Enjoy Winter Solstice 2012!

It’s the moment of the Winter Solstice, an event that has both cultural relevance around the world and is an element of a real science (Astronomy). Read something meaningful today, like Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” (http://books.google.ca/books/about/Demon_Haunted_World.html?id=5QpLlsPPM_YC&redir_esc=y)

Today (21 December 2012) was hyped onto a cottage industry of world-wide catastrophe by a few self-interested charlatans who prayed on the gullible. It’s a very, very old story. Carl Sagan has been quoted as saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The whole proposition that an ancient Mayan calendar foretold that today would be the end of the world was based on less than evidence – just a misinterpretation of an ancient document. This was not the first time, or the last time, that whole industries will be built on taking ancient texts and cooling up some baloney about their inferred meaning for the future.

There is only one knowledge system that can make evidence-based predictions about the future, and that’s science. Furthermore, the method of science is dependent on putting out predictions and then testing them against nature. In science, a failed prediction just means that the hypothesis upon which it was based was falsified – it didn’t work, and we try again. In chicanery a failed prediction has no consequences, except that it’s further evidence that, as is attributed (without evidence that he said it) to P. T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” It’s sad. The universe is beautiful, mysterious, and rich beyond the imaginings of any of us, modern or ancient. Get to know it for itself. Look for yourself, ask questions for yourself. Get to understand. Reject what doesn’t work. And – surprise – you will be applying the scientific method yourself. It’s not about believing in anything except that the evidence you can trust is evidence that has passed the test of being put up against the touchstone of nature.

© 2012, David Allan Galbraith