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When will it end?
Whether it is with a feeling of joy or fear, 2017 are full of expectation. The Christian rapture. A secular clash of the worlds. The last big battle. Already had to pan in the past 12 months. Some more than once.
But in 2017, is not unique.
End-time prophecies were bandied about for all of history. Some came close to a self-fulfilling. But eventually, everything fell flat. The fact that you are reading this means that nothing has changed.
So why do people keep falling for apocalyptic prophecies?
Dr Michelle Arnold of the Flinders University School of Psychology says different types of prophecy will probably appeal to different beliefs.
“However, a major factor that has been suggested, is the uncertainty; that is, to believe in this kind of prophecies can help give people a sense of certainty in an uncertain world,” she says.
And the prophecies often seem convincing, because they can lead to mental “rules of thumb” — or reasoning shortcuts called heuristics — that can lead us to the garden paths.
“In many situations heuristics work well by us to the correct answer quickly and efficiently,” Dr. Arnold says. “However, because they are rules of thumb (e.g., if an algorithm/formula that produces a correct answer with certainty) they do not guarantee that we will be right since they are open to prejudices.”
So here is a look at the 2017 could be — and a taste of what’s to come.
And then there’s a couple of clues on how not to fall for them.
1 JANUARY 2017: BEGINNING OF THE END
The year is off to a good start when this does not happen.
It was supposed to be the kick-off of ‘the dying time’: The destruction of mankind.
Followers of the Sword of God Brotherhood were convinced that this was it.
The Prophet Gabriel had revealed only to them, they believed, that the ‘hellfire’ was released on this date. Only a select few (which, of course, they belonged to) would survive.
It turned out to be quite a few. And there was little fire to speak of.
But the world may have taken a stitch in the desired direction.
The death cult is reportedly an offshoot of a white supremacist group.
Calling themselves The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, the survivalist group was founded in 1971 in Michigan. It was apparently disbanded after the compound was raided by the authorities in 1985.
But the prophecy lived on.
It was a view that found support in another cult calling itself ‘Daniel’s Timeline’.
The same applies — such as the apocalypse prophets — the Old Testament Book of Daniel.
Their argument went something like this:
“According to the law of the Old Testament, the Jubilee years occur every fifty years and they are times when all the debts are discharged and all goods that are returned to the rightful owner. Jubilee years are supposed to be times of celebration, but they can also be times of profound change. In addition, biblical prophecies indicate that the 120th Jubilee year in particular, who will fall in 2017, will be a catastrophic change.”
Somewhere, someone was wrong.
A HEARTBEAT AWAY FROM DOOM
One of the prophecies apply to the past year is actually quiet old.
This does not explicitly specify 2017, although it is certainly in its scope.
The 12th-Century Irish bishop St. Malachy decided only 112 popes would be the St Peter’s throne in the Vatican after the 1143AD election of Pope Celestine II.
Pope Francis is the 112th.
So, according to St. Malachy, the apocalypse is just a heartbeat removed since his election on 13 March 2013.
Not that 2017 is more likely to have seen his death than 2016, or 2014. But Pope Francis is not exactly a spring chicken. He was 76 when elected. Now an octogenarian, his time is surely winding down.
Watch this space.
NIBIRU: AGAIN, AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
The idea of an invisible planet inhabited by aliens — circling our Sun on an odd job has been around for decades. It is associated with many so-called apocalyptic events, including the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse.
Supposedly derived from the ancient Sumerian writings, author David Meade has baked the idea with the biblical interpretations, numerology, and astrology.
Never mind that the bible expressly forbids astrology.
He is since a couple of dates.
The first was September 23. There was a rare alignment of the Sun and the Moon with the constellation Virgo. There were nine stars, and three plants clustered about the constellation of the head as a ‘crown’.
(This has also happened many times before — including in 1827, 1483, 1293 and 1056, according to EarthSky.)
Graft these astrological observations with the Bible, the Revelation 12: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.”
Meade was doubly convinced that this was it. 23 September was also 33 days after a total solar eclipse crosses the United States (precisely the reason why the US is important in biblical terms, it is apparently taken for granted). And 33 is important because it is the speculated age of Jesus at his death.
With more complicated interpretation, and numerological gymnastics, Meade came to the conclusion that a Planet Nibiru would be passing close to the Earth, sparks of a series of disasters that represented seven years of Tribulation leading to the second coming of Christ.
But no astronomer had seen no hint of such a planet as it supposedly crossed the orbits of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars on the way to the Earth in the past few decades.
On September 23rd, nothing happened.
A quick review of the writings, a few tweaked amounts and adjusted the rounding to be sure … and a new date was settled on.
Yet another urgent review came up with the ultimate interpretation of prophecy: November 19.
We are still here.
NASA is also within her rights to say “we told you so”. In 2011, a YouTube video about how Nibiru can’t exist. A planet-sized object moving within our solar system would be easily detectable both by the gravity influence on other worlds and the sunlight is concentrated.
There would be a real Planet X: the soft shapes of a asteroid and comet orbits far beyond the orbit of Pluto suggests a planet-sized gravitational influence in the solar system to the outermost edge.
But this hypothesis is not yet proven. Astronomers around the world are taking the measurements, making observations, and doing the number-crunching that will prove if it exists or not.
END TIME TO COME?
The past centuries have shown us that failed predictions do little to prevent new arise.
What we do know is, eventually someone will probably get it right.
The world will end. And if there are new predictions still churned, the opportunities are very likely to be at least one trap close to what apocalypse unfolds.
And there is no shortage of predictions and prophecies a try.
Daan van Hal declared 1988 would result in Armageddon and the second coming of Christ.
An urgent review was needed after this will not eventuate. His original prophecy hinged on the idea that the Second Coming would happen one generation after the nation of Israel was re-established.
Hidde of the problem, he says, was the definition of ‘generation’.
Exactly how long are they, anyway?
Some feel it is just 10-15 years, so the definitions of the Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennial so often bandied about.
Lindsey found that the time flows differently in Biblical terms, Adam was supposed to have lived 930 years, and Noah 950), so he settled on a 40 year intergenerational cycle.
But, apparently, he was wrong.
Revisions and fresh calculations produced other Biblical figure: he came This time with 70 years.
So the new date is 2018.
So why is the apocalypse an exclusively Christian thing?
That it is not.
The Jewish Talmud is interpreted to be the date of the apocalypse at 2240.
The argument is that God said ‘let there be light’ 3760 years before the birth of Christ.
According to the Talmud, there will be 1000 years of existence of every day God took to create the world.
The seventh day he rested, along with a tumultuous transition in 1000 years of earthly rule by means of a messiah.
Do the math, and the 6000 years of creation will expire in 2240.
And then there is the Qur’an Code … which also makes use of the dubious art of numerology the end in 2280.
Admittedly, someone is going to be a prophecy (a kind of) right eventually — through a simple process or elimination.
If there is no Messianic despot unleashes a nuclear war. If there is no operation of the heavenly movement to bring an asteroid within Earth’s embrace. If there is no plague turns us into hordes of zombies … our Sun will eventually run out of fuel.
If it starts to eat itself in its final years, it will expand — the burning Earth to a crisp. That date is also a moving target: the science still does not fully understand the forces at play inside a living star.
But we have a good 7.6 billion years to figure it out.
MENTAL LOOPHOLES IN THE LAW
Bias. It’s all about seeing what we expect and want to see, often based on what we know.
It is an inherent part of the way our brain come to conclusions with the least possible mental processing. But it can be especially problematic when making decisions under conditions of uncertainty, says Dr. Arnold.
And we are living in uncertain times.
“Having the uncertainty about the relatively minor aspects of our lives, such as which brand of food is the best to buy, it is unlikely that causes us a lot of worry in the grand scheme of things,” the Dr. Arnold says.
But the uncertainty with regard to the ‘state of the world’, for example, the constant news about the threat of a nuclear war, terrorist attacks, et cetera — produces fear and anxiety.
“So, for some people believe in the apocalypse-like prophecies can help with this worry and anxiety by giving them something to focus on, a goal to strive for,” Dr. Arnold says.
“For religious prophecies of this purpose may involve the positioning of yourself to be one of the chosen “saved” on the day that the world ends, while for secular prophecies (such as Y2K), the objective can be focused on preparing to survive the potentially difficult circumstances created by a catastrophic event.”
It is here that the mental shortcuts that serve us so well in the day-to-day decision-making start to break down.
A demonstration of a simple test performed in the early 1970s.
Subjects were asked that, if they were random words from a text in English, would be more likely that these words would begin with the letter “r” or the letter “r” as the third letter.
Here the brain takes a shortcut known as the ‘availability heuristic’ to make a decision. It is easier to think of words that begin with “r”, then go through the repeated mental gymnastics necessary to identify those with an “r” as their third letter. If easier to identify makes more ‘r’ to start words quickly available for the brain, it wrongly becomes convinced that these are the most common words.
They are not.
This is also part of the reasoning behind the popularity of apocalyptic prophecy. Because the stories, scenarios, and mythologies are widely told, many people interpret this as “more likely” than the unknown, it is difficult to understand that the rules of physics.
This is reinforced by other heuristic or mental shortcut — a so-called confirmation bias.
“This is going to be the search out or only pay attention to information that is suitable for a faith,” Dr. Arnold says. “For example, the confirmation bias can support people have faith in an apocalyptic prophecy, because they are beginning to focus on events, information, etc., that seem to confirm the prophecy.”
By concentrating on the support of the evidence and ignoring information that might expose their faith to be strengthened.
“Also, they have several examples to share with the people why others should also believe in the prophecy,” she says.
This story was previously published in the news.com.au.