Friday, 23 January 2009

The Mayan Calendar Does Not End In 2012, Jim

From The Teapot Atheist: I've commented on Jim Harold's "PARANORMAL PODCAST" (and yes, it is in all caps on iTunes) before. I ripped on them when they had Noreen Renier, the "psychic detective," out promoting her traveling fraud gig, but now I bring them up because they had on a guest whose ignorance can serve a useful didactic purpose.

Perhaps you've heard from a coworker or a nice young man on the street selling pencils from a cup that the world is going to end in 2012. The chief line of "evidence," as Paranormal Podcast episode #33's guest Marie Jones uncritically parroted, is that the ancient Mayan calendar supposedly ends some time towards the end of the year 2012. To be clear- Jones and her co-apocalypticists are correct when they point out that December 21st, 2012, is a day of significance in the Mayan calendar. Unfortunately, she gets pretty much everything else on this issue wrong.

The critical error is the statement that the Mayan calendar “ends” or terminates on December 21st, 2012, which is simply untrue. On that day, the Mayan calendar will just chug on along into another cycle; it is the equivalent of saying that the world will end shortly after Christmas this year because the Gregorian calendar “ends” on December 31st. This is obviously ridiculous; the calendar doesn’t “end,” it simply starts another cycle. In fact, the Great Cycle has come to a conclusion several times in recorded history and catastrophe has not materialized. The last time a Great Cycle restarted was September 18th, 1618, and surprisingly, the world did not conclude. Nor did it on June 15th, 1224, or on March 13th, 830. There is no evidence anywhere in the archaeological record of Mayans who associated the restarting of the Great Cycle with cataclysm. Period.

This is of course ignoring the obvious fact that one cannot logically infer truth from the wild astrologies of dead theocracies. Even if the Mayan long count ended with "and then the Earth will explode in 2012!," this would still not be a good reason to think that any such thing would occur. But, the 2012 crew keeps chugging away with no evidence whatsoever, proving that once you permit yourself to be mesmerized by the pseudoscientific trappings of this or that fad belief (be it quantum quackery, creationism, 2012, any such nonsense), only by some incredible inner fortitude can you rescue yourself from the BS, not by the mere power of truth being given to you by a skeptic from the outside.

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