Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Aspect of the Social Catastrophe: People Are Dumb

I'll try to keep this one short. I could do a whole sweeping post about the clearly false things that people post as if they were real, urban legends, and all of that. The best are those times in the past that people have passed them around to everyone at work with a huge broadcast e-mail out to everyone. That is entertainment!

I'm totally a dick and very judgmental when it comes to people posting or e-mailing these kinds of false, forwarded to a million people kinds of alerts or pleas. Each time I feel the need to point someone to http://www.snopes.com/ , my evaluation of that person's mental capacity takes a deep hit. Needing Snopes dropped on you is one of the biggest reputation killers on my scale (after, like, you know, killing people and stuff).  The impulse that goes from emotion ("I'm pissed!" "That's touching!" "Oh, neat!" "This needs to stop!" "That's scary!") straight to reposting/forwarding without a brain at any point stepping in to do even the most basic fact checking... is a real part of the Social Catastrophe.

So, which one set me off today? We'll see if you can work out just what might be false about this one. It is a real head-scratcher!

Reposted by Friend July 23, 2013. Originally posted on July 15, 2013
"Ok...never believe this stuff but......i posted this on the 12th...today is the 15th when I came home today..in the mail was a refund check for $374.00 from my old electric company I used over 8 yrs ago....CREEPY BUT TOTALLY COOL!!! And yes...I did say COOL!! Lol!!"

I love that this person seems to be embarrassed that they said the word "COOL". What I also love about this one is that nearly every sentence in it is false. It really packs it in! Let's break it down line by line, because this deserves the most in depth analysis possible.


Fuck you.

"This year December has 5 Mondays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays."

Really? Is that true? How could I ever be sure? Oh wait... everyone is reading this on a device that has a calendar built in. Hmm... let's see:

A picture in which Saturday has clearly become Tuesday!

If I had to guess, I'd say this silly thing must have started last year, in 2012 when the "5 Mondays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays" in December was actually true. The other possibility is that the originator of this message is a malevolent force spreading lies, thriving and relishing in the vast stupidity it has unleashed upon the world. I'll just have to mull that over as we proceed.

"This Happens once every 823 years."

Hmm, now that this message has proven itself to be unreliable... I don't know if I can blindly trust this one... This message wouldn't lie to me again, would it? I have a calender I use to schedule things on my computer, so I said to myself, "Just how rare is this? No way is it a once in an 823 year event! I'm going to guess it happens... 1/7th of the time, possibly screwed up a bit by leap years or something" (Witness the elite mathematics and Sherlock Holmes-like cunning I bring to bear upon the problem!) So, I decided to take a 100 year span, from 2000 to 2100, and see just how often this occurs. Here is what we get:

2001, 2007, 2012, 2018, 2029, 2035, 2040, 2046, 2057, 2063, 2068, 2074, 2085, 2091, 2096

15 times in 100 years is quite a bit more often than 1 time in 823 years... if I have my math right! Just a minute while I divide 15 by 100, and 1 by 823 so I know which is larger!

1/823 = 0.0012
15/100 = 0.15
Oh, and...
1/7 = 0.1429

Yes, Decembers with 5 Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays happen slightly more that 1/7th of the time in this sample. From this time span, it seems that these magical Decembers are over 123 times more common than this message states. Wow!

"This is called money bags."

Come on, now. You're not even trying!

"So share it and money will arrive within 4 days."

I'm going to need to see the peer reviewed study on this! Surely you have some evidence?

"Based on Chinese Feng Shui."

Oh! Well, then... Can I just stop and say that Chinese Feng Shui is my favorite Feng Shui? To get back to business though... let's see, this Money Bags magical December concept is based on Feng Shui, eh? The one that is about arranging your house and furniture correctly so that the winds of chi flow properly? Of course, I'm just a silly westerner. Turns out that Wikipedia tells me Feng Shui is about a little more than arranging furniture (but not much). I'm not seeing anything about auspicious Decembers, and the ancient Chinese tradition of chain letters, e-mail forwardings, and social media reposting, but I'm an amateur. It looks like there may even be evidence that Feng Shui has existed in some form for at least 3500 years, perhaps even as early as 4000 B.C.! But wait a minute!

Gregorian Calendar: The calendaring system we use now. It is a solar calendar which was created as an alteration to the Julian Calendar in 1582 A.D.
Chinese Calendar: A lunisolar calendaring system that has seen its fair share of alterations since it was 1st known to appear somewhere around 1300 B.C.

It is not looking like those are going to line up so well. Maybe the mysterious masters of Feng Shui have been using the Gregorian Calendar or an exact equivalent since the time of fucking Ramesses the Great who was out kicking ass and building shit in Ancient Egypt at the time.

Color me skeptical.

"The one who does not share, will be without money."

Is that what they say in the Feng Shui? Excuse me, I have unanswered questions here!

"Share within 11 minutes of reading."

If I want to look like a big dummy!

"Can't hurt so I did it."

The biggest lie of all. It did hurt. It hurts bad. You never should have posted this where others would see. You even used to have a reputation for being good at math in High School. Now we all know.

Fuck, dude.

(Update: I chatted with him later and he realized the error of this all unprompted by me. He's also consistently been on the right side of some later Social Catastrophes. Rock on! Also, yay!)


* Promised fun not actually included.


  1. Hah! That post just showed up in my newsfeed and google brought me here. I hope you don't mind if I boost your post, but I have some "friends" that need to read this.

  2. You are the first evidence I have that anyone other than my friends (the real kind) have read this, so boost away! The Social Catastrophe is kinda the same thing over and over, but it has its moments.