2012 Crazy End Of The World Books Review: Part 1

Now that we’re balls-deep into 2013, I figured this is the perfect time to talk about one of my favorite things to read last year.  I got into reading 2012 End-Of-The-Fucking-World Doomsday books.  I read more than I care to admit.  In fact, I even was planning to write a book about those books before 2012 showed up.  Well, I didn’t write it fast enough, and I didn’t think it was worth it to try to get it into an e-book format or anything.  So you get to read it as a blog!  I’ll be posting it bit by bit over the next few days, so stay tuned!

A lot of what I have written is before Dec. 21, 2012, so the point of view is as if the huge panic / end of the world is yet to come.  Just pretend you’re in the past, okay?  Jesus.

And I’ll begin here:

——————————-

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”  This quote by poet Alexander Pope is best illustrated when 2012 Doomsayers and Prophets jump into the world of applied and theoretical physics.  Magnets were, for a long time, a mystery.  Magnetic fields surround us, it’s true.  The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the energetic charged particles that the Sun constantly spews out.  Motors and engines and power lines create magnetic fields, and we live with them every day.  Some are buried underground without most of us even aware of their existance.  But the true believers spew out a steady stream of bullshit about magnets that, unfortunately, is entirely unaffected by our planet’s magnetic field.

Let’s be clear.  There is perhaps some evidence that we humans, like other animals, may have an ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field.  It’s not unreasonable to think that.  There were even some experiments done in the 1970’s that suggested that people got confused about the direction they were facing when a magnet was attached to their head.  I would also be confused if someone stuck a magnet to my head.  I would likely be confused if someone stuck something that was not a magnet to my head.  In fact, I’m just easily confused.  I watched ‘Glee’ once, and because of that, I spent a week facing the corner of the basement, barefoot and crouched down, rocking back and forth muttering to myself.

Magnets as Marionette Strings

Gregg Braden’s essay, Choice Point has a unique point of view when it comes to the workings of the Earth’s magnetic field.

…The magnetic fields affect our immune systems, our perceptions of space, time, and reality itself…

…the contours of the magnetic field on the Earth correlate with the tendency for people to be more or less willing to change or part with tradition… the Suez/Israel area are the places that have the greatest opportunities for change, while places of high magnetic intensity, like Central Russia, tend to change more slowly…

…we know intuitively that we are affected by planetary magnetic forces…  any law enforcement officer or health-care practitioner will attest to the intense, sometimes bizarre behavior that comes out during a full moon…

So, Earth’s magnetic field is basically a giant hand that reaches inside your head and body to fiddle with all of your inner workings?  The evidence for it may be compelling to him, but I’m less than convinced by intuition, and more convinced by research.

To begin with, it’s not mentioned that although the Earth’s magnetic field is very large, it is not very strong, locally.  In fact, a typical refrigerator magnet is about 150 times more powerful than the Earth’s magnetic field and an MRI is nearly 100,000 times more powerful.   If the Earth’s magnetic field had such a major role in our emotions, biochemistry, and perceptions of reality, then a trip to the fridge would be a trip to the fridge, and a session in an MRI would result in seeing the world through the eyes of Jerry Garcia.

His other point that the full Moon affects a person’s behavior, is confusing to me, simply because that has nothing to do with magnetism.  The Moon has a very weak magnetic field – even less than the Earth’s magnetic field.  It’s so weak that it’s of no significance here.  And even if the Moon had anything to do with magnetic fields, and if those magnetic fields affected us, why would it only be the full Moon that affects us?  We pass under the Moon once a day when the Earth rotates, full or not. The fullness of the moon is only the part of the moon that the sun is shining on.

I believe that Braden may be confusing the effects of gravity with the effects of magnetism.  The full Moon does affect the tides.  A tide under a full Moon or a new Moon (on the same side or opposite side of the Earth in relation to the Sun) is stronger than when the moon is not lined up with the Sun and the Earth.  That is not the magnetic field at work.  That is gravity.  Gravity is different than magnetism.  Braden loses all credibility to speak intelligently about a subject when he can’t distinguish the two.

And since I’m in the mood to beat dead horses, I’ll point out that there actually isn’t any statistically significant change in human behavior when the moon is full compared to when it is not full.  There are no extra crimes or shootings because the moon is full.  Those of us who live around electric light (and I’m guessing the overwhelming majority of those reading this have access to electric light) do not have to adjust our behavior because of the moon.  It’s always bright and shiny whenever we want.

2012 – or… whenever

…the timings of magnetic pole shifts are uncertain at best…

…these magnetic reversals are supposedly preceded by a rapid weakening of Earth’s magnetic field and changes in the weather…

So where is Gregg Braden going with his discussion about the Earth’s magnetic field and magnetic pole shifts?  You’d be forgiven if you thought he was going to claim the poles would shift in 2012.  Especially since his essay was in a compilation of essays about 2012.  It’s true that the magnetic poles have shifted in the past.  It is also true that the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening.  It has been weakening since 1845, when Carl Friedrich Gauss began the first measurements of it.  In fact, it’s weakened 10 percent since then.

There are many forces which act upon the Geodynamo within the core of the Earth.  The core is a solid sphere of iron spinning in a thick layer of molten iron.  The magnetohydrodynamics of this system is complex and not well understood.  We have figured out that the Earth’s magnetic field flips an average of once every 200,000 years.  A computer simulation modeled at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the Los Alamos National Laboratory attempted to replicate a magnetic pole reversal.  The model simulated 300,000 years of the variations in Earth’s magnetic fields.  Though there were many times where it seemed one was possible or likely to happen, other variables forced the magnetic field to stay aligned the way it was.  Once in a while, after many attempts, it did flip, seemingly at random.  And the flip took place over the course of about a thousand years.  2012 seems out of the question if it’s going to take that long.

Let’s Just Make Shit Up

…wooly mammoths, believed to have been caught in a polar reversal during the last ice age, have been found frozen in midstride, with their last meal still in their mouths – proof that the abrupt climate change accompanying such a shift can happen really fast!

…what we do know is that such monumental events don’t just happen by themselves on Earth.  They appear to be linked to events happening to our celestial neighbors, and possibly even the entire galaxy.

Wait a minute.  When did we start talking about climate change?  I re-read the essay he wrote, and nowhere did he mention that climate change would accompany a magnetic pole shift.  It would have helped if any of his claims had any kind of citation at all.  He’s insistent that it will happen quickly and soon, though he also admits that we don’t actually know what the magnetic field looks like before a reversal.

And why can’t a magnetic pole shift just happen by itself?  It’s a constantly changing, rotating, complex system under our feet.  Is it really linked with our celestial neighbors?  What’s happening to them that would be linked to the Earth and the magnetic poles?  And again, where are the citations?  What in the world are you even talking about, Gregg Braden?

The truth is, we really don’t know exactly what’s happening, and science is okay with that.  When scientists admit to not knowing something, it forces them to investigate and find clues and answers.  When we are content to just make something up and believe whatever it is we make up, we are no longer motivated to find the real truth of what runs the world.

I feel I have to point out to Gregg Braden that his ass is not a legitimate source of scientific data.

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