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.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Watching the clock

I've posted before about the phenomenon of dart-thrower's bias; the tendency of humans to notice outliers, and therefore give them more weight in our attention (and memory) than the ordinary background noise with which we are constantly bombarded.  And once we notice a particular outlier, we're more likely to notice it next time -- further reinforcing the effect.

I had an experience of this a while back.  On two consecutive work days, I noticed, when I glanced at the clock after finishing breakfast, that it was 6:43.  On the face of it, this isn't that odd, since my alarm is always set for the same time, and I do more-or-less the same sequence of actions to get ready for work, in more-or-less the same order, every day.  But I did notice it.  And subsequently, every time I glance at the clock after breakfast and it is 6:43, it registers.  I'm less likely to pay any kind of serious attention if it's 6:46 or 6:39, because I've already primed my brain to be more aware of one particular time.

But if you think this exemplifies dart-thrower's bias, you ain't heard nothin' yet.  There's a guy named Jordan Pearce who posted yesterday over at who has had a similar experience, and doesn't chalk it up to a perceptual bias in the human brain...

... he thinks it's evidence we're going to have a "planetary shift of consciousness."

For him, the time was 11:11.  Despite my feeling that 11:11 is simply the most convenient way to get from 11:10 to 11:12, Pearce thinks that this time is deeply meaningful.  Here's what he has to say:
I’ll bet that if I asked publicly how many people saw 11:11 regularly, we’d probably see a huge sea of hands popping up all over the place.  Its [sic] pretty common nowadays, there’s something to it, and its about time we decoded it. 
In case you answered that you’ve never seen 11:11, I would remind you that you’re reading a blog about it right now.  Welcome to the beginning of your 11:11 synchronistic voyage.

There was a time only a few years ago when I hadn’t heard a thing about 11:11.  It was brand new to me, until it wasn’t anymore.  Interestingly enough, my 1111 synchronicities started right around the time when I began learning about a planetary shift of consciousness… The Shift.
Okey-dokey.  So if you notice 11:11, you're heading toward enlightenment, or something.

Then he throws in a lengthy quote from Uri Geller, who I really wish would go away.  You'd think Geller's popularity would have waned after his conspicuous inability to telekinetically bend spoons on The Tonight Show decades ago, but no, he's still around, and still making grandiose statements about psychic stuff and global consciousness and spiritual ascension.

So Geller doesn't really add anything to Pearce's credibility.  But Pearce goes on, undaunted, and tells us that it all... means something:
11:11 is a wakeup call of sorts, an initiation into the “aha” of realization that something big was going on.  Something that connected everyone.  In truth, the numbers are only a representation of what’s really going on.  A symbol for the connection taking place all over the world. The numbers aren’t significant, but their meaning.
Well, it would certainly be a wake-up call for me, because if I rolled over in bed and saw the time was 11:11, it would mean that I'd overslept by six hours.  But that's not what he's driving at, of course.  And what sort of meaning does he ascribe to all of this?
When you observe 11:11, you notice some interesting things.  The first thing that I see is that it is a balanced equation.
Actually, it's not an equation at all, given that an equation needs an equals sign somewhere.  But do carry on.
Not only is it two elevens, but two elevens with a : in between.  Two sides of a balanced equation, that equal out at zero.  They have a stable equilibrium were they a mathematical equation.
Yes!  Two elevens with a pair of dots!  And that equals zero!  Except when it equals four:
They also come down to 4.  I feel it like a 4 elements equation, a perfect balancing of a yin and yang energy.  If you know anything about Tarot, you might think of the 4 leaders. Prince, Princess, Queen, and King/Knight.
I thought that the Tarot cards had a King, Queen, Knight, and Page, but what do I know?  I mean, he's basically making shit up as he goes on, so may as well make this up too, right?  But it gets even better:
Now, the magic about 11:11 is not just that it’s happening to you, but it’s happening everywhere.  11:11 is a global event, it is something that people all over the world, including you right now (because you’re reading this) is experiencing.
Well, I agree that 11:11 is a global event.  In fact, it happens twice a day, no matter what time zone you're in.  That's got to be significant somehow, don't you think?

And he ends with a bang:
You are not alone.  We are all growing and learning different things, and in truth we’re really all learning the [sic] same thing.  How to love.  What is love, what does love look like, and what it means to embody Christ.
So 11:11 = 0 = 4 = synchronicity, and therefore Christ?

I mean, this is taking dart-thrower's bias and raising it to the level of performance art.

So anyhow, there you are.  I just glanced at the clock, and it's 5:36, which as times go, is all higgledy-piggledy and unbalanced, and probably points to the fact that I am feeling particularly unenlightened at the moment because I haven't had any coffee yet.  Maybe I'll feel better at 5:55, although by then I'll probably be in the shower.

Maybe I'll see what happens at 6:43.  That's bound to be interesting, right?

Of course right.


  1. It's because you're unenlightened, Gordon. If you were in tune with the cosmic consciousness, you would only look at the clock at significant times. Jeez!

  2. The author Anthony Peake has been going on about 11.11 for some time. This is an example: