As if 2020 wasn't bad enough, now we have crackpot scientists spinning doomsday-themed hoaxes, superstitions and tall tales.
2020 has really been one hell of a year. Not only have we seen a global pandemic that’s showing little signs of losing steam, but we’ve also seen social unrest, people’s livelihoods vanish into thin air, a tanking economy, plagues of locusts, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and massive firestorms.
If you think that we might be heading fast toward Armageddon, who can blame you?
But according to some conspiracy theorists on Twitter, the Mayan prophecy about a cataclysmic end of the world that supposedly would bring the world to a crashing halt on Dec. 21, 2012, was actually misinterpreted – instead, the calendar theorizers suggest, the Mayan doomsday will supposedly happen this week or next.
In a series of tweets last week that has since been deleted, scientist Paolo Tagaloguin wrote:
“Following the Julian Calendar, we are technically in 2012. The number of days lost in a year due to the shift into Gregorian Calendar is 11 days. For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = 8 years.”
"For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = 8 years”.— JL Bookings (@jlbookings) June 13, 2020
Following this theory, June 21, 2020 would actually be December 21, 2012, a date you may recognize.
What this means is that if we add up the missing days, then the supposed Mayan apocalypse would occur on June 21, 2020.
Incidentally, June 21 will also be when Africa, the Middle East, and Asia will be treated to a rare “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse that will arrive just after the Summer Solstice.
In 2012, some conspiracy theorists claimed that December 21 was when the world would end. However, the claim was entirely false and derived from a misinterpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar.
Debunking this claim, NASA said:
“The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth.
“This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 – hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.”
The space agency had also explained previously:
“For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.”
Of course, humans have been fond of cobbling together various doomsday-themed hoaxes, superstitions and tall tales, whether they’re derived from the old French astrologer and physician Nostradamus or the eschatology of monotheistic faiths like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
As author and literature critic Frank Kermode has suggested in his book The Sense of an Ending, people crave such Doomsday tales because they perform a basic, and quite comforting, psychological feature.
We humans love a good story, and any good story requires an essential narrative order comprised of a beginning, a middle and an end. This applies as much to our lives as it does to the world around us.
Kermode also suggests that the idea of a literal end to history, as envisioned in apocalypse tales, has served as an attempt to give narrative coherence and a sense of meaning to the question of human existence.
But as the ecological disasters, geopolitical conflicts, and pandemics of this year have clearly shown, the idea that global catastrophe is possible isn’t so much a matter of apocalypticism as it is a question of common sense, not to mention scientific consensus.