If you're anything like me, you probably woke up this morning and thought, "Hey, I'm not dead!"
Of course, I'm at an age when I'm pretty much astonished any morning I wake up not dead, but that's not the point.
The point is, it looks like you're going to have to pay that utility bill after all.
That's because a totally credible prediction about the end of the world based on one episode of an animated television series from the late ‘90s did not, in fact, come true, despite being buttressed by dozens of people who still live in their mom's basements.
The most recent conspiracy theory to go viral is that the world will end on September 24 of this year. And the origin for this one is none other than the beloved animated television show The Simpsons.
The Simpsons is known for having eerily accurate predictions about the future, everything from future skyscrapers in London to the Trump presidency. In this ridiculous theory, the Simpsons episode 9.24 posits "10 days of darkness" and the end of the world.
Combine that with a speech mistake a German legislator made when discussing the date of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and saying that the world "will remember September 24" and the recent solar flare activity, and people on the internet (including, ugh, QAnon) are going wild.
To be fair, the more level-headed members of the complete raving lunatic community point out that they aren't predicting the end of the world, per se, but just that "something" is going to happen.
In their defense, a lot of somethings probably happened on 9/24. I had a sandwich, as just one example.
Here's the thing about making predictions.
If you make enough of them, some day you're going to be right.
It doesn't matter if you're talking about a psychic, a fortune teller, or your investment advisor. You can operate in obscurity for years, throwing out one prognostication after another.
"The body is buried in the backyard underneath the shed!"
"You'll be in an automobile accident!"
"The market is going to crash!!!"
You then just churn through clientele the way Kamala Harris churns through staffers as one prediction after another proves to be utterly and completely wrong.
Then one day, you're right.
And just like that, you're a genius!
Many forecasts will be reasonably close to an expected figure. There is no applause for forecasts near official figures when every other forecaster is reliably near those same figures.
What do poor forecasters do? They make extreme forecasts. Remember, the people prepared to make extreme forecasts are the only ones who can get an extreme forecast right! This is how they get a one hit wonder forecast correct against the consensus.
It sounds like a stroke of brilliance, but this person was a poor forecaster when measuring consistency. The same person finished in the bottom 25% of forecasters for the previous two periods. Because he took out the title with an outlandish move, no one cared about his prior results. The fascination turned to how he got it right when many others were wrong. He got to bask in the glory by telling his story. Essentially by using one observation he grabbed the gold medal.
Heck, you could have made a career over the past decade predicting Bitcoin crashes and you would have been right every time. And wrong.
There is obvious benefit to this. People forget your mistakes, highlight your one astonishing success, and you can ride that to the bank for years.
But where, exactly, is the personal gain in predicting the end of the world?
If you're wrong, you look foolish.
If you're right, you're dead.
So why do it?
- A desperate need for attention?
- The incapacity for shame?
- A fabulist view of the world?
I guess we'll never know.
Special thanks to subscribers @joker and @gwen42 for the tip on this article.
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