Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Landing Safely in Madrid

When we took a family vacation to Spain in '08 we had to fly on Friday the 13th and Lilly was convinced the plane was going to crash. Lilly is incredibly superstitious, has an over-active imagination, and is more than a little bit morbid. She went online and picked out her casket. It was a cute little thing with a teddy bear on it. She packed reluctantly pointing out that she would never get to wear those clothes anyway.

When she gets like this no amount of logic or reason can dissuade her from her morbid thoughts. Maybe having cancer at the age of four makes you this way. Maybe she would be this way anyway. I don't really know. When she was 7 she was obsessed with "What happens when we're all dead and the world ends?" This bothered her so much I finally made her go talk to our minister. I don't know what that wonderful Pastor Kristen said but after an hour in her office Lilly stopped worrying about the end of the world.

Until lately because now the news and internet are full of this "End of the world in 2012" crap that's been floating around lately. I tried reason, pointing out that the end of the world has been predicted many many times and it has not happened yet. Then that damn movie came out. "Why did they make a movie about it if it isn't going to happen?" she wanted to know. I pointed out that most things in movies don't really happen like old men floating in houses held up by helium balloons going to South America. She was not reassured.

It probably does not help that sometimes, having worn down all my logic and reassurance I tend to go to the sarcasm. Like last night when she brought it up again and I said, "Hey do we have an actual date on the end of the world?" Yes, Atticus informed me, it is December 21, 2012. "Awesome! I don't have to buy any Christmas presents. I could tell you I bought you a pony but I won't actually have to deliver."

Lilly countered, "You don't care if the world ends in three years because you're old! But I just got here." I had to explain I was kidding because I'm not worried about it. I tried to enlist some help, turning to Atticus who is well-versed in this kind of thing due to the hours he logs watching The History Channel. "Tell your sister. The Mayans did not predict the future." "Well," he said, "They did accurately predict World War II" This sent Lilly screaming from the room to go say goodbye to her rabbit.

Luckily, I am very happy to report that thanks to my beloved New York Times, this morning we put an end to all the nonsense because today they published an essay entitled, "Is Doomsday Coming?: Perhaps But Not in 2012" In it, the author assures us that according to NASA and other reliable sources, there is no evidence that the Mayan prediction will come true. I made Lilly read the whole article as she ate her eggs. She kept quoting the happy news, "Hey, NASA says so!" and "This scientist says 'Most of what’s claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy and a level of paranoia worthy of ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ " after she tripped over the word pseudoscientific she chuckled out loud.

She asked if she could cut the article out and take it to school. "I'm going to show it to all those crazy kids who are scared," she said, conveniently ignoring the fact that until ten minutes ago she was one of those crazy kids.

And so I sent her off to school, relieved for the first time in months that the world will not end any time soon and I felt good too knowing that Pastor Kristen and the New York Times have got my back.


  1. Wasn't there some major miscalculation involved as well with that Mayan thing? I seem to remember having read that it would only take place in the next century when you compensated for that miscalculation.
    Atticus is like me. He can't prevent himself from speaking out what he knows, however inconvenient that truth may be, hahaha. Maybe we have a next Al Gore here.

  2. "You don't care if the world ends in three years because you're old!" ~My new, all-time favorite "kid quote!"
    Lilly can be forgiven her fears, because of her age, but do you realize how many idiots are actually into this? Yes, EVERY time it's predicted, and still doesn't happen, the same people fall for the next prediction.
    My esteem has just risen again for both Pastor Kristen AND the New York Times!

  3. @kiariocico5: these are people who think that science is just coming up with any hypothesis and then maintain that without testing it or if it is tested ignore the results when they contradict the hypothsis

  4. @Laurent: that is a kind way of saying "these are people who are koo-koo"

  5. @Judy: not necessarily. They are just stupid, while some very intelligent people are koo-koo. People who are koo-koo can be very right in many respects while at the same time being koo-koo.

  6. At this point, you are both over my head.

  7. Judy, this is great. It parallels my own kids' comments, except mine don't take a strong stand and express fear, they just say "you have to admit, it is quite INteresting and weird!" We got into what makes people inclined to believe such things, including all kinds of prophecy, and talked about how being insecure or generally anxious about the future makes people more inclined to latch on to predictions of a (somewhat) less vague form of anxiety. Some people have a really hard time dealing with the unknown. I admire scientists and the scientific approach not because they "know" so much but because they are more comfortable with the fact that we don't know as much as we'd like--but seek a believable, verifiable way of whittling away at that vast area of the unknown.