My (Non-) Psychic Predictions for 2012

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I have a rather uncompromising view of the validity of psychics and the meaningful success of their annual predictions, which are either generic, high-probability events trivial to fulfill, much more specific claims that never actually happen and require much special pleading to support their alleged fulfillment, and those retrodictions, not predictions, only mentioned after the fact and shoehorned to fit the events they pertain to.

I’ve looked, and no psychic has yet accurately predicted anything important under adequate conditions, illogical, contrived and weak excuses to avoid being subjected to tests of predictive veracity notwithstanding.

Well, despite that, I’m a fair guesser, just as good as any “Intuitive” and best of all, openly in non-possession of any psychic abilities at all (skeptical ethics and all that), so I’ll offer a few predictions of my own, for the remainder of this year and come 2013, I’ll revisit this post, and we’ll see how well I did… or not.

So let’s get started… Each of these will have a likelihood rating using one of three emoticons –

:-) – Trivially likely

;-) – Maybe, could be made to fit

:-( – Definitely a stretch

  • Conspiracy theorists will fail to be convinced that President Obama did not get teleported to Mars during the 1980s as a project by the CIA to explore the Red Planet. :-)
  • Bigfoot will be discovered in a poll-booth voting for a Republican candidate (most likely Mittens) during election day this November, and DNA analysis will reveal him to be genetically engineered by Grey aliens, or maybe brought to Earth by Time Lords out for a spin in a TARDIS… :-(
  • A new fossil hominid will be discovered or revealed by investigation of previous dig samples, further developing our ideas on human evolution and overturning older, more erroneous ideas of same. :-)
  • In February, I predict that at least one earthquake will happen somewhere in the Western hemisphere give or take one or two weeks around the 15th. :-)
  • A new form of life will be discovered in hydrothermal vents in or near Antarctica. :-)
  • Several new exoplanets, even closer to Earth in size and mass than before, will be discovered in orbits near their stars close enough to bear life of a sort we might recognize. :-)
  • Yet another politician or other ranking public figure who can’t keep his todger in his trousers will be scandalized and forced to resign after getting caught. ;-)
  • Several more seemingly extraterrestrial signals will be picked up by SETI radio-telescopes. Most if not all of them will be readily identifiable as Earth-bound interference. :-)
  • Irresponsible predictions about the End of the World™ will reach a fever pitch and none of them will come true when or as predicted, be the date December 12, 21, or any other time of this year. :-)
  • Mister Eccles will learn to curb the use of his claws in play and become more sedate as an adult cat. :-(

And finally…

  • Ethnic Maya in Central America will rise up in wrathful protest vs the silly apocalyptic or transcendant claims that gullible people of West European religious traditions or practitioners of equally silly spiritual doctrines have superimposed over their early civilization’s otherwise perfectly innocuous Long Count calendar. ;-)

xkcd: The Economic Argument vs Woo [Repost]

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I thought that this would rather nicely sum up why purveyors of nonsense only make scads of money off people who believe in what they peddle, and not mainstream science or business. Note that only two of the wacky ideas above see any use apart from just those who believe in them, and for very good reasons; They’re science, not wishful thinking… I know–that’s mean–but I am Troythulu, not the Carebears.

Make Mine a Granola with Almonds…

This is about something that one of my Twitter friends, @Tao23 sent me a while back. It’s pseudoscience with an emphasis on the “pseudo-” and this is just one of the things that pisses me off about many promoters of woo woo.

‘Energy bars’ in your head that let you magically fulfill your every ambition if only you learn to access them?? WTF?? I’m not sure what to make of this.

I don’t know how to express the contempt they seem to have for the intelligence of their clients, and no, it doesn’t matter how much of this they really believe themselves.

Nope, even being totally sincere in making claims like these is no excuse…

…Never mind that the only energy bars that actually exist are the ones you unwrap and eat.

It’s normally my policy not to do this, but this truly deserves “that image” since anything less would give this too much credibility, so here it is peeps…

Sanal Edamaruku Skeptically Pwns Tantrik on Live Television [Reposted]

Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International and the Indian Rationalist Society, challenges tantrik Pandit Surendra Sharma, to use his magical powers to kill him on national television, and seems most amused throughout the attempt, even to third part where the tantrik, with some assistance, tries the Ultimate Destruction Ritual™…to no effect on Sanal, who remains very much alive as of this writing… Woo… gotta love it.

Now Go Away, or We Shall Taunt You a Second Time!

Maya glyph (K'in )for the day in the long coun...

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Okay, this makes Troythulu feel a cold, eldritch snark coming, and cosmic amusement at this latest example of the searing, blazing surge of neocortex-numbing idiocy that sometimes calls itself humanity, with mindlessness on a scale dwarfing even that of Mighty Azathoth itself. Ia!

This is a matter of which Troythulu does not wish to lend any sense of credibility to the culprits.

Nope, this is going to be one long, ridiculing, ad hominem ramble…

It seems a tiny village in southwestern France is being beset by unwelcome visitors, in the form of UFO believers descending upon this quaint little place in droves, more than it can reasonably support, and who believe not only the completely imaginary claptrap about 2012 being the end of the world, an idea even the Maya laugh at as the claims of stupid Westerners imposing their apocalyptic religious myths onto their Long Count calendar, but also that the local mountain is a UFO parking garage, the occupying craft in which will leave our doomed (DOOMED, I SAY!!!) planet and take some fortunate believers with it when it leaves.

I told you this was stupid, though not burning enough to require the showing of “That Image…”

Sometimes I’m amazed at the extremes people go to in acting on their beliefs, even to the point of forcing the locals to call in the military to keep them out.

Why the need?

It’s so they can’t overcrowd and ruin this rather scenic place during their wait, until and when both fictional UFO and apocalypse fail to appear as they no doubt shall.

Superstition is endemic to the human species, no matter what you call it.

It’s no surprise that end of the world scenarios have that annoying (to believers) tendency to fail, save perhaps the real end of the world about, oh, I don’t know, five f*cking BILLION years from now, when the sun gets ready to die and we’ll all be long gone, or evolved into something else.

About the Maya calendar predictions…Did anyone ever inform these peeps that calendars aren’t used for prophecy, and the Long Count calendar is cyclical, not linear…

All that reaching the end of the current cycle means is a reset of the calendar date to zero. But you’ll never hear that from mystery-mongers, since that might cut into their bestseller hardback royalties…

Oh why do I bother?..

But for the residents to be forced to request that the French army step in to keep out unwelcome guests so they won’t destroying the locals’ quality of life?

I feel for them, and know their pain as property values plummet, and the area’s scenic beauty is ruined by minor acts of spiritually-motivated vandalism, so I say, “Go for it people. Do what you need to keep the whack-jobs out of your living space.”


To think it all started when one local guy, now deceased, posted a claim about seeing a UFO in the area, among other silly assertions…

…and it only takes one to spoil it for all…

It’s at least a good thing the locals are, well, skeptical of the whole thing, since it’s their home that’s being invaded, (but not by ET) and its ambience ruined by the decidedly unwelcome guests.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I plan on being around long after 2012, and smirking evilly at the disappointed folks who will be forced to reschedule their timetable for Armageddon yet again, and maybe this next wait, to stay out of places they aren’t wanted.

Tales of the Spam Box, w/ Humerosity

Here’s something fun I found in my spam folder just a few days ago. It’s an ad from an oxymoronic professional outlet of online (*drum roll*)  psychic consulting services, and I found it rather humerus in content, as fittingly, is the site itself.

Humerus enough to warm my cold, eldritch, inhuman heart…

Were these people even aware of my diabolical skeptic nature? Did they have any idea of the sort of abject cruelty I engage in with this sort of thing?? Unfortunately, I suspect that this was not the case. Muahahahahaha!

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our three most powerful weapons are fear, surprise, and a nearly fanatical devotion to the Church! Confess, heretic, or I’ll bring out…the comfy-chair…and the soft pillows!!”

Still, bad Monty Python paraphrases aside, it’s a good idea in my book to be wary of any attempt at looking professional when even the spambots sign what they send to other websites as something too generic, like ‘Expert,’ or ‘Admin,’ and having visited their website I noticed the same sort of thing going on. I mean, what’s wrong with doing what other spam accounts do and use absurdly silly but unique fake screen-names, like Sertiltpytuf, or some such, and impossibly long fake email addresses that never show up when you google them?

What’s up with that?

So I checked out their home-page, and I’d hoped that they would have more rigorous standards of webmastering quality on the site itself. Sadly, I was disappointed.

Well, even I can’t have everything…

Unfortunately, the text that follows is that of the entire comment, with no changes in spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, or syntax…Note the interesting run-on sentence before the main paragraph.



Our psychic always online for chat and e-mail
In order for psychic our experts to be authentic they of course have to be able to give accurate readings, and make accurate prediction on future events. In some situations, Our psychic experts will know where a pet or person is, or can find things that are missing.
Our experts can do :- love readings psychic readings astrology reading numerology relationship tarot card reading crystal ball reading aura reading angles reading and also career and financial readings.

Now concerning part of that: Just WTF is an ‘angles reading?’ I did a brief search on it, thinking perhaps it was some new sort of occultish divination using geometric forms, but instead was rather depressed to learn that it’s a misspelling of ‘angels reading,’ presumably some sort of cold-reading employing the conceptual element of imaginary divine emissary spirits.

*sigh* At least geometric forms have been shown to actually exist, even if in the abstract…

BTW, I used the [rel=”nofollow”] command on that link just because I’m a big blue tentacled meany and don’t feel like doing them any favors.

Aliman, it looks like that prediction you tweeted me in jest just a few days ago came true, but I’m wondering if the ‘psychics’ saw it coming.

I suspect strongly that they did not…

What is a Skeptic? What is Skepticism to Me?

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‘Skeptic’ is a powerful word, laden by our modern culture with many linguistic connotations both positive and negative, and it has a long history, going back to classical Greece. But skepticism in the sense of a approach to systematic doubt has been around for thousands of years.

It’s a nice, simple, short word, much better known than such obscure terms as Zetetic and Eupraxopher, and that at it’s modern complementary sense means simply a smart thinker, in the sense of ‘being skeptical’ about something.

Scientific skepticism, the sort I practice, is the most systematic modern incarnation of that idea, a form of intellectual Kevlar that borrows from scientific method, formal and informal reasoning, and derives its philosophical underpinnings from a number of different schools of thought, particularly those of scientific realism and surprise, surprise… scientific skepticism.

There are a lot of different and often mutually clashing definitions for a skeptic, but my current favorite (and I do vacillate from time to time…) could be summed up as “someone who advocates science, reason, and reality, and who in thought, word and/or deed engages in a seeking after truth, and where necessary and possible, the scrutiny and exposure of falsehoods.”

Note that last of the first items mentioned in that definition – reality – for reality is absolutely essential for science to work.

This is why I find it amusing when the more extreme woo-meisters claim that science shows that reality is an illusion and therefore doesn’t exist – science may indeed demonstrate that the nature of reality is not how it appears to be, the proper usage of the term ‘illusion,’ but that isn’t logically the same as saying that science shows it doesn’t exist.

I should point out that an illusion is a very real thing, else we could never experience one from time to time through (misleading but real) physical perception, and a perception of something that doesn’t exist is not an illusion, but an hallucination

…in short…

No reality = No way for science to work = No way to coherently prove that reality doesn’t exist using science.


Because science is a means of objectively describing and explaining facts about reality by testing claims against that reality and discovering the best possible answer, and you can’t objectively discover or explain facts if no objective facts exist, and if everything in reality is totally subjective, then you cannot in any conceivable way objectively show this to be true.

Truth requires an underlying reality to exist, or nothing is true and therefore nothing can be false, for the very concept of falsehood requires truth in order to exist…

…and therefore if nothing is true, then it cannot possibly be true that anything is false. Does your head hurt yet? Mine does.


I am not a radical skeptic of all knowledge for I find it to be logically unjustified, such as the frequent claim by extreme postmodernists that nothing can be known unless it is certain and self-evident, and since nothing can be known with certainty, we cannot know anything, that knowledge is no more than mere opinion.

This is itself a factual claim to knowledge, about knowledge, and indeed, a double claim about knowledge that we have to know something absolutely in order to say we know it at all and that therefore nothing can ever be known.

So anybody’s views and beliefs are as good as any others’ and neither facts nor truth really exist…

Really? That raises my figurative hackles a wee bit, so I have a few pointed questions to ask about this assertion…

How do they know this? How can they claim to know this unless they know it absolutely? What universally acceptable, self-evident principle is this claim based on? And how can they make this claim if they don’t have any absolute grounding, their own paradoxical gold standard, to justify it?

Postmodernists don’t like science because of its use of reductionist methods, despite their evident usefulness and power in explaining components of nature before we integrate them into the whole. Fair enough, though I argue that to build a complex machine, you have the understand the parts and know how they fit together before you can assemble them into a working mechanism. That, and I find the views of postmodernists equally reductionist in their perception of science, looking only at it’s separate parts (fields and specializations) without seeing the whole enterprise as the communal and overall thoroughly holistic effort it is.

Any philosophy than denies the existence of facts cannot be used to evaluate or critique them, any more than religious ideologies can be used to legitimately critique evolutionary science. So while postmodernism is perhaps useful for literature and art, it is misapplied when this is attempted on any enterprise which is designed from the bottom up to find, describe, and explain facts.

I find the views of some classical Greek philosophies, particularly those of the Skeptikoi and Epicureans, interesting, but dealing with them in this post in enough detail would make it too long, and I’ve rambled enough. That’ll have to wait…

I find that there is value in suspending judgment on a matter until sufficient evidence is obtained, to hold things as uncertain when it is not or cannot be, and the peace of mind that that brings a definite plus. Even with the definition of modern skeptics I gave above, there is a wide leeway in the way that self-identified members of the skeptical community, which is far more than a monolithic movement, think as individuals. I think that this is a huge advantage since it fosters unity through freshness and diversity of thought among those who count themselves part of it.

Is there any such thing as a True Skeptic™ practicing True Skepticism©?

To me personally, those exist mostly in the minds of those ideologues who abuse the term to refer to themselves favorably and who also frequently append the prefix “pseudo-” to the word to describe their critics out of resentment. Fnord.