Stop saying 2021 will be better than 2020. It just shows how superstitious you are and your lack of understanding of science and nature. Everyone partied like there’s no tomorrow on 31 December, but here we are, two days into 2021, and a mutant strain of the coronavirus has travelled on trains across India.
New year’s eve is all about leaving behind bad and useless habits. Maybe it’s time for us to get real and leave behind wilful ignorance.
The year 2020 proved that astrologers and horoscopes can’t predict reality. Charting stars, reading palms, looking at numbers, or just believing that 2021 will be magically great were useless. And that is because a virus is unpredictable, it doesn’t read WhatsApp forwards, and no amount of calling out to the universe is going to help.
Like Dr Faheem Younus said, “COVID can’t read a calendar. Nothing magical will happen on Jan 1st 2021. Vaccines/masks/avoiding crowds will slow it down and ultimately end. Our actions will end the pandemic, not time.”
No one to predict pandemics
This last year saw some truly bizarre claims about the pandemic. And before delving into it, let me just reiterate: None of them were correct.
Renowned astrology researcher Mahesh Bang made a series of bizarre and unscientific predictions on the Covid-19 pandemic. This included predicting the peak of the virus based on charting the movement of planets and stars.
He also, very conveniently, predicted that on 21 November, everything will go back to normal. Well, we all know that did not happen. Like it didn’t on 31 December.
Then, he added, “We must acknowledge that the global horoscope is overpowering each country’s horoscope for a few months. Due to the rare configuration that occurred in December last year, we need to understand that it will take time.” Right.
It was not only Bang, such predictions were plastered across social media, news channels and news websites. And even after banging thalis and giving taalis, the coronavirus was still there.
Another astrologer, Ashaben, reportedly did predict a deadly virus in 2019 but also said that it will get better by April 2020. How right she was. But I guess, she can be redeemed now that she has also predicted that there will be grave fallout of the pandemic — a bad economy. What an insightful prediction. No one saw that coming.
And now, famous astrologer Susan Miller has this to say about 2021 — “We will emerge stronger, having gone through this.” Groundbreaking.
I guess we are none the wiser.
Predictions are dangerous
You can’t predict life. And neither can you wish it away at the stroke of midnight. Superstitions didn’t help in 2020, they won’t help in 2021.
According to a report in The New York Times, the market of astrologers actually went up during the pandemic. Such was the uncertainty of 2020. Even though science, in the most rudimentary terms possible, calls astrology absolute rubbish, people still turned to it to find solutions for a transmissible virus.
NYT calls it the ‘confirmation bias’. “Most psychologists agree that astrology’s appeal relies largely on “confirmation bias” — the human tendency to seek out, recall and favour information that confirms what we already believe.”
But like everything, the pandemic changed the rules of this game also. It was harmless till it was about finding your soulmate, but spreading misinformation and giving false hope in a rather hopeless time has real-life consequences. And many, many things have been cancelled for far less.
‘Go, corona, go’
A large part of India’s Covid-19 fight was also against myths and superstitions. And, to an extent, it is understandable that it happened in 2020. There was little information about a virus that was forcing us to stay indoors and had basically overhauled our lives. So, Indian uncles and aunties can perhaps be forgiven for shoving a barrage of WhatsApp forwards down everyone’s throats that almost always gave fake information on Covid.
But it is 2021 now and we understand the virus far better.
Even if we break a coconut in front of the Serum Institute, or pray before stepping out of our homes, or chant ‘go, corona, go’ at dusk in unison, it won’t change the fact that the pandemic is still here. And vaccinations will take place at the pace of science, not superstitions.
A vaccine is coming and while life may not go back to the ‘normal’ we knew, it is far more normal than it was in March 2020. There’s hope and then there are illogical antics. Most Indians veer towards the latter. It’s time we bring about behavioural changes — washing hands and wearing masks in crowded places even after the pandemic — than rely on aligning of the planets and stars.
If we aren’t taking away that lesson from the Covid era, then there is a problem. Then, we are not preparing for the reality of more pandemics.
Views are personal.
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