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Okay first I’m going to suggest you look at this video before reading the rest of this. I want it to sink into your head first so that maybe as you read the rest of this crazy blog post it’ll slowly dawn on you where I’m going before I get there. I call this planting worms in your brain.

Hold still. This won’t hurt a bit. (and please support SciShow News if you love it as much as me, but have more money than I do.)

I hesitate to link to the guy I link to in the next paragraph cuz I don’t wanna give him free press, but this is just the latest example of an ongoing behavior pattern human beings exhibit that I wish to shine a light on this morning.. or afternoon.. time’s a relative thing, isn’t it? Besides I only got maybe a half dozen regular readers (*waves* hi! thank you!) so it’s not like this free press is gonna turn him into the next Jerry Falwell anywhere outside his own mind.

He calls himself Steve Fletcher (please don’t support him financially or any other way you’d just encourage his behavior). I don’t know if that’s his real name or a pseudonym and I don’t care. Perhaps someone else will bother to investigate him further. Again, I don’t care. He’s just a place marker to me for getting to a grander point. Why shine a flashlight on this guy for a nanosecond? Cuz he claims that as of this writing, the world as we know it will somehow end in four or five days, when a piece of rock spiraling through space which the media has dubbed “Comet ISON” is going to fly through our solar system on it’s way to No God knows where.

First off “Comet ISON” is misnamed, probably by an ignorant press. The appropriate name for this comet is “Comet Nevski–Novichonok” as current scientific nomenclature etiquette is to name the comet not after the network from which it was reported, but by the astronomers who first discovered it. For example, Comet Shoemaker-Levy was named after the two guys who found it before it crashed into Jupiter, not the observatories they worked in at the time. Of course, whatever we call it is irrelevant cuz a comet doesn’t care any more about what you name it than a cat cares how you get it out of a tree when it gets stuck.

Fletcher feels this comet’s arrival is significant, and he uses Twitter and Facebook to repeatedly make this point, more often than I use Twitter to remind anyone still following me that if they believe in a god, they can’t prove it so *insert raspberry sound effect here* and I don’t care. For example, Fletcher has pointed out that there have recently been seven volcanoes erupting, which he claims is heralding the arrival of this comet. Scientifically there is no evidence supporting any relationship between terran geologic phenomena and a large rock flying by our solar system. There’s rocks of all kinds that fly around us all the time. We call one of them The Moon and we can prove it affects the tides and there’s some circumstantial evidence supporting it affects women’s menstrual cycles but that’s about it. O’Reilly can’t explain it, but so what? He’s a fruitcake.

The idea that there are seven volcanoes or seven anything right at this time being significant is a fallacy and an illusion. It’s like the superstition that dead celebrities always come in threes. A cursory examination of the Dead People’s Server proves beyond a reasonable doubt that old adage is pure and utter poppycock, and so is this seven volcanoes thing. Volcanoes erupt all the time. Natural disasters occur haphazardly and seemingly at random. We’ve had some strange weather patterns recently like hurricanes and tornadoes and wintry storms but if you look throughout history these things have happened before. It’s certainly nothing new. Scientific data is pointing to the possibility that if anything is causing natural phenomena to happen more often it’s more indicative of what mankind is doing to its own environment than what’s happening out in space.

I have repeatedly tweeted Fletcher saying that in a few days, after nothing significant happens, he will be virtually standing there looking like a dumb ass. Of course he’s ignoring me. I’m not his target audience. He’s looking for gullible people. Whether he’s honestly delusional and believes his own rhetoric, or a con man who is trying to get people to give him money on some promise that he can save them from the inevitable apocalypse, I don’t care. The end result is the same, and I have history and science backing me up on that.

whatitfeelikeThis con game is nothing new. Throughout recorded human history we have previous examples of dates predicting the end of the world as we know it. I’m well aware that link goes to Wikipedia which many people don’t believe is a reputable source. You’re welcome to double check their findings if you’d like. I don’t believe in Wikipedia either but that doesn’t change the fact it’s been more helpful on average than say ancient Abrahamic texts that are only altered during “translations” and then claim to have never been changed for thousands of years, yet it’s the Living Word of a God which applies to you today even though it’s historically inaccurate and contains many passages we can prove are scientifically, geographically, culturally, and sociologically fallacious, sometimes to egregious extremes.

Oh but it’s harmless, right? Why should we make a deal about a crazy lunatic with a Facebook page spreading blatant lies filled with fear and hate? Well, cuz it’s happened before. An example of this con game involving a comet specifically was the Heaven’s Gate tragedy where thirty-nine people committed suicide in March of 1997 after being convinced by their cult leaders that the Hale-Bopp comet hid behind it aliens who would take their souls to a better place provided they killed each other’s “vessels” just right in a ritual that would bring about a new start with the aliens, leaving behind an Earth doomed after their departure to be destroyed in some crazy cataclysm. That’s just one example. Sounds insane, right? How could even a single soul believe such a crazy story? Well, thirty-nine people fell for it. Marshall Applewhite wasn’t even good at this compared to other con men who have tricked larger numbers of people into believing totally fabricated and unprovable malarkey. There are many other examples but I don’t want to describe every single one. John Jones. John Smith. L. Ron Hubbard. Sometimes a comet isn’t used. Sometimes the cult leader uses other events to prove to their followers that the end times are upon us and don’t you want to be saved and I know just how to do it if you follow me. Most fade into obscurity, but some examples of End Times scenarios survive past their failure into religions in their own right like Mormonism, Scientology, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sometimes they kick the can down the road, or claim that their predictions came true after the fact but just not the way they thought, and that we are indefinitely existing in the End Times now. The Westboro Baptist Church leaders predicted an end time that came and went, and they’re still kicking. Whether they fall into obscurity or become their own offshoot of Christianity remains to be seen. This is not a new phenomenon. It’s been happening for thousands of years. Arguably when “John” wrote the book of Revelation, he expected to see it come true in his own lifetime. Mankind has been subjected to this carrot and stick reward/punishment of the mind for over two millennia.

24_-_Destroyed_mosque-650x487a I’ve recently read that the country of Angola has outlawed Islam and two hundred other belief systems. However, the political power of the country is still allowing other religions it has deemed legal including Roman Catholicism, Protestant Christianity and many indigenous belief systems that are cultural and traditional to the region. They’re essentially choosing some beliefs over others, as if the beliefs that work with the government are somehow more real and acceptable than the ones that refused to cater to whatever requirements the government demands. This is a slippery slope, isn’t it? How can any political system objectively determine one belief system is more worthy than another? Especially since political ideologies are themselves just belief systems? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

I stole this from a random Reddit comment. I have no idea of its authenticity or accuracy. Here’s allegedly a population percentage breakdown of who in Angola believes in what. Notice that a lack of faith is curiously absent from this breakdown. Feel free to make your own pie chart.

47% Indigenous
38% Catholic
15% Protestant
2% Muslim
47+38+15+2= 102%

Believe in statistics at your peril, but according to statistics, there’s a very small minority in Angola who follow Islam anyway. So why make it illegal if there’s not many people in Angola worshiping Allah over Yahweh or (insert indigenous Angola gods here)? Well perhaps it’s the bad press that Islam gets in other parts of the world, and perhaps it’s things muslims say themselves like declaring holy wars on anyone who disagrees with them, and occasionally strapping bombs to themselves and wandering into public commerce centers in order to make political statements about how great their god is. That’s a big turn off for me and I live nowhere near South Africa.

So what exactly is it that causes an otherwise normal human being to strap some explosives to his chest and walk into the middle of a shopping center like this is totally normal behavior? Well, it’s a belief system. Where did he get this belief system? He didn’t pull it out of his own ass. It was put into his ass by other people. Usually his own family members or elders in his community, or perhaps outsiders that he is somehow convinced to accept as authorities over his own well being and common sense. Whoever these people are, they utilize religion to convince this person that if he straps a bomb to his chest, or maybe flies a plane into Pearl Harbor or the World Trade Center, or maybe if he contaminates himself with diseases or radiation poisoning and then goes up to complete strangers or any number of other crazy stupid things, that somehow this behavior is a good thing. He will be rewarded after he’s dead. He will improve the livelihood of friends and family somehow. He will be remembered as a martyr and a hero to the cause of his community. They tell him whatever they think he wants to hear in order to get him to do this crazy stupid thing that hurts other people and makes a big stink in the name of their god, who apparently can’t bother to raise a stink for himself cuz he’s too busy not existing or pretending to be all mysterious and shit.

Now, remember at the beginning of this crazy blog post I asked you to watch Hank Green explain how parasitic organisms get into the brains of insects and small animals in order to make them do stuff that benefits the parasite? I submit that on a metaphorical level, this is precisely what religion does to humanity. Sometimes it’s not about blowing shit up. Sometimes it’s just about walking up and down a street knocking on doors asking people if they’ve heard about Jesus. This is like spreading the virus around. When a human being walks around with unproved Abrahamic beliefs in their brain, they are like a rat that is infected by Toxoplasma Gondii, and if they do something that brings themselves or others at risk, that’s like Toxoplasma Gondii telling the rat it’s a good idea to go towards the cat and wave at it.

I have in the past repeatedly proven that Abrahamics is wrong. Feel free to read previous blog posts if you don’t believe me. I’m tired of repeating myself. I’m getting de ja vu already. I have the feeling I’ve covered some of this material before in previous blog posts, but nothing I’ve said in my blog is really novel or new. We’ve known about a lot of this stuff since before Galileo. Perhaps even since before Plato. Religion is full of shit and that shit has gross parasites in it.

Yet people still believe. Religions still proliferate. You would think that something as fiendishly crafty and dangerous to rats like Toxoplasma Gondii would cause its own extinction, cuz it can only continue its life cycle if it can convince rat brains to go get eaten by cats. So those rats gullible enough to fall for Toxoplasma Gondii’s plans are removed from the gene pool and only the ones immune to this con would survive to create the next generation. And yet, somehow this works. Which means there’s something going on here that’s potent which we don’t understand yet.

I hear of doubters and skeptics claiming they will see the end of religion in their lifetime. This to me is yet another unproved belief, which current evidence does not support. There have been doubters throughout history. Usually they are killed or shunned by society’s masses, who tend to fall for belief systems more readily than the few skeptics. This has until recently kept the population of doubters in check. When nonbelievers become a political force to reckon with, believers just get all jihady or crusadey or otherwise rationalize their violent tendencies and turn nonbelievers into manure for plants. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust and all that. There are doubters and skeptics today who believe those days are far behind us, and this time we won’t be silenced by violence. Again, I see no evidence supporting that assumption. We simply haven’t become a force scary enough for believers to get all crazy about yet.

And maybe those of us who are actually vocal about the absurdity of spreading fear and hate through ignorance under the guise of peace and love are really the metaphorical rat running towards the cat. Maybe it’s the ones smart enough to keep their mouths shut, and find ways to work within the confines of this complicated belief structure to perhaps become con artists themselves by perpetuating the lies and gaining power, maybe they’re the ones who survive and perpetuate their seed to future generations, thus keeping the tradition of misinformation alive indefinitely, while those of us dumb enough to stand up and be counted get mowed down with the next harvest.

..or maybe we have nothing to worry about. Meow.