Debunking yet another apocalypse prophecy

Atomic Age Vacation

Let’s think back to the various apocalyptic scenarios we’ve heard people talk about in the last 20 years. There’s the zombies, the Nostradamus prophecies, the alien invasion and the planetary alignment, to name a few. Through history, fears of impending doom have manifested themselves in even more various forms.

Scientists have taken time to explore, and most often debunk these scenarios. Current talks of the so-called Mayan prophecies of impending doom have once more stirred up academic and expert discussion and many have publicly spoken to reassure people.

There are many excellent books, newspaper articles, websites and videos out there to reflect on the popular notion of the apocalypse, interpretations of the Mayan calendar, and other related topics. But since you may only have till Friday to live, I have selected short, fascinating and complimentary readings and videos that you can learn something from while still having time to enjoy life a little.

1. Sammells’s articles on the Savage Minds blog

Clare A. Sammells, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, has been blogging about impending doom in three posts that explore media treatment of the 2012 phenomenon, interpretations of the Mayan calendar and the financial and academic opportunities brought about by it. The author references plenty of sources should you wish to learn more. Other posts will be published through this week, so keep an eye opened.

The Savage Minds blog is an interesting resources for those interested in anthropology. It is a collaborative website where PhD students and professors share about any topic related to the discipline and where readers can take part in the discussion.

The End Is Nigh. Start Blogging.

2012, the movie we love to hate

The Opportunistic Apocalypse

2. NASA’s war on the 2012 phenomenon

Having done a bit of research about the 2012 phenomenon, I get the impression that Nasa has been crusading against it, not simply debunking it. Various articles, Q&A and videos have been published by the agency, which has also held a Google hangout on November 28th.

In this video, various experts discuss the predictions of doom, the Mayan calendar and phenomenons, such as solar flares and planetary alignments, that are said to bring about the end of days. Particularly interesting are the first two questions answered by David Morrison about popular fears and the way Hollywood exploits them. He insists that many individuals have expressed a deep fear of the apocalypse, a feeling of depression and having considered suicide as a way to escape from it. This might explain the fierce battle many experts and academics wage on the 2012 phenomenon.

Although I am a scientist a big fan of science, I do not advocate for science’s domination over other forms of knowledge and apprehending the world. However, in a case such as the one we are faced with, people are using pseudo-science to bring credibility to scary notions of doomsday. Setting things straight and getting the science right can solve this.

3. Archaeoastronomer E. C. Krupp’s The 2012 Great Scare

This great article gives you great information in a very clear and brief format to share with family and friends who might be stressed about the apocalypse. A lot of it touches on what the previous video addresses, but it is still a very interesting read.

4. Andrew Fraknoi’s Resources for Responding to Doomsday 2012: An Annotated Guide

If you need more information to calm down your stressed out friends (or reassure yourself), this guide will help you find websites, videos and other contents that will help you do so.

5. The final stone: even the Mayas can’t stand this doomsday talk

You thought Mayans were extinct? They are not. And they’re not to happy about the way their calendar is being used to justify tourism, inspire bad movies and end of days celebrations. Once again, an indigenous people feels it’s culture and knowledge is misunderstood. Now that’s something different.


You might think people are being ridiculous with this talk about Mayan prophecies, but the emotions they are going through can be very real and heavy. The fact that individuals can consider suicide as an escape from their fear is problematic and must be addressed. It also reveals how grave the apocalypse trend is despite the fact that many of us look at it as absolutely ridiculous.

It can hurt to reassure people that they will still be alive next Saturday. And we’ll have to stay on the lookout for the next thing. What are your thoughts on the next doomsday prophecies? What will they about next?

To read more about the Mayan calendar and the 2012 so-called prophecies, head out to Kevin Whitesides and John Hoopes‘s publication pages and Johan Normark’s  blog Archaeological Haecceities.

About Marie-Pierre Renaud

I am an anthropologist living in Quebec city, Canada. I specialize in native studies and anthropology of health. I am a geek. I founded and now co-manage The Geek Anthropologist blog. I am working on transforming my memoir into a book and journal articles. I like to knit while watching Star Trek. Reach out to me for collaborations!

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