In a week, we’re told, the Mayan Long Count calendar is going to roll over to Day 1,872,000, and at that point the world will end.
That’s 21 December, presumably Eastern Standard Time. Apparently some people are buying survival shelters. Others are hoping to stand on mountain tops such as the Pic de Bugarach waiting to be uplifted by UFO’s. Exactly where these have come from is undefined. Remulak, possibly.
The instrument of the apocalypse, apparently, is a gigantic planet named Nburu which has been hiding behind the Sun and is going to dash out and smash us on the 21st. Apparently NASA knows about but has been conspiring to hide the knowledge from us. Or maybe the Apocapyptinator will be a giant solar flare. Or something. There has been panic buying of salt in Novokuznetsk. In Omutininsk they are buying kerosene.
I have two reasons. One is that there is no basis whatsoever for the fear, even if the Mayans themselves thought an apocalypse was coming, which they don’t. The Niburu idea has been around a while – it was meant to hit us in 2003 but didn’t, and afterwards the ‘apocalypse’ got pushed out to 2012. Of course. This week even the official Vatican astronomer, Father Jose Gabriel Funes, weighed in to debunk the whole idea from the science perspective. The other reason is that I’m not even going to dignify “2012 doom” by trying to engage the particular arguments. (The real science tells me an asteroid shot past Earth on Wednesday – and we didn’t die. I’ll post about that soon).
The more important thing for me is what this tells us about human nature. The notion of a sudden apocalypse seems to be part of the human psyche. Virtually every society has these fears, or have constructed some cycle-with-armageddon/ragnarok into its mythology. Our most epic tales revolve around it.
Today, in the west, we also seem to have an unending capacity to intellectualise our way into believing the apocalypse on the basis of what is meant to be ‘science’, though there is precious little science about most of the arguments.
Does anybody remember 1987? The year Nostradamus, apparently, said the world would end.
Except it didn’t. Or on 6 June 2006 (6/6/06). Or in 1666, actually. Of course there’s always next time…isn’t there…
Still, who am I to complain? So here’s the deal. Announcing the New Age Ultra-Defender Security From The Mayan Apocalypse package. All you have to do is give me all your assets, cash, a legally binding promise of all future earnings, and the stupid nick-nack that some relative gave you three Christmases ago. In return, I offer an appropriate payout if the apocalypse occurs, at my discretion. Large print: the ‘apocalypse’ is defined as the total destruction to dust and random gases of Earth and the total death of everybody on it, including me, at some point between 12.00 am and 11.59 pm, 21 December 2012 NZT, by a large foot descending on to the planet with a large raspberry noise.
Next time: things that actually could destroy us (but probably won’t).
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012