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Wall Street and the Mayan Apocalypse: Exercising Patterns in Randomness


for Members

Wall Street and the Mayan Apocalypse: Exercising Patterns in Randomness

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Presented By

Presented by the History and Philosophy Section of the New York Academy of Sciences


Proposals that ancient Mayans somehow predicted an Apocalypse (or something dramatic) on December 21, 2012 rely heavily on their reputed astronomical insight. They also rely on unlikely coincidences—patterns that seem too compelling to be accidental.

This presentation considers how these factors contribute to the difficulty of interpreting the science of another culture. Here we find an unlikely ally in Donald MacKenzie's work on the modeling of modern financial markets to reinterpret both the fantasies of 2012 prophecies and an astronomical development recovered from the hieroglyphic inscriptions of Palenque. Exploring these applied social sciences through MacKenzie's metaphor of 'engines, not cameras,'—that they drive behavior as opposed to generating accurate representations—the result is intended to shed light on both sides of the cultural comparison.


Gerardo V. Aldana

University of California Santa Barbara

Registration Pricing

This meeting is free, but registration is required.

Travel & Lodging

Venue Location

Gallatin School of Individualized Study, NYU

Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts
1 Washington Place
New York, NY 10003

Directions to the venue.