Monday, June 22, 2009

In which, to my great surprise, the media gets 2012 so very, very wrong

Yahoo! Movies has a cute little ball of fluff about the upcoming movie '2012,' which appears to be a work of complete fiction based on no facts of any kind whatsoever about the movie 2012. They run through all of the most popular bales of balogna circulating among the True Believers these days. Rather than bore you with further introduction, here is what Yahoo! says might happen to us all in a couple of years.

They start off with a zinger:
['2012' director] Emmerich taps into the angst of thousands of astrologers,
doomsday enthusiasts, and conspiracy theorists who fear that a massive cataclysm
will strike the earth on December 21 of that year. Yet unlike previous dates
tied to the Earth's expiration, this one has its roots in various sources
throughout history including interpretations of the Mayan calendar, astrology,
and the ancient Chinese fortune-telling text the "I-Ching."

Yeah, right guys. Of course no previous apocalypse predictions had ties to 'various sources throughout history'- everyone else was just guessing! But not us, we've got... the I Ching! Pathetic. Everyone treats their own pet delusions as special. Just because our current most popular modern-day apocalypse fantasy is propped up by extreme vagueries or complete falsehoods (see below) doesn't mean they're worth anything. It especially does not mean that our doomsday prophecies are any better than those of yesteryear.

But continue, Yahoo:
2012 gained the patina of doom with the best-selling 1966 book "The Maya" by
Harvard archeologist Michael D. Coe. He noted that the Mayan culture's famously
complex "Long Count" calendar simply ends on 12/21/12, speculating that
civilization might come crashing down on that date. Other scholars argue,
however, that the Mayan calendar would merely flip over like an odometer that
reached 100,000 miles.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. How many times do I have to tell you people this? Repeat after me: THE MAYAN CALENDAR DOES NOT END IN 2012. The Mayan calendar does not end, EVER! This is a bit like saying that doomsday is coming this year because the Gregorian calendar "simply ends" on 12/31/09. That is to say, it is wrong. This is one of those points that I cannot belabor strongly enough because the point is so elementary and very nearly every 2012-obsessed crank on this planet gets it wrong. The amount of research required to figure out whether or not the Mayan calendar 'ends' in 2012 is so small that the only excuse in making this error with honest intentions of finding the truth is illiteracy. You would have to be unable to read wikipedia to get this wrong.

That or you are doing no research whatsoever, and are therefore unqualified to be taken seriously on this subject.

That or you are lying.

Meanwhile, on Yahoo:
Astrologers have also pointed out that...
Maybe we'll just skip ahead a bit.
And then there's counterculture thinker Terence McKenna, whose Timewave Zero
theory -- drawing off of elements from the "I-Ching," the teachings of
philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and modern fractal mathematics -- determined
that 12/21/12 is, you guessed it, the exact date of a profound change in world.
Roughly speaking, the Mayans, astrologers and McKenna are all predicting global
doom or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Ooooookay then. I mean, Terence McKenna said it, so it must be true. Never mind that the article doesn't even take a stab at what a "profound change" is (in my opinion, whipping around the sun at several miles a second for an entire year is a profound enough change). Never mind that they give us no reason to believe Terence McKenna's uneducated guess. Lets just talk about this "Timewave Zero" "theory."

It claims to measure how much ingenuity exists in the universe at any given time. McKenna thought he had a mathematical demonstration of how much creativity exists in the universe.

If you are wondering why this concept should not be taken seriously, perhaps you should read the wikipedia article a bit. I do not want to bore the rest of us explaining why trying to mathematically quantify a completely 100% subjective (lets just say, I'm assuming that McKenna counted his own works as 'novelty') phenomenon is not a good idea. Perhaps I could refer you to a chart measuring the amount of bullshit that exists in the universe at any given time, and you will see that it spikes each time McKenna publishes a book

Zipping right along:
So if the apocalypse is set just in time for holiday shopping season three years
from now, how exactly will the world end? One theory that actually has some
traction in the scientific community is that a solar flare will cause a sudden
shift in the magnetic orientation of the Earth's poles, causing all kinds of
planetary problems like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. NASA is predicting
strong solar activity around 2012 and there's evidence that the magnetic poles
are slowly weakening, something that reportedly presages a reversal. Of course,
most scientists think that this reversal will take centuries, not days, to

Well, it was nice of them to debunk this one for me. I should probably mention for legal purposes that I added the emphasis above. I might also want to drop a link explaining that a pole shift is not the end of the world, nor has it been the past several hundred times it has happened.

Sadly, the "Jonathan Crow" who wrote the Yahoo article I just finished tearing to shreds does not list his contact information. A pity. Suppose he'll just have to wait until 2013 to learn how silly this all is.

EDIT: Someone in the comments section noted that I was a little lackluster with the references this time around. They are correct. I often simply get tired of posting the same links and the same references to the same solid scholarship to make the same points every single time. I have gone through and added additional links where necessary, but I fear it will do little to assuage those who are so bad at research that they even need to be told by a guy like me that the Mayan calendar never ends.


Anonymous said...

For a guy that rants on-and-on about how New Age authors never footnote any of their claims or reference any of their facts, you do exactly the same. You seem to be basing your opinion entirely on some sort of conservative, materialist stance.

GoodNewsAtheism said...

You are correct, Handcraft. I do indeed get tired of dropping the same links in every single post I write in this blog. I have gone back and made appropriate inserts where I think that evidence needs to be provided (or at least, I am providing those links over the next few minutes after posting this comment).

Susan said...

Hi, thanks for trying to talk some sense into me before I wrote my own post about Nibiru. At first you inspired me to think straighter, but, then, well ...

Mine is called "Nibiru aka Planet X"