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Alleged Prophet Nostradamus Continues to be Popular

The alleged prophet Nostradamus is more popular than ever in these troubled times. Books about him and his prophecies are high on the best seller lists even today. His predictions are fraudulent not because they contradict Scripture, but by pure logical reasoning.

The British daily paper the Guardian recently exposed the prophet's devious methods. The reader can read into Nostradamus' vague words whatever he or she wants:

Circumlocution and evasion of directness play a large part. He usually waffled in his astrological datings, since conjunctions are repeated. He invoked obscure Latin words to create possibilities of double meanings; he omitted prepositions, articles, reflexives, and connectives, and favored the infinitive as a timeless, personless form that can be read many ways.

Nostradamus has the virtue of vagueness combined with apocalyptic fervor. That’s not unusual. Many sayers of sooth, from Merlin and Geoffrey of Monmouth onwards, have done the same. This vagueness lends itself to what we now know as confirmation bias. In desperate times, soothsayers have a ready audience for their insane nonsense. It’s the meeting point of cynicism and gullibility.

When life seems chaotic and the future uncertain, people look for patterns, narratives and meaning. At moments of great change or social anxiety we do tend to go looking for explanations. We want the past and the future to make narrative sense.

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