The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

2012 Isn’t Seen as End-of-the-World by Real Mayans

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 12, 2009

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the last year or so, you no doubt have heard all manner of New Age silliness regarding the supposed end-of-the-world on Dec. 21, 2012. The idea has gotten so much traction in the popular consciousness that the master of cheesy doomsday movies, Roland Emmerich, has a big movie named – you guessed it – “2012” coming out next month.

So what’s the big damn deal with all of this 2012 hysteria?  Supposedly it has to do with the Mayan calendar, specifically one version called the Long Count calendar, which is set to end and reset on Dec. 12, 2012 on the Western calendar (much like how our Western calendar resets from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 every year).  And for this reason, a number of nutty New Agers are going crazy about “cosmic alignments” and how this will result in all manner of horrendous things for humanity… you know, the typical doomsday junk.

But what makes all of this truly hilarious is what actual Mayans (yes, there are still some around) say when you ask them about all of this 2012 nonsense:

2012 isn’t the end of the world, Mayans insist

Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. After all, it’s not the end of the world.

Or is it?

Definitely not, the Mayan Indian elder insists. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.”

It can only get worse for him. Next month Hollywood’s “2012” opens in cinemas, featuring earthquakes, meteor showers and a tsunami dumping an aircraft carrier on the White House.

At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the “Curious? Ask an Astronomer” Web site, says people are scared.

“It’s too bad that we’re getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they’re too young to die,” Martin said. “We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn’t live to see them grow up.”

Chile Pixtun, a Guatemalan, says the doomsday theories spring from Western, not Mayan ideas.

Another piece of evidence which suggests that the Mayans never bought into this 2012 b.s. is the fact that their calendar references dates far past the year 2012, which would seem to be at odds with the notion of the end of humanity…

Spooky, perhaps, but Bernal notes there are other inscriptions at Mayan sites for dates far beyond 2012 — including one that roughly translates into the year 4772.

So if the Mayans themselves didn’t ever buy into any of these apocalyptic visions which are so busy running around the Internet and, soon, in the movies, why are people getting themselves so freaked out?  It seems as if the long-standing notion of the end-of-the-world from Western Christianity is being transplanted upon other cultures as the traditional doomsday scenarios fail to pan out…

Bernal suggests that apocalypse is “a very Western, Christian” concept projected onto the Maya, perhaps because Western myths are “exhausted.” …

… Westerners have been trying for more than a century to pin doomsday scenarios on the Maya. And while fascinated by ancient lore, advocates seldom examine more recent experiences with apocalypse predictions.

“No one who’s writing in now seems to remember that the last time we thought the world was going to end, it didn’t,” says Martin, the astronomy webmaster. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of memory that things were fine the last time around.

And that last point bears repeating: what is the common feature of every single doomsday, apocalyptic, or end-of-the-world scenario?  They’ve all been dead wrong, because we’re still here, folks  🙂

No matter what the source of the End Times prediction, these predictions have always clearly been wrong.  And before the prediction of humanity’s destruction has failed to pan out, time after time, the true believers in the prophecy have always had what they considered “iron clad evidence” that proved it would happen.  And, again, every single time they’ve been wrong.

In fact, take a look at the list of failed end-of-the-world predictions at James Randi’s Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult & Supernatural. It’s a pretty exhaustive list, folks.

Allow me to give the last word to the article I’ve been referencing in this blog post, as it does a really good job of putting all of this 2012 silliness into a realistic context…

“If I went to some Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn’t have any idea,” said Jose Huchim, a Yucatan Mayan archaeologist. “That the world is going to end? They wouldn’t believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain.

11 Responses to “2012 Isn’t Seen as End-of-the-World by Real Mayans”

  1. anaglyph said

    There’s a fairly comprehensive wrap-up of ‘Timewave Zero’ on Wikipedia:

    The great thing about the article is that it lists all the possible scenarios for the ‘End of the World’ on one page, which has the ultimate effect of making it look implausible.

    Still, there is something rather engaging about the idea of the Emmerich film – I’ve seen a lot of the material and my morbid fascination delights in seeing an enormous wave smash a battleship down on the Whitehouse, the Rio Jesus falling to pieces, and, best of all, the Vatican crash to the ground while thousands of the faithful pray outside for God to intercede in the cataclysm. In tone, the second trailer for the film appears fairly anti-religion.

  2. Madrina said

    I can’t get any of my neighbors and friends in Quintana Roo get excited about a hypothetical end of the world on Dec 21 2012 either. I suspect as the date gets closer there will be some plans for celebrations or fiestas that are a natural part of life in the Yucatan. Hope to see you at one of them.

  3. […] finally, for the Weirdness Subcommittee, the Skeptical Teacher gave an update on the 2012 conspiracy, and Bing McGhandi presented us with a podcast full of…well, full of weird […]

  4. Ur ass said

    ya 1012 is gay idk y ppl think that there so retarded but 2012 might be real
    12-12-2012(devil bday) ther wont be a

  5. …ow thankz to the writer o this site cause u gave us more hope to still live in 2012!!!

  6. isn’t real or not??? cause were really scared!….

  7. Robbie said

    I don’t think it will happen like come on people they only put that stuff in the movie so they can make money! What is the chances of that happening? I watched 2012 last night, the worst thing that will probably happen on that date is the price of gas might go up! LOL come on people there’s not enough ice in the world to flood it! And all that volcano eruptions and meteor showers like i said before, it’s just to make the movie look good! The creator’s of that movie “2012” should be ashamed of themselves scaring everyone like that!

  8. blublubluefunnyaswtflolhdksjzhdgjrfncgrbfhj said

    HOnestly, it depends, whatever ur heart tells u, that will happen in my opinion. And Please don’t be scared, the whole “End of world” is really the “End of cycle”, nothing will happen, it is actually a really big celebration for the Mayans, so they will be partying and drinking beer and wine, and wearing party hats, and dancing, and singing, and making out, and having fun cus of the happy date of 2012… Yay, now time 2 PARTy!!! 😀

  9. DKM said

    Hmm.. well youde be a fool to believe that it all ends in 2012.. but you would also feel like a fool.. if the world did end in 2012.. pick your side.. it all ends the same way.. we will only find out in 2012.. untill then live life..

  10. anaglyph said

    Even on pure logical principles, you’ll be more of a fool believing the world will end if it doesn’t. If you believe that it won’t end, and it does, then no-one will be around to care.

  11. santa said

    what the hell of this world end?????????????????? i want to live some more

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