End of the world

Discuss Marilyn's column in PARADE magazine.

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End of the world

Postby robert 46 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:58 am

Parade wrote:Ask Marilyn: So, Is the World Going to End, or What?
ask marilyn Marilyn vos Savant February 04, 2012
Paul May of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, writes:


Marilyn: I'm sure a lot of us would like your perspective on the 2012 situation. Quite a few ancient civilizations, most notably the Mayans, have forecast the the end of our days. What scares me is that current science seems to collaborate with some scenarios. NASA expects high solar activity during 2012. Four "super volcanos" could erupt at any time. Major earthquakes could occur from the extra weight caused by the ice melting at the poles. Asteroid strike? Alien invasion? Nuclear war? All of this is very unsettling. I know I'm going to die sometime, but I don't want to die miserably. What do you think of all this?

Marilyn responds:

I suggest that you turn off the television or at least choose programming that has serious scientific backing. You're hearing a lot of nonsense from sensational sources, and the part that is factual (for example, variations in solar activity) isn't cause for alarm. Humans have been running around for at least 2.5 million years, and nothing cataclysmic is going to happen next year.

(Italics added)

The Mayan prediction is the end of the world on 2012-12-21, so if Marilyn did not draft this response in 2011, it is not all that reassuring.

Cataclysm: broadly, an event that brings great changes.

What is going to happen next year is not of much import, but what is going to happen this year can be of some moment. The people in Pompeii were probably not much concerned before AD 79 either. I think the November election in the U.S. is likely to be the next big disaster no matter what the results- not to imply that an earlier one cannot happen.

***** 2012-02-07

Quite a few ancient civilizations, most notably the Mayans, have forecast the the end of our days.

Based entirely on superstition, and a pessimistic attitude about humanity (which has reasonable validity).
What scares me is that current science seems to collaborate with some scenarios.

And yet many people are still in denial about global warming.
NASA expects high solar activity during 2012.

There is a well-known sunspot cycle, which is on the increase, but the variation in solar activity is not all that great.
Four "super volcanos" could erupt at any time.

For example Yellowstone park, but "any time" is a vacuous expression
Major earthquakes could occur from the extra weight caused by the ice melting at the poles.

Not likely. Major earthquakes are caused by accumulated stresses along locked fault lines. The more "locked" the fault, the greater the earthquake when it lets go. The stress of the weight of ice sheets is minor.
Asteroid strike?

Possible, but it is a big solar system, and the earth a relatively small target.
Alien invasion?

As in "extra-terrestrial"??? I'd expect E.T.s to stay as far away from this ridiculous planet as they can. Yet there are plenty of alien invasions: Burmese pythons in FL, zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, lionfish in the Atlantic, rabbits in Australia, etc. The most disastrous alien invasion was when human ancestors came out of Africa onto the rest of the globe, however.
Nuclear war?

With whom? The only threat on the horizon is between Iran and Israel. If Iran starts it, I expect that Persia will be removed from the map and the land divided up among the neighboring nations. The greatest lost opportunity in history was when the U.S. was the only nation with nuclear bombs. Patton said to Truman that if he gave the okay, Patton would get us into a war with the Soviets within two weeks and it would look like they started it. [1] Truman balked. That was the golden opportunity to remove communism from the world. Instead Eastern Europe was enslaved for 45 years. MacArthur asked Truman for authorization to use up to six nuclear bombs on communist China to get them out of the Korean War. By then it was too late, however, and Truman sacked MacArthur. [2]
All of this is very unsettling. I know I'm going to die sometime, but I don't want to die miserably.

From what I've seen, people mostly die miserably in hospitals and nursing homes. Better to go quickly in a calamity of some kind.
What do you think of all this?

Marilyn responds:

I suggest that you turn off the television or at least choose programming that has serious scientific backing. You're hearing a lot of nonsense from sensational sources, and the part that is factual (for example, variations in solar activity) isn't cause for alarm. Humans have been running around for at least 2.5 million years, and nothing cataclysmic is going to happen next year.

There is no rational basis for the statement "nothing cataclysmic is going to happen next year" because induction is not a form of proof. To say "all ravens are black" requires only finding one non-black raven to disprove. Saying "all swans are white" was disproved when black swans were discovered. In the animal world, there are melanistic (dark) subspecies, and albino mutants, so one would expect there to be an albino raven somewhere [3], and a melanistic swan [4]. Where I lived in New York there was a colony of black squirrels: a melanistic subspecies of the gray squirrel. I once saw a large flock of turkey vultures, which look black (actually they are dark brown), and among them was an albino with a very sunburned head.

It is the absolute quality of the statement which makes it false. No one argues with "some ravens are black" or "some swans are white". To say "nothing cataclysmic is going to happen" is an absolute statement, and is thereby unprovable because all cataclysmic possibilities cannot be ruled out a priori. On the one hand, "what will be will be"; on the other hand, "what will be" has no referent. So no one knows what will be until it is.

*****

If instead of the absolute statement "nothing cataclysmic is going to happen next year" we consider "anything cataclysmic happening next year has a very low probability", we have the problem of defining the expression "anything cataclysmic" and quantifying "very low probability". So neither statement is factual, and whatever reassurance intended is unsupported by logic; but, rather, is an appeal to emotion.

[1] http://www.rense.com/general85/pats.htm
[2] http://hnn.us/articles/9245.html
[3] http://www.vancouverislandbirds.com/aju ... ven071.jpg
[4] http://www.lifeonperth.com/standingswan.jpg
Last edited by robert 46 on Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby JO 753 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:26 am

In my opinion, it gets tedious very quickly when you try to be too precise in conversations of any kind. Marilyn's column is essentially a conversation with her readers.

Writing something like 'there will be no Earth shattering cataclism next year' is a safe call, statisticly speaking, and is a much more effective response than a long shpiel full of equivicating buts and maybes.
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Postby JeffJo » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:37 pm

JO 753 wrote:In my opinion, it gets tedious very quickly when you try to be too precise in conversations of any kind. Marilyn's column is essentially a conversation with her readers.

Writing something like 'there will be no Earth shattering cataclism next year' is a safe call, statisticly speaking, and is a much more effective response than a long shpiel full of equivicating buts and maybes.

Exactly. Especially since she probably meant during the next year, which is a much more practical interpretation of "next year" than in the next calendar year.
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Postby robert 46 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:49 pm

JeffJo wrote:
JO 753 wrote:In my opinion, it gets tedious very quickly when you try to be too precise in conversations of any kind. Marilyn's column is essentially a conversation with her readers.

If that were actually the case Marilyn would be participating here.
Writing something like 'there will be no Earth shattering cataclism next year' is a safe call, statisticly speaking,

That's not what Marilyn wrote, "nothing cataclysmic is going to happen next year", without defining "cataclysmic"="earth shattering" or anything else. Would having your city buried in volcanic ash be considered "cataclysmic"? It is for the inhabitants.
and is a much more effective response than a long shpiel full of equivicating buts and maybes.

If by "effective response" you mean "idle opinion appealing to emotion".

Exactly. Especially since she probably meant during the next year, which is a much more practical interpretation of "next year" than in the next calendar year.

It is generally insignificant whether the interpretation is "next calendar year" or "during the next twelve months". How does one accurately predict a non-event? Only if the event is impossible.
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Postby JeffJo » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:12 pm

robert 46 wrote:It is generally insignificant whether the interpretation is "next calendar year" or "during the next twelve months".

Since that is the difference you originally pointed out, are you now admitting your point is (as almost all your others are) "generally insignificant" ?
How does one accurately predict a non-event? Only if the event is impossible.

I have no idea what you think you mean. I doubt you do, either; you just like to hear yourself defend your indefensible opinions.
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Postby robert 46 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:07 pm

JeffJo wrote:
robert 46 wrote:It is generally insignificant whether the interpretation is "next calendar year" or "during the next twelve months".

Since that is the difference you originally pointed out, are you now admitting your point is (as almost all your others are) "generally insignificant"?

The point is that no matter whether Marilyn's intended reassurances were for 2013 or the remainder of 2012 (including the Mayan prediction) they are equally lacking in logical support.
How does one accurately predict a non-event? Only if the event is impossible.

I have no idea what you think you mean.

It is more logical that you have no idea of what you think I mean. That's your problem.

Marilyn is saying "nothing cataclysmic is going to happen" over a time frame of a year. "Nothing cataclysmic" is a non-event. For this to be a reliable prediction, "anything cataclysmic" must be impossible. However, "anything cataclysmic" cannot be ruled out a priori.
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Postby JO 753 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:26 am

Your main desire in Marilyn's forum is to get some sort of attention from her.

I understand this. Nobody likes to be ignored and us ants way down here in non-celebrity land can sometimes feel like we are getting stepped on by everybody who ever got so much as a mention on TMZ. Especially when we hear that some air head with nothing of substance to say has gotten a million dollar book deal or a new TV show.

There is a virtual wall between us and them.

It's all about overpopulation, time and money.

Celebrities have the same number of hours per day as us, so they have to have a general policy on how to deal with the torrent of contact attempts constantly bombarding them.
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Postby robert 46 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:53 am

JO 753 wrote:Your main desire in Marilyn's forum is to get some sort of attention from her.

If you only knew the truth, you'd understand how ludicrous your statement is.
... Celebrities have the same number of hours per day as us, so they have to have a general policy on how to deal with the torrent of contact attempts constantly bombarding them.

And in Marilyn's case, it is to learn as much about me as she can- and for good reason.
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Postby JO 753 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:04 am

So tell us.
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Postby robert 46 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:15 am

JO 753 wrote:So tell us.

Among the thousands of people Marilyn has come in contact with, many through her column, someone is going to stand out from the rest, and that person is me. Attention from Marilyn is something like the difference between being given a glass of water and thrown into the ocean. A little bit of attention is beneficial, such as Marilyn answering one's question in her column, but a lot of attention is likely fatal- which I expect to have confirmed or not eventually. I am a lot smarter than Marilyn, and it has taken her some years to figure this out after considerable denial. So to all those people who would like to have more involvement with Marilyn I can say, Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it; but not until I have been removed from her microscope slide.
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Postby JO 753 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:57 am

Maybe she likes you!

But claiming to be smarter than her indicates that you are just jealous. This caused you to become obsessed and maybe delusional.

I've known some very smart people. Most of the people I know are alot dumber than I am. So I have some perspective on what it means in terms of interaction. Since Marilyn is way smarter than the smartest people I've know, I can safely say that I would be only an exasperating waste of time to her.

Granted, I don't know you. But just from the limited conversations we've had here, I know you are only about as smart as I am. Certainly better educated, but that only helps to process what you are already familiar with.

My favorite bit of wisdom is from Magnum Force, the 2nd Dirty Harry movie. "A man's got to know his limitations."

It's hard for us guys to resist the urge to compete with the people around us. We are driven by our genes and testosterone. It helps us to do great things, but it also leads us into foolishness and assclownery.

My suggestions for you: Join a chess club & get a girlfriend.
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Postby robert 46 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:44 pm

JO 753 wrote:Maybe she likes you!

Women like a challenge- such as understanding a man.
But claiming to be smarter than her indicates that you are just jealous.

You just don't know how to analyze the way Marilyn writes to delve into her intelligence. Her IQ of 228 at age 10+ really corresponds to 23/15=153 or so because a normal adult IQ is formed by age 15. It is invalid to say that Marilyn would have had the IQ of a 34 year old at the age of 15 because childhood IQ does not extend past a mental age of 23, and may not even be valid there. The tests were originally designed to evaluate children who were falling behind in development to make an assessment of the efficacy of remedial efforts- could they be brought up to a minimal level of adult functionality.

To be smarter than Marilyn I don't have to be right about everything, but only about a few things which everyone else gets wrong. I do that better than Marilyn, which is not to say that Marilyn does not also have insight into humanity's follies. So it is not a matter of jealousy but objective comparison.
This caused you to become obsessed and maybe delusional.

You make a poor armchair psychiatrist. There are enough phychologists, psychiatrists and psychometricians looking at this website to evaluate anyone who posts here. Marilyn is a very interesting person, but the majority of her readers have the greater delusion about her. To them she is almost mythical, but not to me.
I've known some very smart people. Most of the people I know are alot dumber than I am. So I have some perspective on what it means in terms of interaction. Since Marilyn is way smarter than the smartest people I've know, I can safely say that I would be only an exasperating waste of time to her.

Marilyn has been on my case for sixteen+ years. She is either smart enough or not to put that much effort into it- your choice.
Granted, I don't know you. But just from the limited conversations we've had here, I know you are only about as smart as I am.

Have you looked at all of my posts, or are you only considering our conversations?
Certainly better educated, but that only helps to process what you are already familiar with.

I try to discover which of what I have been taught, told, learned and read is wrong. Most people don't get that far in their mental development.
My suggestions for you: Join a chess club & get a girlfriend.

Chess is a waste of time, and it is easy to lose interest in most women. Marilyn is a rare exception.
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Postby JO 753 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:26 pm

You're right. I don't know the situation.

All I know is that you spend alot of time nit picking her.

Some people blow their time on video games. Some bowl. Some play chess. I like to converse in forums. How do judge what's a waste of time?

Are you in other forums?
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Postby robert 46 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:17 pm

JO 753 wrote:You're right. I don't know the situation.

All I know is that you spend alot of time nit picking her.

Marilyn is incensed about someone using her name to imply she favors homeopathy, but is lax about quashing the rumor she is a descendant of Ernst Mach. All I am interested in is the truth. I support Marilyn when I think she is right, and take her to task when I think she is wrong.
Some people blow their time on video games. Some bowl. Some play chess. I like to converse in forums. How do judge what's a waste of time?

Everything which doesn't foster a greater understanding of the universe.
Are you in other forums?

Not to be found.
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Postby JO 753 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:54 pm

I guess I'm doing the nitpiking now. :D

Are you sure she is not a decendant of his? I had a glance at that, and don't recall seeing a maternal line. Did I not look carefully enough?

Everything which doesn't foster a greater understanding of the universe.



A:

You didn't specify who should be gaining this understanding, so it implies everybody.

9 am sharp tomorrow morning I expect you to report for duty as a Nooalf Warrior private 1st class. There's alot of work to do, so be prepared for long hours.

B:

So, beyond basic survival, everything everybody's doing besides scientific research, teaching andor learning science or any subject that will help support such activities or creating technology that will help scientific research is a waste of time.

"Not to be found"?

Sounds like you want to have a little anonymity! Like you are afraid something you have said elsewhere may not hold up to scrutiny here. Or or or.... many possibilities, mostly unfavorable.
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