Can’t Anyone Count Any More?
January 15, 2010 by Chip Wood
If you want a real exercise in futility I’ve got a suggestion for you: Try to convince someone that a brand-new decade didn’t begin on Jan. 1, 2010.
I’ve been having this battle every 10 years for about the past 50 years or so. It almost led to fisticuffs 10 years ago when I argued that Dec. 31, 1999 did not mark the end of the millennium. That would not come for another year.
Purists and pedantics know I’m right. If you question the logic of my statement let me ask you this: When did the first century A.D. begin? Surely not with year zero. There never was a year 0. No, the first decade of the first millennium began with year 1. Can we all agree on that?
But if the first year of the first decade began with year 1, doesn’t it follow that the first year of 21st century after that also began with 1… that is, on Jan. 1, 2001—not 2000. Keep counting, please, and you’ll realize that the 10th year of that decade just arrived—2010. Thus it follows that the first year of the next decade will begin 11½ months from now, on Jan. 1, 2011.
But it really doesn’t matter how loud or how long we debate this question. This is a classic example of perception out-ruling reality. The world believes that a new decade began 15 days ago. So for all practical purposes, it did.