Because the only thing more terrifying than velociraptors are velociraptors that can fly.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Mayans and the Apocalypse

Just to get this out of the way: THE MAYANS DID NOT PREDICT THE WORLD WOULD END ON DEC. 21, 2012.

Sorry for the all caps, but I've been seeing this misinformation a lot lately and felt like I really had to say something about it. The 13th baktun (a unit of the Mayan calendar) does end on December 21st, 2012, but then the 14th baktun starts. How the notion that the Mayans predicted that day would be the end of the world, I don't know.

They did have a predictive calender, one that talks about events that are "supposed" to happen a hundred thousand years from now. So even if we say that Mayan predictions are (for some reason) accurate, we still have a few millenia at least.

Let's say, though, that the Mayans did predict the world was going to end in ten days. Who cares? Why is this something people are worried about? Because people are worried about it. NASA had an hour-long thing the other day to answer any questions people might have about end of the world scenarios, and recently members of Russian parliament wrote to their country's three biggest television networks asking them to stop airing things about the 2012 apocalypse because people were getting so nervous.


People have been predicting the end of the world almost as long as we've been people. Comets have come and gone. Y2K, not a thing. The Rapture didn't happen. The world's still spinning people. A part of me just doesn't get why people are saying, "OK, I know that every other time the end of the world has been predicted, it didn't happen, but I have a good/bad feeling about this one."

Then again, I feel like some people get this end of the world mindset because articles, TV shows, etc. keep talking about it, especially when their titles are something like, "What did the Mayans know about the End of the World?" The answer is, of course, nothing, but someone who only sees the title of the article or watches the first few minutes of the show doesn't get that. All they take away is that people are concerned about this, and so they should be too.

It's one of those weird things about human psychology. Sometimes, if a bunch of people are concerned about something, you should be too. If you were parked in traffic on the highway, and then suddenly a wave of people came towards you from the cars ahead, running as fast as they could, you'd probably get out of your car and start running too. You'd go along with what everybody else is doing because they probably know something you don't.

In this case, though, don't worry. There are no planets or asteroids getting ready to hit the Earth (if there were, they'd be the brightest objects in the sky behind the sun and moon). Solar storms are actually predicted to be relatively calm for a while. The Earth's magnetic pole, while due for a shift, isn't going to flip overnight. 

In short, I'll see you all on December 22nd.

No comments:

Post a Comment