Zombie Cat Shambles for Science

Zombie Cat was born from a conversation about science and spirituality on the Menage A Tarot Podcast almost 2 years ago. The two things are by no means mutually exclusive. Humans need both to get the most out of our ride on this rock hurtling through space and time. In honor of Earth Day and the March for Science, Zombie Cat once again shambles out of the archives.


“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.” – Doctor Who in “Blink” episode, written by Steven Moffat.

There are two words that make me inwardly cringe when I read (or hear) them in a Tarot reading question: “Will” and “When”.

Predictions and time are knotty subjects in this work. Predictions are actually a scientific thing. A prediction is really nothing more then expert opinion about where trends are headed based on existing data and past results. For example, we can predict where in the sky Mars will be a year from now based on laws of gravity, planetary motion, existing observations and so on.  As I understand it, that is the kind of  “prediction” that a law of physics or a scientific principle has to be able to make in order for the principle to be considered valid within the scientific method.

So-called “scientists” and skeptics spend a great deal of time and energy bashing and demeaning “psychic predictions” when many of them are, at their heart, the same as the scientific kind of predictions.  The psychic reader is an objective observer, knows human nature, and can see trends that the person involved may not see. A Tarot reader can predict where things are going in a relationship just like a scientist can predict where Mars is headed over the next year. The only real difference is psychic predictions are based on non-linear logic and de facto  psychology instead of inear logic and hard data.

And that is just looking at it from a very superficial, everyday experience point of view. This is Isaac Newton kind of stuff. At this level, “psychic” prediction is like predicting that if an apple detaches from a tree, it will fall down and hit the ground. What if we were to go a little bit quantum about it?

Think Schrodinger’s Cat.

In theory, once the experiment is set up and started, the cat could come out of it alive – or not – or both if you are into zombies. Or neither one if the cat suddenly ceased to exist. Disappearing / Zombie Cat could, theoretically,  happen…it’s just extreme magnitudes of unlikely. (See the BBC Horizon Series’ program “Parallel Universes” hosted by Dr. Michio Kaku, based on his book “Parallel Worlds”)

When the moment of discovery is still in the future, the possibility and attendent probability exists for all outcomes. In the mysterious and undetermined future, all four conditions exist, even our extremely unlikely disappearing / undead pet. Can you predict which way THAT is headed using nothing but your brain and some pretty pictures on a card? If you “predict” the most likely of the potential outcomes (meaning the cat is still there and not  a zombie) is that psychic or science? If you predict Zombie Cat, is that quackery, or was the vision just dialed into a different wibbly-wobbly timeline out there in the multiverse?

The Zombie Cat may well exist out there. We don’t know, because multiverses, as the video says, is unproven. No-cat and Zombie Cat might be out there, but they just don’t make the jump from possible to probable to IS. At least not in our particular universe. All potentials exists until “the wave collapses” and the moment becomes NOW instead of future, and then slips instantly into the past. Now and Past are fully collapsed probability waves. They exist – ska-doosh! – done deal, nothing to predict. The future on the other hand, that’s a different animal still.

Now, just to make things really interesting, let’s introduce Zombie Cat to Alice the Vampire.

In the movie Twilight, the psychic vampire Alice could see the future, insofar as people have decided what they want to do. If someone changes their mind, or changes their action, then her vision changes. She can predict, but with uncertainty. Her predictions are predicated on the course people are on. Alice the vampire’s visions and Zombie Cat’s existence are a matter of probability, not “prediction”. And so it is with Tarot and psychic readings.

Let’s say our cat has human-like intelligence and a choice rather than being a victim of circumstance as in the classic thought experiment. What if there was some choice the cat could make or some action it could take that would keep the gunpowder from exploding or the poison vial from breaking? What if it could blow out the fuse or move the vial? Now how do you make predictions under that set of circumstances?

Imagine your psychic vision was of a dead cat (a 50% probable outcome in the original experiment)?  What if the cat heard you make that “psychic prediction” and blew out the fuse when it otherwise wouldn’t have?  Was the prediction wrong?

Let’s shift gears again to Zombie Cat, Alice Vampire and Tarot readings.

Will you get that job? I dunno. Did you apply for it? Update your resume? Scheduled an interview? Check the classifieds for other options? (What has the cat done to keep the powder from exploding) Has the person doing the hiring made any decisions or taken any actions? (collapsed the probability wave)

On the other hand, a reading can give you advice that maybe, just maybe, could help you to get that job: Be flexible (4 of swords), emphasize your skills and experience (The Emperor) or show you’d be a team player (3 of coins). A good, honest, Tarot reading is like the “psychic” yelling at the cat in the bunker to blow out the fuse so the cat can improve the chances that it won’t blow up.

When will you get married? I dunno. The future is just as  Wibbly-Wobbly as the Doctor told us. But Tarot can give you ideas about how to live an empowered life of love and happiness right here, right now, no matter what the future holds.

Next time: The Ghost of Zombie Cat


Videos by Minute Physics, via youtube.com, used under stated creative commons licensing.  Please watch! I highly recommend them!

For more on this topic, please check out the Menage A Tarot podcast episode “Test Tubes and Tarot Decks” available on iTunes and at www.menageatarot.com

other images from the public domain

To get your own “Zombie Cat” yes-or-no Tarot reading, click HERE