Okay, people. Calm down. We’ve had a couple of snowstorms and a mudslide in the Philippines. It’s not the end of the world.
Although, that depends on whom you talk to. It seems that whenever a there is any kind of a cluster of natural disasters (and by cluster I mean two in the same decade), people come out of the woodwork to predict the end of the world.
I think it was Thomas Malthus who pointed out that people coming out of the woodwork was a sign that The Final Days are near. Or maybe that was Gene Shalit predicting that Wes Craven was making a sequel to The People Under the Stairs. When you start looking into the whole prophecy thing, it is very hard to keep all your wild-haired, crazy people straight.
My point is, there’s a reason why we call these things “natural disasters.” They just happen, randomly, in nature. Like “natural flavors” in Dr. Pepper or “natural hair color” on Joan Rivers. Nobody knows what causes them.
One of the most famous doom-and-gloom prophets of all time was Nostradamus. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that this guy has had a pretty good run. Ever since the mid-1500s people have been saying, “Yeah, I know. But maybe next week…”
Nostradamus perfected many of the principles of predicting the future that are still used today. You can find these principles, and many more, in the new book that I’m writing called, Prophesizing for Dummies. (Okay, so the title is a little redundant…)
Here are just a couple of the things you’ll want to do before you venture into the highly competitive world of soothsaying:
First, try to say “soothsaying” ten times real fast. The record is held by French pessimist Jacques De Barge (1769-1788) who once perfectly enunciated “soothsaying” twenty-three times in under eight seconds.
Unfortunately, Jacques also predicted to his friends he would have sex with the Queen the next time he got invited to a party at Versailles. This prediction led to him having his head chopped off — an event many of his followers claim he foretold as he was led to the guillotine.
While having a brain is not considered a prerequisite for predicting the end of the world (see also: Pat Robertson), in this era of television it is considered more important than ever for doomsayers to be at least somewhat photogenic.
When you’re finally ready to “get your sooth on” (as industry hipsters refer to it), you need to remember two cardinal rules: First, always talk in unintelligible metaphors. If you can learn to speak in haiku, that’s even better but this is a skill beyond most beginners.
Take it from the experts, there’s just no better way to be considered “relevant” and “current” than to talk in crazy metaphorical language. Take a look at this actual quote from Nostradamus:
“The large mastiff expelled from the city
Will be vexed by the strange alliance,
After having chased the stag to the fields
The wolf and the Bear will defy each other.”
If you read the passage from Nostradamus carefully, you might be tempted to conclude that it could mean just about anything you wanted it to or… nothing at all.
Which brings us to the second rule of successful future prediction… once you’ve said something unintelligible, let other people interpret it. This way when someone asks, “Was he talking about a snowstorm hitting the Northeast?” your followers — often referred to as people even wackier than you or, in some circles, Democrats for Dean — can say, “Of course he was. And he predicted it over six months ago!”
Follow these simple tips and in no time you’ll be on your way to a lucrative and well-respected career in predicting the flaming demise of humanity. Or maybe you’ll die in an FBI siege of your cult headquarters.
Either way the world will be a better place.