2012: Combat the Nonsense

In a rather cruel media ploy, the creators of the upcoming science fiction movie “2012” are purposely feeding the flames of internet panic about the ridiculous claims that the world will end in 2012. This viral marketing campaign has created fake science websites and encourages people to search for “2012” on the Web. While there are many websites, like Universe Today, which provide solid and methodical evidence that the 2012 hysteria is complete nonsense, hordes of other sites out there are full of gobbledygook and a gross misstating of what they claim to be scientific evidence that some astronomical event will decimate our planet. Why are these hoaxers doing this? For the oldest reason ever: for profit and notoriety. If you visit their websites, most are trying to sell books or videos.

For those reading this article because you have concerns about 2012, we encourage you to read our complete series of articles on 2012, and it won’t cost you a thing. The articles were written by Dr. Ian O’Neil, who has a PhD in solar physics. Additionally, below is a list of other resources that should help answer any questions or concerns you may have on this topic:

1. NASA scientist Dr. David Morrison Dr. Morrison, a world-renowned expert on the solar system (and asteroid impacts) has published a free pdf, “Doomsday 2012, Planet Nibiru and Cosmophobia,” a concise summary of the claims and answers containing solid scientific responses. It is published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as a public service.

2. Morrison also serves as the public scientist for NASA’s “Ask an Astrobiologist” service, where he answers questions for the public. You’ll find many questions and answers about 2012 there, as well as other space topics.

3. The 365 Days of Astronomy podcast has a couple of great, short podcasts that address the 2012 claims, where you can get lots of information in about 10 minutes of your time. Will the World End in 2012? provides an overview of all 2012 doomsday hoaxes, and “Ancient Astronomy: The Mayans” discusses the significance of the Mayan calendar and, briefly, how the world is not going to end in 2012.

4. The Griffith Observatory has a great, concise page on the different claims called “The Truth About 2012: The End is NOT Near,” written by astronomer Dr. Ed Krupp.

5. “2012 Hoax” is a website written by several professional and amateur astronomers that thoroughly discusses the various doomsday scenarios and crackpot websites. You can also follow 20 12 2012 Hoax on Twitter.

6. Gia’s Blog, written by science groupie Gia Milinovitch (also married to physicist Dr. Brian Cox) has a great page titled “Apocalympics 2012: Mayan ‘Prophecy'”

7. If English isn’t your native language, astronomer Florian Freistetter has written several 2012 articles in German. They can be found on his website, Astrodicticum Simplex. Of special interest, Florian has recently put together a “2012 FAQ” page in German.

8. Daniel Fischer has a webpage in both English and German, Ist Es Wahr? Nachrichten vom Rande der Wirklichkeit (Is it true? News from the Edge of Reality), which tracks articles related to all sorts of doomsday and conspiracy theories.

9. (Added later) With the release of the Movie 2012, NASA published a short page that answers several doomsday predictions with concise, scientific answers.

21 Replies to “2012: Combat the Nonsense”

  1. Clearly these ideas about a planet Nibiru are complete balderdash. For one thing if this planet existed and given Newtonian dynamics it would by now be a few astronomical units from the sun now. It might then be visible to the naked eye.

    I listened to a lecture on Mayan astronomy some years ago. It was rather complicated and I don’t recall the details much. Yet these people had a sophisticated sort of curve fitting way of predicting the motion of Venus (the most important planet to them) the other planets and eclipses. They also used the regularities to codify cycles of time.

    As with neolithic and bronze age cultures they were concerned with how these heavenly events effected life on Earth. They also had some sense of their being cycles in human events, such as the rise and fall of their city states, and probably the prior fall of the Tolmec culture. So their calendar has this 500 year cycle to it. This same system was adopted by the Aztecs. That grand cycle measures the time period for the life of empires or great ages. That is not too far off the mark in fact, as ancient empires and to an extent more modern civilizations generally had a life time of at most 500 years or so.

    The Aztecs were in a bit of a nervous funk over this as the calendar had run out over a decade before Cortez showed up. Cortez gained alliances with other cities and tribes eager to displace the Aztecs, and the Spanish had another ally in their favor called small pox.

    We in our western cultures have similar ideas. The Book of Revelations, supposedly written by John during his exile at Patmos (40 years after the crucifiction of Jesus, making the account dubious), has a succession of beasts come out of the sea, which are symbols for governments or empires which emerge from the people (sea) and commit transgressions. It parallels the Prophesies of Daniel. These are ideas about the coming of empires and kings which rise and fall. So western culture has similar ideas about their being some determined future of powers and empires. The Mayas just formalized this in a cyclical time frame.

    The irony is that I do think there is some great shift about to come in the affairs of the world. I won’t belabor this too much, for in part it gets a bit political, but I think a major reallignement of power and culture is going to take place in the not too distant future. It is curious this might happen about 500 years after the rise of western dominance in the world.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  2. I hear they’re going to have a sequal to the 2012 movie…….

    Oh wait, they already made it…… Waterworld.

  3. Re the cyclic nature of calendars, this is a reflection of their basis in cycles and their construction to fit them. I don’t think you can predict anything more from that.

    ancient empires and to an extent more modern civilizations generally had a life time of at most 500 years or so.

    … right. Egypt. China.

    Seriously, statistics, please.

  4. Egypt today is not the same Egypt of the old Kingdom. People living in 2000 BCE Egypt would not recognize a lot in modern Egyptian society, which is Islamic. Same thing could be said of China. Dynasties would last several centuries and there were episodes of chaos in China. China would reassemble in a new form.


  5. Man, people must lead such dull lives to get into all this BS. People love to create something dramatic, just to escape the monotony of their day-to-day existence. I think all of this stems partially from the same thing that makes people read BS women’s magazines and become obsessed with celebrities – most people are generally unhappy about how their lives have turned out and need some sort of escape to a place where things are exciting, dramatic, glamorous, etc. They hunt for that sense of the mysterious that Einstein spoke so eloquently about.

    Little do they realise if they just applied themselves for a little while, they could get into science (or art, if you swing that way), thereby tapping a wellspring of wonder, drama, excitement and mystery that is more than enough for any lifetime.

    Nobody can be bothered to actually appreciate the beauty of the ideas involved though. I had someone come up to me the other day to tell me that the Hubble telescope was a complete waste of time, because “we could never actually get to the places it looks at anyway, so what’s the point?” In the conversation, they went on to express disillusionment that the LHC has been built to look for things “that we can’t even see or touch anyway, so who cares?”

    What do you say to comments like that?

  6. @Astrofiend: I’ve had the same reaction from some people when discussing any subject related to space or astronomy. I simply feel sorry for them. Generally, they tend to be narrow-minded and not particularly bright. I just walk away, content that I have the wonders of the universe to observe and discuss with likeminded people. BTW, I often find myself agreeing with your comments. You Aussies aren’t so much different from some of us Americans!

  7. This can be applied to a range of belief and ideological systems. Fundamentalist religion is of course the ultimate small box one can put their mind in. I can’t help but think that most people who elect to get into that simply are not that bright — intrinsically unintelligent. Political ideologies are another little mind box, which are mind programs or tapes which restrict a person into interpreting everything according to some script — a bit like religion. The Rush Limbaugh ditto-heads are case in point. Then there are those into astrology, or wacko moral commitments such as the animal liberation weenies. How about people who can’t talk about anything else except guns.

    There are billions of people like this out there, and in fact are the majority of people.


  8. Mike Brown blogged about this as well, and a commenter there pointed out that you can turn the movie to advantage: if somone starts to stress about 2012, you can say “Oh, it’s just that movie”.

    I agree with Torbjorn Larsson: ancient Egypt lasted for millenia, and there’s a difference between empires and civilisations. Individual Chines ’empires’ (dynasties) were more or less short-lived; Chinese civilisation endured, and still does.

  9. It’s hard to change people’s mindset like others towards us; time will tells the truth. May be it will caused some unpredictable disaster but that’s only a part of live science. Personally, I believed our Sun still has vast of lifespan before going to an end, so do our earth and the solar system.

  10. I tried to point out the stupidity of the whole 2012/Nibiru/Planet X thing on the 211220 website and was booted off for using scientific arguments and proofs. When I said that the solar system was a large number of light years above the galactic plane and therefore refuted their particular galactic alignment/crossing BS some of them flew into a petulant frenzy.

  11. Of course one could say that we still have elements of stone aged culture as well, given that we all have ancestors who lived then. Egypt of today is completely different from the Egypt of Pharohs, just as western civilization is different from medieval culture.

    Of course in saying there are changes in civilizations very 500 years that is meant as a rough guide, not anything hard. The Mayans just had ideas about there being cyclic phases in human existence, segmented into ages of earth, water, air and fire.


  12. Definition of Irony: reading this article in my email, and then seeing some mumbo jumbo ad for a 2012 Doomdsday Book just underneath!

  13. Now it is time to “combat the nonsense” about Anthropic Global Warming. More and more honest scientific evidence shows that man has very little to do with global warming, but Universe Today seems inclined to perpetuate the myth.

  14. William928 Says:
    October 14th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Great minds think alike!

    dahelander Says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    As far as I can tell, UT simply reports the scientific findings it comes across. The fact that you’ve said that ‘Anthropic Global Warming’ (wanker-ish term btw) is ‘nonsense’ and a ‘myth’ pretty much goes to show that you’re not actually interested in the science of it at all – you’ve gone out and found some ‘honest scientific evidence’ that you feel fits most comfortably with the world view you quite obviously already held, while disregarding anything else as presumably ‘dishonest’ scientific evidence.

    P.S. – I am no climate change zealot – I’ll alter my position based on available evidence. And, seeing as I don’t really care what you have to say in reply, I won’t be checking back for one, so you can save the effort.

  15. Unfortunately you do have to put pressure on these ideas. From the 5th th the first century BC there were considerable developments in rational thought. These early ideas of course existed in the mix of that age. Popular at the time were ideas of a God or gods which came in the form of a person to do miracles and save us for eternity. Of course one of these ideas that hijacked Judaism with an overlay of Hellenic notions took root and gained supremacy over civilization. This put a stop to early intellectual ideas and brought about a dark age. We still have to combat this trend as it tries to advance creationism and other quasi-science.

    Quasi-intellectual ideas now can sow the seeds for a future age where the minds of people are once again mired in a cloud of confusion.


  16. 2012 is never ever going to happen but if you relate it to the Christan rapture there is 1 out of a little less than infinity that it will happen

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