In case you haven’t heard the news by now, December 21, 2012 was a non-event. The world did not end-we did not get smashed to smithereens. We did not experience a mass number of deaths with millions or even billions killed.
Nor did the world as we know it end. As Daniels (2011) noted, “Their mantra, ‘The end of the world as we know it’ leaves a lot of wiggle-room. I see it as a weasel-clause” (p. 115). Needless to say, nothing remarkable happened on the 21st of December-there was no shift of consciousness, no cultural revolution, no single magic or miraculous event that occurred on this day.
But the doomsayers just seemed so sure of it, so how could they have been wrong?
Here are some of the signs that seemed like pretty convincing evidence and were believed by many New Agers:
- The Mesaoamerican calendar, used by the Maya, Olmecs, and others ended on December 21, 2012
- Terrence McKenna designed a computer program called Time Wave Zero which calculated that time would end in 2012 (the Omega Point)
- Nancy Lieber claimed that a group of aliens had contacted her, and warned her that December 21, 2012 would be the date that the mysterious Planet X crashes into earth
- In astrology, December 21, 2012 represents a move away from the Age of Pisces (our current age) and into Age of Aquarius.
- A prediction made by well known seer Nostradamus point to 2012
- A prediction made by Merlin the Wizard also points to 2012 (as if he were a real person, all of a sudden)
- The Hopi Indians believed that the earth has gone through previous transitions in which the world was destroyed, and that in 2012 the world would transition from the fourth age to the fifth
- Astronomers noted that December 21, 2012 would be the date that the earth passes by the center of the galaxy, which would expose it to unusual types of energy
Many of these claims have been documented all over the web. Doomsayers saw many countless “proofs” that December 21 2012 would indeed be a disaster. Michael Shermer, found of The Skeptics Society, explains why these converging lines of evidence are important:
Just as detectives employ the convergence of evidence technique to deduce who most likely committed a crime, scientists employ the method to deduce the likeliest explanation for a particular phenomenon. Cosmologists reconstruct the history of the universe through a convergence of evidence from astronomy, planetary geology, and physics. Geologists reconstruct the history of the planet through a convergence of evidence from geology, physics, and chemistry. Archaeologists piece together the history of civilization through a converge of evidence from biology (pollen grains), chemistry (kitchen middens), physics (potsherds, tools), history (works of art, written sources), and other site-specific artifacts. (Shermer, 2006, p. 12)
Of course, none of the 2012ers’ theories were valid, for a number of reasons. Each of these pieces of mounting evidence has been met with a rebuttal from the skeptical and rational crowd:
- Mayan archeologists uncovered evidence that the Maya never believed the world would end just because their calendar ended. Modern-day Maya have been made the same points.
- McKenna’s computer program originally pointed to mid-November of 2012, but when he heard about the Mayan calendar ending on December 21, he manually changed the end-date so that it would match.
- Nancy Lieber originally predicted that Planet X would crash in 2003, and when it didn’t happen, she simply revised it to match the end date of December 21.
- According to astrologers, the Age of Aquarius would begin in the year 2150.
- Nothing that Nostradamus ever wrote suggested anything special about 2012. Some have interpreted his writings to say the world would end in 1999; others have suggested it could end as far away as 3797. That’s to say nothing of whether he had any abilities to begin with.
- Merlin the Wizard was a character of legends from Knights of the Round Table. He was probably not a real person, but even if he was based on anyone, reports of his deeds have been greatly exaggerated.
- The Hopi Indians never gave a specific timeline for when the fifth age was supposed to begin, although it has been said to be imminent for at least 30 years.
- Astronomers have been consistent in saying that there is no “galactic alignment” and that the universe just isn’t designed for an exact alignment to occur on one specific day. There is an imprecise alignment with the galactic equator that occurred for a period of time in 1998, and we have been drifting away from it ever since then.
As can be seen, none of the evidence that the doomsayers used held up under scrutiny. It wasn’t really evidence at all. But it seemed to be, since there was so much of it. These various signs represented quantity over quality. Any one of these theories could easily be picked apart on its own. But taken as a whole, they seemed rather intimidating. The way these theories worked together illustrates not only Shermer’s convergence of evidence, but also the concept of synergy, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So the next time you hear someone explain how there’s all of this proof that the world is ending, be not fooled. Instead, evaluate each piece of evidence on its own. More likely than not, it will collapse like a house of cards.
Daniels, D. (2011). The 2012 delusion. Las Vegas, NV: DMD Global Publishing Group.
Shermer, M. (2006). Why Darwin matters: The case against intelligent design. New York, NY: Times Books.