Editorial: Apocalypse nope

Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012

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OPINION: So far so good . . .

But even if the world really is just hours away from a cataclysmic end as predicted by the Mayans, and interpreted by assorted goofballs, you have to consider the upside.

It means we go out as rugby world champions, baby. And if anyone mentions that England result, well let's just say it's a lucky escape for them.

Even if the Mayans did pin doomsday down to the very hour, the time zone differences mean their December 21 is our December 22. So, another upside, we've managed to squeeze in pretty much an extra day.

Call it scepticism, cynicism the mainstream media's inability to see the big picture, but doomsday cults get scant respect hereabouts.

It's not that we're serene, exactly. It's that we have more- pressing matters not to be serene about.

Look, it's nearly Christmas. When you're under that kind of pressure, who has time to fret about oblivion? As someone said, on December 22 the stores are going to be filled with far-from-relieved Mayans desperately trying a last-minute Christmas shopping catch-up. It really is a lose-lose deal for them.

Among the great minds of our time contemplating the lessons of our predicted collective demise, the late-night United States talkshow hosts have been at it. Jay Leno points out that Lindsay Lohan's behaviour is starting to make a lot of sense.

"She's been partying her brains out. She owes taxes. She's crashing cars. She's a genius!"

David Letterman has advice for his American audience. Over there it's a Friday so he suggests, you know, dress casual.

Those of a more-analytical bent say the Mayan Apocalypse is something of a rarity in that there's usually a cult leader behind such movements. This one is more of a grassroots deal. This might explain a certain lack of focus when it comes to the actual source of our deaths. Is the Sun going to kill us with a massive solar storm, even though this has not been an especially active "solar max" period in the 11-year solar cycle? Will Earth's magnetic poles flip? Will Planet X (the one that has hitherto escaped notice of our inattentive astronomers) bash into us? Or will the planets align?

At this stage, we're going to go with no.

As for all that evidence being brandished, Victoria University psychologist Marc Wilson reminds us of a tendency for "confirmation bias" in which we are particularly alert to evidence that confirms what we already believe, and are liable to show a less-than-diligent interest in evidence that goes against it.

Of course he would say that, because he's an academic and those Victoria smarties have probably got their spaceship at the ready and don't want the rest of us clambering to get in.

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The fact is there have been at least 100 internationally recognisable doomsdays predicted since 2000, none of which has come to anything much.

And, from that, some people will determine that we can really draw only one conclusion.

We're due.

Which, at very least, seems like a fair excuse for a party or two.

- The Southland Times

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