This Friday, December 21, is when the Mayan calendar appears to wrap up its most recent long-count cycle of 5,125 years. It’s also a day some believe will bring the end of the world. They predict a rogue planet will collide with Earth, or that other planets will align and cause a giant blackout. But NASA experts say there’s nothing on the horizon, and that the doomsday theory is a misreading of the Mayan calendar. Still others believe the world will undergo a spiritual, not physical, transformation. Why is the idea of an apocalypse so popular?

Andrew Fraknoi, chair of the astronomy program at Foothill College
Lorenzo DiTommaso, associate professor and chair of religion at Concordia University in Montreal and author of "The Architecture of Apocalypticism"
Marilyn Schlitz, ambassador for creative projects and global affairs and past president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a nonprofit which focuses on transformation through consciousness and healing, and co-author of "Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life"

  • Frank

    If there is going to be an apocalypse, it will come about because the empire of debt that the USA and Europe have built has reached its end. They have strangled the world with debt. The world economy has suffered enormously resulting in governments and individuals being increasingly unable to repay debts, especially those that were established through scams. This apocalypse is man-made, intentional, and is meant to achieve for the rich a kind of high-tech, world-wide feudalism, or what they would call at the Bohemian Club the “New World Order”.

    • “All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you
      find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.”

      — Wayne Dyer

      • Frank

        Nonsense. By that logic, we do not need courts, nor criminal laws of any kind, because these work on the premise that the guilty should be held accountable, and blaming them is integral to that process.

  • Seriously? I am greatly disappointed that you chose to give this any airtime at all. It deserves none.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Nonsense should be ignored and true science stressed. Rather sad that here in the states we have so many people bent on being led back to the dark ages!

  • chrisnfolsom

    I guess this needs to be addressed, but only because it has become a popular issue. I have “tolerated” all the mumbo jumbo “pseudo-science” and “learned” writings from the past from our revered books – all religions, but am increasingly becoming less tolerant as people are following them like fads and popular media is using them and sensationalizing them to get viewers on the television and eyeballs on the web. The Discovery channel has shows about ghosts, bigfoot and other anomalies as does The Learning Channel and they are carried as fact by the news outlets. The reality – what we know and understand – is not easy and comforting, but we know more – orders of magnitude more than ever before. The past does give us some great guidelines and many of the rules are based on real needs and good practices such as many of the Kosher food practices – many of which we can only articulate through science.

    • Why? The more coverage the more legitimacy we give this nonsense!

      • chrisnfolsom

        it need to be discussed – not a legitimate, but to find the roots of what makes it real and get rid of them. You always walk a fine line with all this as certain cultural/religious issues always get dragged into it – on the far right and the far left…

        • Frank

          Little known fact, there exist professional myth-makers. The guy who headed up the 9/11 Commission for Bush (Zelikow) wrote his college thesis on the topic of creating “public myths”. People will believe almost anything these days…. They’ll believe in ancient aliens, they’ll believe that Muslims bogeymen perpetrated 9/11, they’ll believe in a god even without a shred of evidence. The ideological guru of the Neoconservatives, named Leo Strauss, specifically stated that the public needs to inculcated with bogus myths so that the rich can rule properly.

  • Bob Lewis

    I would like to point out the terrifying effect these predictions have on young children. In 1956 I first heard of the end of the world, and I remember how scared I was to this day.

  • chrisnfolsom

    Please, how can we give the Mayan’s any more intelligence than we have today? There were not around very long, were dominated by a few priests – what would every make you think they thought much past their next barbaric sacrifice?

  • chrisco

    I haven’t heard the whole segment. But it is OK to cover this since it is a phenomenon. But it should be covered with skepticism and I want to say the adherents should not be mocked because that would not be nice. But they should be mocked. These are BARKING MAD beliefs with absolutely no evidence. The tooth fairy and Santa Claus have as much claim on reality.

    SO it is tough because either the topic should be ignored or it should be subject to a withering discussion.

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    While we are busy debunking myths that deserve it, we should not overlook the “inconvenient truths” that global environmental threats are real and could combine and accelerate out of control, as Dr. Fraknoi has just acknowledged. Unfortunately the potential for a “Nuclear Winter” — which has been with us for decades — is terribly real. Until the human race eliminates the nuclear monster entirely, we are on borrowed time.

    Dr. Alan Robock at Rutgers and his colleagues have pointed out that “Nuclear Winter is a Clear and Present Danger” [“Nature Journal,” 2011 May 19th.] Nuclear explosions lighting uncontrollable, major fires in multiple cities could well block out much of the sun worldwide, leading to massive crop failures and starvation, apart from the potential to freeze us all. Should we turn a blind eye to this grim reality or deal with it as a stimulus for new levels of global consciousness, governance, and peace?

    Listeners needing a lift in the face of this challenge should do a search on “Global Birth 2012” and participate in tomorrow’s uplifting Internet event.

    Special thanks to your IONS guest for pointing out the positive power of collective intention.

    • chrisnfolsom

      When half the US population believe in creation and human/dinosaur interaction it’s hard to get too much momentum. Anything you say to counter them is a threat against all they hold dear – and what they thing makes them and all of us moral. Undercutting that will be a scary, daunting task – I am more comfortable with misled people following a basically peace loving religion that lost souls (with guns) who have lost their reason to be civil.

  • I believe those dooms days are the calculations errors about something hitting the earth on the specified day.

    We could see this as the rounding error in someones calculations done thousands of years ago. A small fractional value rounding may put the million miles of closeness of a comet to earth as collision to earth. And day may be way off too.

  • chrisnfolsom

    Again, there is NO crisis – we created something. The real crisis is the social momentum that will not stop even when these events have been debunked over and over and over again – why can’t we stop it and move on? Remember, the Mayan’s didn’t start this – an Archaeologist who has been debunked misinterpreted it and has been proven.

  • Guest

    Please mention the numerous books published and SOLD fomenting the fervor.

  • troll

    Apocalyptic authors published New Age fear-mongering which served to feed the trepidations surrounding this particular date. This is part of a longer-term and more widespread willingness to believe in catastrophism which may be seen in fears rising around the end of 1999. This may be seen also in smaller groups such as millenarians and their many End of the World predictive date-settings, and in relation to the Biblical millenium keyed to scriptural predictions of the return of the mythic figure known as Jesus Christ. It fits for fear-inducement moreso in relation to what are called rumor-panics that typically suppose a ‘menace in our midst’ which are more common and may be seen to have ravaged several cultures during the 20th century (e.g. the 2 Red Scares at the commencement and the mid-point, and Satanic Panic at the end of that century).

  • chrisco

    It’s a good opportunity to listen to REM’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

  • Did I hear a concern about solar flares on the show? 2012hoax.org has a good backgrounder on this issue http://www.2012hoax.org/solar-flares Solar flares do not pose a direct danger in 2012. Other Doomsday astronomical issues are also addressed from a scientific point of view at 2012hoax.org.

  • The Institute of Noetic Studies just provided me a link to distant healing studies, articles & resources that Marilyn Schlitz mentioned today http://noetic.org/research/project/compassionate-intention-prayer-and-distant-healing/reading/

  • John

  • Steve

    Really Michael, this was one dumb show. Maybe you could follow with one on the Flat Earth Society.
    Discussing with a Mayan, as was suggested, may have salvaged the show, but you didn’t do that either.
    A show on causes of mass hysteria might have been a better use of your valuable air time.

  • Berkeley Lab

    Looking to the Skies: Modern Cosmology and the Maya

    Public attention on the Maya calendar doomsday scenario has,
    for all the wrong reasons, expanded the audience that might have questions about the fate of the universe. The Berkeley Lab video “Looking to the Skies” refocuses this momentary interest into something more enduring through the perspective of Berkeley Lab astrophysicists and Nobel laureates, George Smoot and Saul Perlmutter — joined by Berkeley Lab physicist Eric Linder and UC anthropologist Gerardo Aldana. Together they explore the
    cultural and scientific connections between Mayan astronomers and modern cosmologists as they look to the skies for answers to how the universe evolved, how it might end, and our place in it. The
    fundamental human curiosity about our origins and fate, a quest that persists across time and cultures, has been enriched by recent discoveries about dark energy, the Big Bang, and the accelerating universe. New knowledge has only increased our sense of wonder about the cosmos and deepened our appreciation for what the Mayans achieved using only the naked eye.

  • rsumrall
  • chrisnfolsom

    We try not to allow science that cherry picks it’s facts – and forgets those that don’t prove a point, but when it comes to lore and religion we don’t hold the same scrutiny – so there is no way to compare. A dooms day individual can say with certainty and conviction that they are right and get people thinking they might be right – like with gambling and other activities. You are left with opposing someone who is certain with science – which is very rarely certain, but evolving. We learn many things about the Mayans, but to think their science – very rudimentary, but impressive for it’s time – can predict earthquakes, comets in cycles that are orders of magnitude longer than they survived as a culture? If you believe their science then the same argument can be used as you are using against the bible – they cherry pick their facts. I believe in their meteors, but don’t like the sacrificing of individuals to manipulate “things”, or with the bible, I believe a vague interpretation of man lying with man being a sin, but will forget about stoning adulterers, slaughtering children and such. Now we can see that since more than just priests can read and interpret the bible and have access to science that while there is much to learn about the past from artifacts they all need to be taking in reference to what we know and believe now instead of being used to propagate unfounded conspiracy theories and fears.

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