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 In a year holding a three, or seven,
 or five, or nine, or maybe not,
 Two things, might be people, or armies,
 or buildings,
 Or anything really, blades of grass,
 or stoats, or crapulous charlatans
 spouting mimsy,
 Might do something nebulous.
 Insert made-up-bit here.
– Generic Nostradamus Quatrain from The Guardian

Like so many of us, I first heard about the great Michele de Nostredame when I was young: I saw a TV piece on him when watching Ripley's Believe It Or Not!. The piece said all of the usual amazing things about Nostradamus: he predicted Hitler, he predicted Louis Pasteur, he predicted Napoleon, he predicted the arrival of World War III in July of 1999. For a very brief time, both my Mom and I were fascinated by Nostradamus, and I started looking for books on him at the Library. And surprise, surprise – there was no shortage of them!

Except, I started to wonder something. Why did every single one of those books about Nostradamus translate his famous Centuries prophecies in a different manner? Except for a few bits about the infamous 1999 "quatrain," the Nostradamus scholars couldn't seem to agree about anything he had written. All of their interpretations of his writings contrasted, except for the bold proclamation that he had predicted every major and minor bit of history to ever occur on the face of the Earth. I couldn't help but wonder: If this guy was so great, then surely his fans and scholars could agree on something and declare one accurate Nostradamus prediction before it actually happened!

So, I'm sorry to say, I became a questioner and a skeptic years before the arrival of the dreaded time: July 1999. And guess what, surprise surprise – nothing happened!

But still the followers of Nostradamus plod on, boldly claiming that he predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Pacific tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the rise of gas prices, the price of tea in China…

For a recommendation on the best book to read about Nostradamus, you can't do better than James Randi's The Mask of Nostradamus. Available at fine bookstores everywhere!