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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Camping Changes Date of Judgement Day

I figured he would give a revised date but I didn’t figure it would be this soon.

Harold Camping

Pick a date, any date!

From the AP:

California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

I was thinking he would push it back a few years. but he went ahead and said October. Which was supposed to be the date the World would be destroyed.

But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Saturday was “an invisible judgment day” in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

“We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning,” he said. “May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment.”

I love the “Even though we were wrong, we’re still right” mentality. He’s got a great life coach.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast on Monday, Camping made a special statement before the press at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message. His show, “Open Forum,” has for months headlined his doomsday message via the group’s radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website.

When the Rapture didn’t arrive Saturday, crestfallen followers began turning their attention to more earthly concerns.

Jeff Hopkins had figured the gas money he spent driving back and forth from Long Island to New York City would be worth it, as long as people could see the ominous sign atop his car warning that the End of the World was nigh.

“I’ve been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I’ve been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car,” said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, NY. “I was doing what I’ve been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I’ve been stymied. It’s like getting slapped in the face.”

Camping said Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their possessions.

“That is between them and God,” he said.

So that means that all the people that believed his hype and gave away all their possessions and money will get nothing from them. I swear I just heard someone say lawsuit…

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically — even within faith traditions — about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus’ return can be predicted.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” novels about the end times, recently called Camping’s prediction “not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!” He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, “but about that day or hour no one knows” except God.

“While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they ‘know’ the day and the hour is flat out wrong,” LaHaye wrote on his website, leftbehind.com.

In 2009, the nonprofit Family Radio reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

We need to find out what stocks they hold…

The End of the World Party Was a Great Success

I want to give a big thanks to everyone that came out for our End of the World Party last night. It was an amazing time! We went went way over how many people were expected to come and over filled the venue. Fortunately everyone was very nice and accommodating and we just simply squeezed ourselves in.

Also a special thanks to Station 885 letting us come in at the last minute and giving us the venue to use. We were much too big to fit into Ginger’s back room and were actually too big for the room we had at station 885. We had about 50 people show up. And the food was still excellent and the waitstaff worked extra hard for us.

White Eotw Shirt

White End of the World Party shirt

Don’t forget to order your special EotW Party Tshirts from our MISkeptics store. They will be up for a limited time so get them while you can!

There were also several people that were first timers to MISkeptics and I would like to give a big WELCOME  to them. Since we were mentioned in The Detroit News there has been a lot of buzz flowing around and that helped us to see many new faces and friends. So thanks to everyone that came out and we look forward to seeing you again!

There were several people that had asked for me to provide the images I used in the slideshow we used during the party so I have uploaded them to an album that you can access from our forums. All the images are there for you so have fun downloading!

It seems that there was one complaint last night about our revelry. One single gentleman, apparently very religious, was offended that Station 885 served us, not to mention let us in the building. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get much detail because the managers blew the matter off faster than we would have. I was hoping for picketers but we’ll just have to try harder next time!

Speaking of next time, our next Get Together will be Staurday, June 11th at 4:00 PM at our usual restaurant, Ginger. This is going to be a social gathering so there will be no speaker or presentation. But there will be lively discussions, great conversations and most importantly, laughter! If you’ve never been to one of our social Get Togethers you are missing out on a fun experience. Our last social Get Together had discussions ranging from current events to Shake Weight commercials. Yes, you know what we were talking about…

MISkeptics Get Together

These mugs are also available from the MISkeptics Store!

We have some more great news coming down the pipeline. The Drunken Skeptics are coming back to a podcast aggregator near you! After an extended hiatus the team is back and recording new episodes! Expect a brief episode to come out this week then we return with a brand new full episode in the coming weeks. We have some great segments, interviews and news for you so stay tuned for more information!

Also, The Michigan Skeptics Association is looking for contributors to our site and forums. If you are a skeptic, now matter how experienced, and think you have what it takes, send a sample article to admin(a)miskeptics.org.

That’s it for now. Check back often for Drunken Skeptics updates. We look forward to seeing you at the next Get Together. And until then, keep thinking!

The End of the World Party

Harold Camping

Harold Camping, the founder of Family Radio and the guy that came up with May 21st

The founder of Family Radio, Harold Camping, has predicted that Judgement Day will be May 21st. And the world will end on October 21st.

Which will be nice. I’ve been looking forward to the peace and quiet.

While we’re waiting for the everyone to be judged and head off to heaven I figured that would be the perfect time to have a party! The Michigan Skeptics Association is hosting their End of the World Party on Saturday, May 21st at 4:00 PM. We’ve had to change from our usual venue to Station 885 because of the large turnout we’re expecting!

Station 885 is located at: 885 Starkweather, Plymouth, Michigan 48170

Click here for a map

We have a lot of fun things planned. There will be a presentation, games, prizes, end of the world related music,  terrible jokes and an altogether fun environment or frivolity. I have spotters around the world that will inform me the moment Jesus shows up. I for one know he won’t show. I haven’t heard from him since he borrowed 50 bucks off of me…

George Hrab

George Hrab

Speaking of games and prizes, the one and only maestro himself George Hrab has donated a few signed copies of his latest album, Trebuchet to MISkeptics to give to you wonderful people. Now I’ve been made aware that some of you don’t know who Geo is or what his relevance is to the Skeptic community. For shame. I will now take it upon myself to educate you on the maestro.

George, or Geo to his friends (no I’m not one of them) is a talented musician with the Philadelphia Funk Authority, and when he’s not on tour across the world or speaking at major events like TAM, he hosts the Geologic Podcast. A whirlwind of music, skepticism, atheism, his mom, and interesting news. I definitely recommend subscribing to his show.

Now I mentioned his latest album Trebuchet, of which he gave me several signed copies for our End of the World Party. I guess it would be only fitting to show you what’s on the CD. So here is a live video for God is not Great, which is the first track on the CD.

So everyone be sure to come on out. It’s going to be a blast! And remember May 22nd is post Rapture looting day!

Everyone’s a Believer

While surfing the interwebs today I stumbled across a Scientific American blog post titled, How Do You ID a Dead Osama? which caught my attention, but not just for the subject, which I had found myself pondering previously. (Say those last two words five times fast.) The question the author leads with, “But how do they know it’s him?” got me to thinking about conversations I’ve had in the past on the concept of proof.

As a skeptic, who was previously a fundamentalist Christian, the idea of proof has come up frequently. What I’ve noticed is that we all have our own opinion of what “enough” evidence is in order to qualify as “proof” of something. If you’re smart, you’ll hitch your opinion to something strong like Science so that you don’t have to carry the weight of argument all on your own. But even then, variation abounds. (And you can lessen the weight even by hitching to things not so strong, as long as there are enough others that share it who you can fall back on.) Depending on whether you want to believe something or not, your required level of proof will increase or decrease. I would argue that this is directly a result of confirmation bias. So, the question to me seemed to be “is there an objective level of proof that is really proof?”

Lets say I believe a tree that I’m looking at has orange leaves. I look at it, the leaves look orange, so it seems like a no brainer. So I don’t think of it in terms of my believing that the leaves are red, it’s just a fact. Then you come along, and because you can never leaf me alone you tell me that you’re sure the leaves are green. After wondering if you’re on crack, I tell you that you’re wrong. You start giving me reasons to back up your position. You tell me that most trees have green leaves. You tell me that it’s the middle of June and that Fall hasn’t started yet. All good logical arguments that would seem to back up your position. If you’re convincing enough, I may start to doubt my initial observation in favor of the weight of your arguments. You may at some point “prove” to me that you’re right. So where is the objectivity regarding proof? It could go the other way, given my charm, and I may convince you the leaves are really green. We both feel that it would take enough proof from the other in order to change our minds.

If proof is an arbitrary measurement of reality, I’m not so sure we should be so hung up on proving things to each other. At the end of the day, it would seem to come down to belief. For everything that requires our brain to sign off on an opinion, we each have an equation that helps us get through the moment. Some things provide better (or more voluminous) proof by gathering more consistent details, but if they fail to convince everyone who learns of them can they be called proof?

This was also likely called to mind because I’m in the middle of reading The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the mind and the myth of the self by Thomas Metzinger. One section of which jumped out at me…

The world is not inhabited by colored objects at all. It is just as your physics teacher in high school told you: Out there, in front of your eyes, there is just an ocean of electromagnetic radiation, a wild and raging mixture of different wavelengths. Most of them are invisible to you and can never become part of your conscious model of reality. What is really happening is that the visual system in your brain is drilling a tunnel through this inconceivably rich physical environment and in the process is painting the tunnel walls in various shades of color. Phenomenal color. Appearance. For your conscious eyes only.

So add on top of confirmation bias the problem of perception (being forever trapped behind a time-delayed interpretive model) and how can we ever truly know a dang thing?

Some people might consider this a reason to not worry about proof, and to just hold hands and accept any reality our neighbor claims is there. But not me, I’m stubborn. (And, as my two failed marriages lend evidence to, sometimes slow to learn.) In any case, I can’t help but continue to feel that it’s a question of understanding ourselves. And that the more we learn, the closer we can get to understanding Universe. (Multiverse, whatever.)

Oh, and since I brought it up, the evidence used to prove that we got the right Osama was a combination of a DNA test (99.9% percent confidence) and facial recognition software (about 95% certainty). Probably certain enough for most folks, though I won’t doubt in the least that there will be plenty who claim he’s still alive and out there somewhere ready to direct the next attack because the aforementioned evidence isn’t “enough” for various reasons.

While trying to consider a moral to this story I thought maybe I would say that it’s that we should be more tolerant of others beliefs. But that seems to much like the end of a South Park episode. I think my suggested take away here would be to encourage you to examine your own decisions on what constitutes proof, particularly in situations of debate.

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