News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Science, Pseudoscience, and My Love of the End of the World


I have a morbid fascination with Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. He interviews guests regarding topics such as ghosts, UFOS, governmental conspiracies, and end-of-the-world scenarios. Tonight his guests were David Booth and Wayne Green. David Booth claims to have had a psychic dream about a global disaster sometime this coming autumn. Tonight was their second appearance, but they were suppose to include information about David Booth’s recent meeting with the last surviving member of the three children who witnessed the Miracles of Fatima in 1917. He was surprisingly reticent to talk about this meeting and finally George Noory demanded that he provide more information or he was going to open calls with his listeners instead. He said if he wanted to rehash their first appearance, he would have just replayed that show.

Most of these shows are bs, full of bad science. However, as a window into human psychology the show is fascinating. I was impressed by Mr. Noory tonight, as he is usually, in my opinion, much too accommodating of his guests. David Booth claims that 97 percent of the world’s population will be wiped out, yet he provided no new information and instead kept referring to his video and book available for purchase. If I’ve only got about six months yet to live, I’m not going to spend my money on his damn video and book. Mr. Noory basically said the same tonight, albeit with more grace.

Still, this show really is full of bs, and I’m sure my sudden fascination will be brief. Periodically, there are legitimate scientists on but they often come across as more boring than their pseudoscientific counterparts. As I’ve mentioned before, true science is often perceived as boring, but it is one sure sign of legitimacy. I wish there was a late night show devoted to real science.

By the way, I love stories about the end of the world. That is why I had more patience with these particular guests than others. I don’t believe what they say but I find the idea fascinating. One of my favorite subgenres of science fiction is disaster fiction, like Greg Bear’s novel “The Forge of God”, and the movies “Independence Day” and “Deep Impact”.

I question my interest in the Technology Singularity because of this. We all believe in things not necessarily because our beliefs are based on facts but because they provide some sort of psychological comfort or release. In commentary and media it is not good to undercut yourself, but in science it is essential to constantly question your motives. Science is about discovering truth, not sating one’s own desires. Of course, I still believe a Technology Singularity is coming, but this assertation demands proof and I will continue to question the validity of the idea right up until it happens.

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