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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Forecasting and Prophecy

(notebook: this is more like a note for myself; it is not necessarily a logical exposition)

I was looking at weather anomalies, such as March 2012, and wondering about the frequency of anomalies, how the criteria for evaluating anomalies change as frequency changes, and some other statistical stuff.

So then I was letting my mind wander, and I ended up at Edgar Cayce's, noticing that he did not usually assign definite dates to most of his prophecies or forecasts, but merely said they were in the future. He spoke of such things as the Atlantic coastline being altered, and I wondered if he meant by rising ocean levels. He said a number of such changes would occur within a generation, but failed to supply a definite time frame.

So then I thought of the difference between Edgar Cayce and Harold Camping, who assigned at least 2 definite dates for the end of the world in 2011: it is obvious that being exact as to the time axis is a bit foolhardy for a prophecy. Now why is that? What is there about a future statement that makes nonsense out of the exact date? What is the difference in the temporal logic of a future statement - or prophecy - and that of a present statement or a past statement?

A prophecy or correct forecast is a great leap of intuition: it comes into being majestically naked as Botticelli's Venus and it is too brilliant to look at. We rush to clothe Venus like Botticelli's North Wind, bringing draperies of our established knowledge to render her less overwhelming.
Dying gods of agriculture - corn gods, cereal goddesses - uncovered the secrets of their cultivation and preparation in dreams and visions of intuition to our ancestors. Innovation over the lifetime of humanity is a mixture of science, experiment, and the visionary.
Visions can remain sacred, or they may become mundane: ancient peoples may have sacrificed a human surrogate for the corn god as well as carrying out their daily drudgery of grinding corn where ritual has become routine.

Prophecy must remain unmixed with reality until everything comes to fruition; otherwise, we see Harold Camping taking potshots with a scattergun at the end of times. In other words, there is no science of future statements until they instantiate into present statements. Then in memory, we may torture them with our logic and make good science of them.
However!.... and this is a big "however"... in the time between the prophecy's utterance and its fulfillment, things may have changed so substantially that those old forecasts are rather without value, except for those antiquarians who need them to support their belief systems.

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