I herald the Apocalypse tonight on TV

By Phil Plait | January 5, 2009 3:00 pm
Seven Signs of the Apocalypse on The History Channel

I’ll be on TV tonight and all this week: The History Channel is airing a show called "Seven Signs of the Apocalypse" at 21:00 Eastern (US) time (but check your local listings). I did what I call a "stand-up interview" for this show: me standing in front of some interesting background while I talk astronomy. In this case, it was asteroid impacts and gamma-ray bursts, two of my fave death-from-the-skies scenarios.

I’ve seen some of the graphics from the show, and they are spectacular. It should be pretty cool, even if couched in an "End Times" framework.


Comments (52)

  1. Gnat

    Great, something interesting to watch tonight…instead of “Superstars of Dancing”!

  2. PZ’s going to be soooo jealous. Unless he gets to do a show on the four cephalopods of the apocalypse.

  3. kuhnigget

    I hope they don’t fill it with that Nostradamus/Mayan calendar crap they’ve been advertising all week.

    The History Channel is really hit and miss with regards to their science. Some of their programs on ancient Egypt have been laughably absurd.

  4. Davidlpf

    As long as the apocalypse is underwater they might have chance. It looks like pz winning the weblog awards.

  5. The Gamma Ray Bursts chapter is, so far, my favorite chapter from “Death From the Skies”. Wish I had cable or I’d be watching your show.

  6. Papabear

    I watched the 2012/nostradamus stuff last night….actually it was on in the background while I read death from the skies. It was pretty bad though…not even a token interview with a real scientist offering a dissenting opinion. huge leaps in logic to explain to the “prophecy”…how anyone can believe some of this stuff is beyond me.

  7. Fauxnetikz

    Awesome! I’m definitely going to watch this.

  8. jtradke

    …two of my fave death-from-the-skies scenarios.

    Man, somebody should write a book about those!

  9. Rob

    You are SO getting beat by PZ on the Weblog awards, you should do a post about it to get some votes!

  10. Run for the hills! (Not that that will make any difference – but run for them anyway)


  11. Richard

    2012 prophecies? I’m guessing a revamp of “earth changes” that were much lauded before the turn of the millennium? Or some paranormal-nerd saying that the earth was gonna increase in gravity thereby pinning everyone to the ground?

    I’m wondering when the next Doomsday Year is gonna be, ’cause I’d like to be the first one to tell Doomsday worshipers, “You mean like what happened in 200 and 2012?”

    BTW, I second that notion to turn science-based end-of-the-world scenarios.

    Now, I wonder who might be able….to…write such a……book.

    (Facetious? Me? Really?)

  12. Dave Hall

    kuhnigget Says:
    “I hope they don’t fill it with that Nostradamus/Mayan calendar crap they’ve been advertising all week.”

    Not much worry there, judging by the ad copy on the link Phil provided. Looks more traditional biblical prophesy than new age sap stuff. But leave it to the Hystery Channel to fund some way to link Pyramids, Atlantis, Masons, Paul McCartney death coverup, the Zapruder Film and Ancient Astronauts from Area 51 to Bible prophesy.

    The History Channel’s motto seems to be: “Who Needs Truth if it is Dull?”

  13. MKR

    And then Mars pops open and some person reveals that we were the aliens all along.

  14. Nasikabatrachus

    Ugh, another lukewarm History Channel production.

    “Does the Book of Revelations predict things that are happening today? Scientists agree that, yes, if the things in the Book of Revelations happened, the world could end! Nevermind that all of these things have happened before in worse ways, because that would detract from the sensationalistic hand-waving premise of this show!”

  15. Paul Judd

    I just saw your performance. Great job as always. I love how you come across with such confidence – it gives the impression that you really do know what you are talking about. Your interviews are always a treat.

  16. Nigel

    Watching this now. Thought I recognized your name! Great appearance.

    Really enjoyed your participation in the MythBusters’ Moon Myths.

    BTW, I was at Dragon*con and stopped by the skeptics panel–of all the questioners, I was in one of the last panels and asked you about your opinion of shows like MythBusters that you didn’t pay to ask the question. 😉

  17. Leslie

    I had to hang up on my mother for the show and told her it was because my “favorite astronomer is about to be on TV.” Apparently, she wasn’t aware that people could have those…

    I’m sure she’ll stop laughing at some point.

  18. kuhnigget

    I would just like to add, however, that I am very disappointed. After the headline above, I was expecting some really terrible pun. “Hark the herald, alien thing?” The good doctor could do better.

  19. «bønez_brigade»

    I just started watching at 25min ’til 9CST, and a check of the show’s info reveals that it is more biblical than your warning. Yack. Phil, I hope you threw some skepticism into your interviews for the viewers that believe in end-times baloney. Hopefully, we’ll get to see you on tomorrow’s ‘Universe’ show!

  20. Eclogite

    I started watching it and became more interested when I saw you were on, Phil. I just couldn’t get past the constant return to the religious theme, though, so had to turn it off.

  21. «bønez_brigade»

    Huzzah! Phil is on at 5 past in the 2nd hour, saying (with bug-eyes) “death rays”!

  22. IBY

    Oh my lord, I am watching it right now, and it is the Bible prophecy thingy. Phil, what kind of torture have you brought upon me! ^_^

  23. kuhnigget:

    I hope they don’t fill it with that Nostradamus/Mayan calendar crap they’ve been advertising all week.

    The History Channel is really hit and miss with regards to their science. Some of their programs on ancient Egypt have been laughably absurd.


    That is the consequence of digital multi-channel commercial broadcasters competing for advertising revenue: they increasingly cater for the lowest common denominator in order to pull in more viewers and, therefore, charge higher fees to the advertiser. That is why we have rubbish like Big Brother and other bloody ‘reality’ programmes on TV!


  24. Mena

    Uh oh, biblical stuff AGAIN? I don’t think that I’ll get too far into this show either, I couldn’t get past the second paragraph here:

  25. Knurl

    Yes, IVAN3MAN, that is exactly the problem.

    I had to shut it off. It’s just a spin on Revelations.

  26. Frank

    I was watching the History Channel (actually still am) while doing other stuff and heard a familiar voice, I look up and lo and behold it was Phil Plait! It was pretty amazing and I wanted to see if you made a blog post about it, which you did and now I’m commenting on it. It was pretty awesome seeing you on the tubes!

  27. Justin Olson

    Sorry Phil, even you cannot save complete garbage.

  28. I have to agree with some of the above, that show was utter garbage. I had to turn it off after about 20 minutes. I understand the need for exposure and all, but I’m surprised you’d lend your services to purveyors of such pap. Didn’t even get a plug for the book (unless it appeared later in the show, I just couldn’t take any more). :(

  29. KC

    I watched the 2012/Nostradamus show – it was utter and complete bilge. Just awful: WORST…SHOW…EVER! Only thing it didn’t havein it was spoon-bending. :-(

  30. gaypaganunitarianagnostic

    Sorry I mised you. Would have watched it if I had known. Otherwise, I’m alergic to Revolution (reformed Baptist)

  31. Oh, drat. From the comments, it looks like it fits right in with the ‘Bible Code’ that preceded it. I’m currently DVR’ing it so I can cut out the parts with BA the commericals.



  32. ctcoker

    I tried to watch it. I really tried. I even did so On Demand so there wouldn’t be any commercials, plus I was bored out of my mind at the time, which me more likely to wade through BS just for something to do. Even with all these factors going for it, I lasted fewer than five (5) minutes. Sweet Zombie Jesus, it was [i]awful[/i].

  33. Grand Lunar

    I wasn’t going to watch the program at first, but since you’ll be in it Phil, I think I’ll give it a whirl.

    I sure hope it’s better than another program that was on in the afternoon on Monday.

    Science was limited. It was more along the lines of things that James Randi addresses. Penn would have a field day with it.

  34. Joe Meils

    Sign #1: Sarah Palin runs for Pres.
    Sign #2: The middle east declares peace, claims “What were we thinking?”
    Sign #3: The Beatles reunite
    Sign #4: Suddenly, you can detrmine if it’s a wave and a particle.
    Sign #5: Creationists admit they were wrong.
    Sign #6: Sci Fi channel actually plays science fiction other than Stargate.
    Sign #7: Plucky astronomers sell more books than Stephen King!

  35. JoeSmithCA


    I’ve got my own end of the world prediction:

    I predict the end of the world will happen between now and 10^36 years from now. Unfortunatly due to electrostatic interference from the plastic box covering my crystal ball, my psychic powers cannot tell me how it will end. However, I bet it will be an event as explained in Phil’s book. :)

  36. kuhnigget

    Sign #8: Electro-noodly Plasma engulfs the Earth, causing astrophysicists to throw up their arms and admit gravity really was a hoax.

  37. Charles Boyer

    “Sign #6: Sci Fi channel actually plays science fiction other than Stargate.”

    January 16: Battlestar Galactica returns.

  38. Gary Ansorge

    I predict Earth will end(as a planet) when humans decide to dismantle the planet to make more space colonies, in, say, 10^6 years, or so. This will really infuriate the SAVE EARTH NOW people, who have no use for technology, because they’re bio-engineered to live in hard vacuum and hard radiation. For them more space colonies just get in their way,,,

    Any bets???ANyone???(crickets)

    GAry 7

  39. «bønez_brigade»

    “Sign #6: Sci Fi channel actually plays science fiction other than Stargate.”

    Sadly, their line-up sucks these days, but they’re the only channel (I know of) that shows the Twilight Zone (one of the greatest shows in TV history, IMO). Occasionally, their midday block will include real sci-fi, but that’s also waning.

  40. Dave Hall


    You were on this program about Biblical prophesies and you were talking about asteroid impacts and gamma ray bursts–then by association you were suggesting these events were rooted in Biblical end times.

    So much for the Mr Rational Skeptic facade– I’ll bet you are a closet ID’er too!

  41. Ryan Jensen

    Phil, what interesting company you keep! I too had a hard time getting past your first appearance in the show … I think I fell asleep just after.

    Tell me, what’s your favorite verse in Revelations?

  42. It bothers me that the History Channel is so religious that it follows up a quote by you to a quote from the Book of Revelations. The implication that your scientific comment might back up that religious nonsense is enough to make me swear off that channel for good.

  43. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    Oops, my last post got eaten. Sorry, I said a bad word. But I can’t help it when Fundy Mental Cases rear their st00pid heads.

  44. Speaking of History Channel stupidity, do you plan to address the “Nostradamus: 2012” nonsense? I am especially interested in the whole “galactic alignment” business.

  45. Wendy

    No dice for Canada :(

  46. José

    Oh boy. It was a pretty awful show. At least I got to turn to my wife and say, “Hey. that guy on TV has yelled at me a couple of times for making stupid posts!” She was really impressed.

  47. Badger3k

    Battlestar Galactica? Did they drop the religious/New Age hogwash and actually have some science – that “prophecy” crap is why I stopped watching it. Between the miraculous “prophecy”, the magic, and the fact that it seems like every other character is a cylon, is there any science (or anything approaching rationality or even common sense) left?

  48. Flip

    Just watched this today.

    Wonderful how Phil supports predictions in the bible.

  49. fransisco4

    Got to see it this afternoon. Regards from Argentina.

  50. JMW

    Well, my oldest son PVR’d it, and watched it today, along with my daughter. He’s 14, she’s 10 (and when I initially tried to type “oldest”, I misspelled it “odest”, which could also be interpreted as as misspelling of “oddest”…)

    It was an interesting opportunity, for 3 or 4 times during the show I had my son pause the play back and talked to my kids about the vast leaps or outright errors of logic that were being committed. At one point I proudly listened as my daughter said, “Yeah, and…” and pointed out another logical fallacy.

    So it was fun.


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