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Chicago Skeptics were Right—World Didn’t End

By Chloe Riley | December 24, 2012 10:07am
 Skeptic society typically meets once a month to discuss science, logic and politics.
Skeptic society typically meets once a month to discuss science, logic and politics.
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DNAinfo/Chloe Riley

WEST LOOP—The world didn’t end Friday and the Chicago Skeptics society had a hunch.

At a post 2012 apocalypse party Saturday, members of the Skeptics — a group of Chicagoans whose core values are science and logic — gathered at Union Park Lounge to revel in their rightness.

"Apocalypto" — Mel Gibson’s movie about ancient Mayans — played on TVs at the bar at 228 S. Racine while skeptics drank beer and debunked end-of-the-world theories, such as the Mayan prediction that Dec. 21 Earth would be kaput.

The End has been predicted many times through history and “so far, every single one of them has been wrong,” said Jeff Wagg, an assistant organizer for the Skeptics.

Wagg, 46, used to work for an educational foundation formed by James “The Amazing” Randi, a former magician and current “head skeptic dude of the universe,” according to Wagg.

He used to receive phone calls about the Mayan apocalypse on an almost daily basis.

“People would watch daytime TV and were generally afraid of what was going to happen and I would basically try to talk them down and give them resources,” Wagg said.

Sporting a Dr. Who T-shirt and chunky glasses, Jason Robertson, another Chicago Skeptics member, said he hadn’t encountered many believers in the week leading up to the predicted end of the world.  

“I work in an academic research library where there are relatively few nutters,” he said.

Robertson, a 36-year-old Hyde Park resident who crunches data for University of Chicago’s library, said people need access to information in order to be good skeptics.

“How are we supposed to have nice things as a society if people are not data-literate?” he said.

Members new and old gathered Saturday to celebrate the non-end of the world.

“It’s my first post apocalypse party ever,” said Cynthia Smith, an IT consultant who heard about the Skeptics through the events website Meetup.

“Not a one,” Smith said about any world-ending doubts she had. “We were making fun of it the whole time.”

The Chicago Skeptics typically meet up once a month. They can be found on Facebook and Meetup — and member Jeff Wagg said they are not skeptical about welcoming new members into the group.

“We have very different opinions on some things, but we all respect each other because we’re all curious people who want to learn more about the universe,” he said.