Archives de Tag: scepticism

Dear Guardian: That was a very silly article you did on Bugarach (and no, there’s no Mayan prophecy)

From time to time, even a respected press outlet gets in on the 2012-en-of-the-world bandwagon. This time, it’s Britain’s The Guardian, with the breathless title: « Bugarach: the French village destined to survive the Mayan apocalypse ».

Article by Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian’s Paris correspondant

The content of the article is quite disingenuous, with statements like:

« According to a prophecy/internet rumour, which no one has ever quite got to the bottom of, an ancient Mayan calendar has predicted the end of the world will happen on the night of 21 December 2012, and only one place on earth will be saved: the sleepy village of Bugarach. »

Actually, we know quite well what’s going on. There’s even a whole Wikipedia webpage devoted to « The 2012 phenomenon », with discussion of the ancient Mayan calendar (no, NOT a prophecy) which was wrongly interpreted as showing an « end » to their time counting… just like our yearly calendars end on the 31st December, only to start again on January 1st of the year after that!

There’s also a Wikipedia page for Bugarach, with a mention of the cult settlements who gave rise to some serious concern here in France… but Ms Chrisafis’s article doesn’t tell us much more than what is already on the free encyclopedia, or in the various articles it links to.

As for the people of Bugarach, they have good reasons to be a bit wary of their celebrity among occultists, New Agers… and the world’s media. The Guardian‘s article acknowledges this, with what looks like unintentional humour (or perhaps is it faint sneer?):

« The oddity is that tourist bookings this year seem to be down slightly, not up. The usual walkers, eco-tourists and people coming for spiritual retreats seemed put off by news crews doing lives-to-camera on armageddon. »

Odd, indeed, to avoid a media circus when you just are looking for a place to enjoy nature in peace, far from the madding crowd…

Must be something special with the French, whom our dear British neighbours love to look down on, and scrutinize as if they were from another species.

H.P. Lovecraft, sceptic

He was always good for a quote, wasn’t he?

«I am disillusioned enough to know that no man’s opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he’s talking about.»

H.P. Lovecraft (in a letter to Mr. Harris, February 25 to March 1, 1929).

(I know, the preferred spelling in American English is «skeptic», but considering the strong Anglophilia of HPL, I deem the British form more appropriate here.)

How to make your own conspiracy theory

From (where else?) Cracked.com! Click to enlarge and read the story about the amazing power of Pyramids… Well, according to some conspiracy theory, that is.

Hat tip to Skepchick Amanda.

Dauntless

You got to hand it to Steve Novella (Neurologica, SGU, etc.): after a few rounds of harsh criticism from left and right in the skeptics’ camp about his calm, reasoned stance on AGW, he would have been justified to keep quiet for a time and let the ambers cool down, right?

But no, he’s done it again – with GM crops, this time!

Arguing from actual evidence, on such a hot-button topic? Now, that’s being intrepid. I take off my cap to you, sir.