Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storms, earthquakes, and coincidences

Here I sit, having battened down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Sandy (due to arrive in the wee hours tonight), and two things are on my mind.

First, why don't you ever hear the verb "to batten" used for anything other than "hatches?"  No one battens down windows, doors, throw rugs, or anything else.  You never hear of anyone leashing their dog to a post, for example, and then saying, "I have battened down Rex."  It seems like a useful word, and it's a pity it has such a restricted usage.  So I think all of you should make a point, during the next few days, of using the verb "to batten" in unorthodox ways.

Second, I've already begun facepalming over the eruption of woo-woo conspiracy theories claiming that Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Son-Tinh (which just slammed into the Philippines and Vietnam this weekend), and the 7.7 magnitude Canadian earthquake that caused tsunami warnings to be issued in Hawaii (there were high waves, but no serious damage) are all due to President Obama using HAARP to monkey around with things.  Or possibly chemtrails.  Or both.  They don't seem to have any clear idea of how any of this actually could be manmade, but that still hasn't stopped them from claiming that it is, that President Obama is sitting in his underground bunker, an insane smile on his face, and pressing buttons and pulling levers, and saying, "Now they'll be sorry!  I've caused a massive hurricane that will hit Washington, DC, causing widespread flooding and destruction!  Despite the fact that I live there!  That's how evil I am!  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

You think I'm joking.  Already websites like the rather ironically-named "Aircrap" are buzzing with statements such as, "You can't be expecting me to believe that all three of those events, occurring so close together, is just a coincidence?"

Actually, yes, that is exactly what I'm expecting you to believe.  When events coincide, this is called "a coincidence."  Given that the Earth experiences storms and earthquakes virtually on a daily basis, there will be times when several of these events happen in close succession because of no other factor than random chance.  We don't have to posit such absurdities as President Obama activating tractor beams from space via HAARP, or jets out of Newark spraying aerosols via their contrails to lay down a pathway for the storm, to account for this.  Both of which were, in all apparent seriousness, claimed by people on these sites.  And all of which shows that people who don't understand (1) the laws of statistics, (2) atmospheric science, and (3) geology, and who also (4) have spent too much time watching bad disaster movies on the Syfy channel, should really just keep their mouths shut.

So, anyway, that's our dip in the deep end of the pool for today.  Me, I'm not worried about HAARP or chemtrails, but I am a little worried that we'll lose power for a while, because we're supposed to get some serious wind here.  So if I am incommunicado for a few days, that's why, and I offer my apologies in advance, and a promise to write again as soon as I can.  I'll sign off here with my hopes that if you are in the path of the storm, you and your loved ones are safe and sound, and your homes undamaged.  As for me, I'm off to school to batten down the students.

1 comment:

  1. Do you actually have hatches? You _could_ batten down the dog, if by that you meant to secure him to the floor under a tarpaulin with strips of wood (the battens) nailed down along the edges to keep the rain out. However, I suspect you're just relying on your house for that.