are taught to ignore such feelings, and encouraged to mock those who have such feelings. So, we in general ignore such feelings and carry on, and are surprised by the disaster.
This psychological feeling from the unconsciousness, almost fits in with orthodox science beliefs, but society is still encouraged to dismiss such feelings, and we place ‘blind faith’ in science and technology in the same manner as the passengers of the Titanic were encouraged to believe.
In the case of predictions of the caliber of Nostradamus - they are outside the framework of what orthodox science deems possible, and hence are untestable from such a belief system.
Modern society is based on ignoring the evidence that its belief system is in error, and then proceeds to make the same scenarios for potential disaster, claiming surprise when
said - disaster happens. Are we ‘lemmings’?