Don’t put off shopping, world won’t end Dec. 21
The end of the world is Dec. 21, according to the Mayan calendar.
The Mayan calendar does end its 5,125-year cycle the Friday before Christmas, but just as your 2012 wall calendar expires Dec. 31, it isn’t predicting the demise of the world, York University professor Paul Delaney says.
Will the world end Dec. 21, as the infamous Mayan calendar supposedly predicts?
York University Professor Paul Delaney draws a deep breath and bellows a hearty guffaw.
“Rest assured, I have dinner plans for the 22nd,” the university’s physics and astronomy department director said. “And, I will most definitely be there.”
If anyone can allay the one in 10 who fear the prophesied doomsday, as surveyed in a recent Ipsos Global Public Affairs poll conducted for Reuters, it’s the jocular Bethune College fellow and sage senior lecturer.
The Mayan calendar does end its 5,125-year cycle on the Friday before Christmas, but just as your 2012 wall calendar expires on Dec. 31, it isn’t predicting the demise of the world, he said.
In reality, the calendar will continue, as will we and the planet.
The end of days notion has to be viewed in a light-hearted manner, Mr. Delaney said.
It’s the only way to go, he said, adding end-of-the-world scenarios pop up and are dispelled regularly.
The latest Mayan calendar-based theory suggests a galactic alignment that would create chaos on Earth because of the gravitational effect between the sun and the black hole, called Sagittarius A, at the centre of our galaxy.
The tale began with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth.
Another theory involves a polar shift, which means a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles.
Simply put, science doesn’t support gloom merchants’ Armageddon conjecture, Mr. Delaney said.
“Nibiru hurtling toward earth?” he asked. “That kind of commentary preys on those don’t want to stop and think of what we can do with modern instrumentation.
“A polar shift? The whole story is not there. The geological record of history shows magnetic polarity changes and it happens over millions of years with no impact on the planet. It’s not something that happens overnight.”
The ancient Mayans were gifted astronomers and were comfortable with tracking the stars and time, Mr. Delaney said. They created complex calendars, steeped in science and religion.
“There’s nothing wrong with their timekeeping,” Mr. Delaney said. “The idea that time runs out is a misnomer. Their’s was a long calendar. There’s nothing in Mayan literature about the end of time or the world. It’s just the end of one long-cycle calendar and start of a new one.”
Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, he pointed out. It occurs each year and nothing happens.
Experience, empirical evidence and a long list of failed doomsday predictions support the premise we’ll all be around after 4:11 p.m. eastern standard time that Friday.
Science trumps superstition.
There are dozens of failed apocalyptic prophecies.
Consider what our ancestors called the Jupiter Effect.
It called for earth shattering events every 176 years. People dreaded 1804 when it was to happen and fears rose again in 1980.
California faith-based Family Radio host Harold Camping applied numerology to the Bible and predicted Satan would take over on May 21, 1988.
He blamed bad math when Beelzebub was a no show.
Mr. Camping then predicted Christ would return between Sept. 15 and 17, 1994.
When that didn’t come true, he admitted to a mistake in his calculations.
Finally, after spending $3 million to incorrectly publicize the rapture for May 21 and then Oct. 21 of last year, Mr. Camping and his faulty calculator have gone silent.
United States televangelist and ex-Baptist minister Pat Robertson said God told him the world would end in 1982. That didn’t stop him from being a failed Republican candidate in the 1988 presidential election.
A respected German scholar and priest, Johannes Stoeffler, predicted in 1499 the world would be flooded because all six of the known planets would be in conjunction in the Pisces constellation.
Millions fled to higher ground, leaving Herr Stoeffler and his soothsaying high and dry.
The list, including the angst and dread surrounding the supposed Y2K bug, goes on.
“People just don’t put two and two together,” Mr. Delaney said. “People like to think there are dark forces beyond their control. When it’s all said and done, calendars are human inventions.”
Approximately 15 per cent of people globally believe the world will end during their lifetime and one in 10 believes the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012, according to the Ipsos/Reuters poll.
The international poll of 16,262 people in more than 20 countries varied widely, with 6 per cent of French residents believing in an impending Armageddon in their lifetime, compared to 22 per cent in Turkey and the United States.
People with lower education or household income levels, and those younger than 35, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012 or have anxiety over the prospect, Ipsos research manager Keren Gottfried said.
The Mayan calendar doesn’t unnerve Aurora’s Danielle Gauci, 16, or her peers.
“I think it’s crazy to think the world is going to end,” the St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School student said with a smile. “It’s part of the discussion and we talk about different theories, but my friends and family aren’t worried.
“It’s like Y2K. Everyone was worried for nothing.”
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees echoed those sentiments.
“I think we’ll all be around to have an election next year,” the Progressive Conservative politician said. “What is more interesting is the fiscal cliff our friends to the south are dealing with.”
If you’ve used the doomsday prediction to avoid holiday gifting, take heart: you have three shopping days after Dec. 22 before Christmas and approximately a month before your credit card bills arrive.
“Absolutely, we’ll see December 22,” Mr. Delaney said.
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