More 2012 debunkery

By Phil Plait | November 17, 2009 2:00 pm

2012I did an interview with reporter Maria Sciullo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a few days ago, and her article is now online. I’m glad she talked to Anthony Aveni; I’m reading his book The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 and it’s a great review of the Mayans, their astronomy, and their complete lack of predicting a doomsday in 2012.

I’m sure I’ll get some doomcriers in the comments. If you really think the Mayan calendar says the world will end in 2012, then I strongly urge you to read Aveni’s book. He’s an actual Mayan scholar, he knows his stuff, and he’s not out to either scare you or reassure you: he’s out to tell the truth.


Comments (93)

  1. It would be nice if the yahoos making money off the 2012 nonsense would send some of that to help the descendants of those self-same Mayans. As it is, they are royally pissed at their native traditions being twisted and exploited by the hucksters.

  2. DennyMo

    I found this related article on-line, interesting reading:

    As I read the first page, I thought I was reading the intro to BA’s book…

  3. Hi Phil, I know how it sounds, but are you guys have nothing to do in US other than creating this 2012 snowball? I mean here in Russia every day seems to be the Judgment Day, why wait till 2012? Come over here, I know places where they serve good beer, let’s not waste the last day on this planet :-)

  4. What? Moderation? Omg! The galaxy is in danger!

  5. he’s out to tell the truth

    You see? Everyone’s got an agenda.

  6. firemancarl
  7. firemancarl

    BTW, the above link is completely safe and not offensive.

  8. firemancarl:

    BTW, ITYM “SFW”.

  9. Hey, I just posted an article on the same subject!!! Coincidence? I think not!!!

    Yawn. These doomsayers are growing tiresome.

    I’ve realized that no matter how much science or reason one throws at the 2012 hysteria, it doesn’t do a blind bit of difference. It’s like using a proton pack to try to kill that pink slime in Ghostbusters II — no matter how much you cross the streams, it just comes back stronger.

  10. Wait… The Mayan “Long Count Calendar” is 5,126 years long? Doesn’t that mean the last time it wrapped was the same time as Noah’s flood? Coincidence?

    And, quoting BA’s quote from the above article:

    There was an asteroid last year that was supposed to hit the planet. It just doesn’t happen.

    Is this the same BA that wrote “Death from the Skies”?

  11. firemancarl

    Thanks Ken B. I am not fully up on this whole interwebs thingy…

  12. Jeremy

    When December 22, 2012 rolls around, the loonies will have a way to keep making money.

  13. I love how the book title is designed to draw in the believers, clever!

  14. I don’t know which are worse, the nutjobs who believe the Mayan doomsday idiocy, or the nutjobs who mistake movie marketing campaigns for news.

  15. Illuminati Sino-Zionists Columbia and the THUNDERS OF ZEUS

    NASA (petrified with terror) observes the Fleet of the Dragonians and Andromedians

  16. jared

    you guys just sound like a bunch of disinformants… there is to much evidence supporting a global cataclysm is coming soon and not nearly enough to disprove it. The simple fact that there is so much chatter world wide about the subject is proof enough that SOMTHING must happen…. please no y2k jokes its not nearly the same

  17. CR

    Oh, like wow, man. The New Agers are, like, cashing in on this too, you know? Like how a New Age of Beauty and Enlightenment are going to happen, just like it did back during the Harmonic Convergence (of all the solar system’s planets) did, man. Like, back in the 1980’s. Like, wow. What? You all forgot about that? Bummer.


    I suffered through an hour-log ad for the 2012 movie the other night. Oh, I mean a ‘documentary’ on Discovery Channel about the science behind the film. They sure padded out about 20 minutes of material in that one. At least they interviewed scientists, who all sided with reality and pointed out–repeatedly–that none of the events depicted in the film are ever likely to happen at all, let alone in conjunction with each other. (One even pointed out the ‘galactic eclipse/alignment thing was going to be less significant of a line-up than one that occurred in 2003… you know, the one when nothing disastrous happened!)

  18. Steve in Dublin

    @Ian #4

    If you’re crossing the streams, yer doin’ it wrong. No wonder it keeps coming back stronger!

    …but I knew what you meant.

    …but wait, it’s *different* in Ghostbusters II. Well, you learn something new every day. OK, carry on 😉

  19. A page of my 2009 calendar dropped off and got lost.

    Does this mean New Year is on 30th November this year?

  20. TomHandy

    So, what is the next big thing people are going to freak out about? After Y2K, I knew 2012 would be the next big “thing” that people would be doomsaying about, but what’s next? I can’t think of any major/common “end of the world hysteria” level events that have a specific date associated with them (like Y2K and the 2012 stuff does)? Or does it mean we’ll just go back to people predicting general “end of the world” events again?

  21. Sir Eccles

    What’s more worrying are the number of people considering suicide (as well as putting down pets) because of movie marketing.

  22. Ken C

    If the world ends in 2012 for some plain old reason, like a really nasty virus or a nuclear war, that has nothing to do with the sun/galaxy or the Mayans I am going to be so all like “In your face you primitive nitwits! I’m dying of airborne AIDs! Ha! I win!”

  23. Sam

    So there is obviously a lot of hype surrounding 2012, but I’ve never actually met anyone who believed the world was ending in 2012 – at least not anyone who was seriously committed to the idea. I’ve seen people online and on TV, but it just doesn’t seem to me like it is that widespread of a belief.

    It seems like most of the hype is coming from people talking about all the hype and how silly it is. The idea is propagating more because people are talking about how silly it is, not because people are trying to get us to believe the end of the world will come in 2012.

    Yea, there are plenty of results on Google for “2012,” but without all of us constantly talking about it (and the movie), I don’t think it would be getting any more coverage than, say, moon landing hoax believers and probably less coverage than 9-11 truthers and birthers.

  24. jared

    phil why didnt you mention the waving flag in your attempt to debunk the claims that they moon landing was faked

  25. Mike


    2220 maybe? One can only wish it’ll be that far off. We’ll be back to the arbitrary doomsdays. 2013 maybe since 13 is unlucky. Maybe January 13, 2014? That would be 13-13-13 if you’re willing to stretch things a bit. 2020? That has a nice ring to it. There’s always the 2038 unix date bug to be the next Y2K-like scenario.

  26. Robbie Clark

    When is the Bad Astronomy review of 2012? Isn’t that what everyone really wants?

  27. Thomas Siefert

    I wonder if someone is willing to make a bet?
    If the world comes to an end in 2012, I will give you my complete media collection (CDs, MP3s & DVDs, including Armageddon). If it doesn’t come to an end, you’ll have to give me your complete media collection (you will still have to take Armageddon though).
    Any takers?

  28. OtherRob

    The Mayas aren’t trying to scare us. It’s just a few people who are grossly misinterpreting everything in the universe around them.

    What a great line. :)

  29. Thanks for refuting all the nonsense about 2012. I can’t believe anybody would ever believe this nonsense. You’d think these people would’ve given up after 2000 came and went, and the world hadn’t ended. But nope, they’re still at it. I wonder what happens when 1st January 2013 rolls around and we’re all still here? Which date are these idiots going to pick next?

  30. Well if Obama doesnt turn this economy around by then, there very well may be a political doomsday.

  31. Duane

    Of course the 2012 doomsday scenario is not going to happen. The Lizard people who really control the world will rise up before then and enslave us.

  32. Adrian Lopez

    I wonder what 2012 believers would do with those digital watches that only go up to 23:59:59. If they applied the same logic to these watches as they do to their conception of the Mayan calendar, they’d be freaking out every night around midnight.

    “Aaaaaaaah! It’s 23:59! Aaaaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaah! Aaaa… huh?”

  33. Gary Ansorge

    If Y’All check this link, THEN you may understand why so many folk are afraid the world will end,,,soon,,,

    Hint: It has to do with intelligence.

    Next date for the apocalypse: 2025(or maybe that was 2023, I can never keep these doomsday dates straight). Big asteroid comes close.(gee, like THAT never happened before???)
    Or this year, as the LHC continues to ramp up(The possible detection of neutralinos is really exciting) and micro black holes eat the world OR the Yellowstone super volcano may go blooy(any times now) or Calif may sink beneath the ocean from an 8.7 quake OR some dufus in a bio lab may accidentally release smallpox(actually, that one IS a possibility, though with all those security precautions,,,).

    Take your pick. The only thing all these have in common is that people are afraid to die, so afraid they may actually kill themselves(Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds. See the aforementioned link)

    I fear humanity really IS getting dumber(as a species). Even our domestic cats have exhibited a reduction in brain mass over the centuries(Coyotes seem to be experiencing the opposite reaction to humans,ie their brain mass has INCREASED nearly 30% over the last half century. Well, at least we’re doing something constructive to someone. Gee, I wonder how we’re affecting rats?)

    Say, how about that Dark Flow discovery? See! I TOLD you our universe was in orbit about a super massive black hole,,OMG we’re all gonna get sucked into another universe,,,ACK!(remember Bill, the cat?)

    Someday, the world will end,,,but probably not today.

    GAry 7
    Now, where the heck did I put that j,,,Hey, I have a prescription,,,

  34. Cairnos

    @Robbie Clark

    The problem with a BA review of 2012 is that he normally mentions the bits that don’t make sense. He will get in trouble if he puts the entire script on his blog 😉

  35. Dagnabbit Phil, it’s not the Maya that say the world will end in 2012, but it’s the role playing game Shadowrun that says the Maya said that and got it wrong by 1 year (2011, actually). And Shadowrun doesn’t say it will end, but the world as we know it will end, with the year 2011 ushering in a new era of magic and technology, dragons running multinational corporations (in fact, a dragon that will become president will appear very near where you live in 2012), a sasquatch will be the drummer of one of the greatest bands since the beatles, AR will be streamed live to your neural pathways as you walk down the street with your new Zeiss multiwavelength eyes, and [/geek diatribe]

    Yeah, eschatology is silly, unless it’s in a role playing game, then it’s fun.

  36. Bystander

    What exactly is the purpose of doomsaying? Why is extinction such a potent fear for so many people when the only evidence these people can come up with is “Well, alot of people think so.. so it must be true!”

    ….meanwhile, the world moves on.

  37. Grizzly

    Do you know what really burns my boat? When people call “Y2K” a hoax. I spent 5 years cleaning code in order that it not be a disaster for my company. 5 years. Jeebus people, it was one heck of a lot of work by thousands of dedicated professionals that ensured that Y2K was a non-event.

    Did some people hype it up? Sure. But that doesn’t invalidate the fact that expediency (space = $ in the ’60s) trumped and the 6 digit date was a real problem. If I hadn’t fixed the code we would not have been able to operate our company. Period.


  38. Kurt_eh

    Duane Says:
    “Of course the 2012 doomsday scenario is not going to happen. The Lizard people who really control the world will rise up before then and enslave us.”

    And we all know the Silurians are still quite unhappy that we now run the planet instead of them… 😉

  39. DaveS

    The first mention of the 2012 lunacy that I remember is the “Chariots of the Gods” stuff in the 1970s. I remember believing completely in it at the time (I was a kid, okay?) and what I remember is not the end of the world, but that the aliens are coming back on Christmas day of 2012, or something.

    I am ashamed.


  40. Mike

    As long as we’re on the topic of origins of the 2012 stuff, let’s not forget the new agers.. what I’m most familiar with is the nonsense of one spaced-out jungle trekker named Terrence McKenna who, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, talked about how he used formulas embedded within the I Ching and revealed to him by multi-dimensional gnomes whilst under the effects of ayahuasca and DMT to devise what he called his time wave zero theory in which fluctuations of ‘novelty’ (change) evident in history repeats itself exponentially on smaller and smaller scales until it all comes to a screeching halt on dec. 21, 2012. In fact I think he even gave a time.. something like 6:50am. What time zone that would be, I’m unsure. WW2 was a novel event, as was the extinction of the dinosaurs, you see.


    Yeah, we’re fine. I’m pretty sure WW2 and the extinction of the dinosaurs hasn’t happened a couple times over recently. Although maybe “These Hard Economic Times”(tm) might qualify.. it was pretty arbitrary.

    I think the point is that the 2012 lunacy has been around for some time. It’s just gaining volume now that it’s only 3 years away (and, of course, thanks to the movie — which, by the way, pays very little tribute to the actual lunacy and uses it solely as an excuse for awesome disaster porn).

  41. Michael Swanson

    Oh, you should definitely read the book. BUT READ IT SOON! THERE ISN’T MUCH TIME! :)

  42. Brian Schlosser

    @12 and 15: After 12/21/12, my guess is the next “Totally Real, Certain to Happen END OF THE WORLD®” will be the coming of 99942 Apophis on 4/13/2029. Thats soon enough to be scary, but long enough to really rake in the cash from the gullible. Remember, you heard it here first!

  43. cavalier

    If the Mayans knew so much about predicting the future how did their society collapse?

    I know I’m not the first person to point this out, but I’ve yet to hear an answer to it.

  44. SirDoc

    Jared, in reference to your comments here, first of all Mr Plait has in fact addressed the ‘waving flag’ issue.
    Secondly, and I hate to be the logical fallacy guy, but insisting we can’t disprove a coming global catastrophe is an appeal to ignorance and mentioning that there is a great deal of talk about a catastrophe is an appeal to the masses. The burden of proof is upon those with claim and if thousands, even millions, agree with you that still doesn’t provide us with any reason to believe similarly.

    Do you know what it really means when the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012?
    We need a new one. I was thinking puppies, maybe kittens.

  45. Gary Ansorge

    42. cavalier Says:

    Best guess today is that a major drought destroyed their ability to feed millions of people, so their society collapsed.

    GAry 7

  46. JimB

    Props to Grizzly!

    I worked on mainframes the first half of the 90’s and on pc’s/networks the last half of the 90’s. I put a lot of time and effort into making sure y2k was the non-event it was (at least in my little piece of the world).

  47. They did a feature on 2012 on the evening news last night, interviewing people on the street about whether they thought the world was going to end. Even the “mayan expert” had his interview edited so that he sounded more thoughtful about the question.
    I remember in eighth grade geography, we watched a movie about how the world was going to end in 2012 because the mayans said so.
    Look, people. I took one fracking class in Mayan-ness, and even I know that 2012 is just the end of the katun. It’s like the clock going from 23:59 to 0:00. It’s flopped over before, and it’s going to again, and somehow the world hasn’t ended yet. Not even the Mayans thought that the world ended on a new katun. Somebody just made this crap up.

  48. WetChet

    I’ll second that, Grizzly. I spent many years fixing our company’s code in preparation for Y2K — COBOL code from the 70’s. We PROVED in 1995 that our entire system would become inoperable on 1/1/00 if we didn’t fix it. Basically, we took one of our backup systems and changed the system date — total software breakdown. Oddly, I just spent 30 minutes last week trying to convince a fresh-out-of-college software guy that Y2K would have been a disaster if not for the Mighty Software Engineers (nevermind that we caused it in the first place).


  49. Gary

    2012 is going to be a bigger bust than Y2K and the moronic convergence of ’87 combined.

  50. Phil, no matter how much reason and logic you throw at me, I know I’m still going to be panicking come 12/21/2012. Because I am not gonna have my Christmas shopping done, and I know I won’t have time what with work and all.

    Besides, the End of Time is this Christmas.

  51. Russell

    Something I found comical is that the Mayan’s have many dates recorded for future events/commemorations that occur WELL after 2012. Seems like if the world was going to end, they’d have stopped worrying about notating future events. Of course it is all rubbish, and it is just the end of a calender cycle. One could even say Mayans were amateurs at having an end of the world calender. I have a calender on the wall right now that tells me everything is going to go tits up Dec 31st, 2009 😉

  52. Grizzly

    Wet Chet… that’s what my team did to prove to management that this was A BIG THING. We re-purposed one of our test mainframes and changed the date. I work for a railroad, and our train control systems failed, we wouldn’t have known where any train was or what it status was. Our payroll and financial systems failed. Our signals and controls systems failed… even “minor” things like our real estate applications took a holiday. The panic was palpable. If it weren’t for code jockeys this would have caused a major problem. So no props to me, but props to all who put in the time to make this a “non-event”.

    Did people make a buck on the scare? Yes. But it doesn’t diminish the fact that there was a very real problem.

  53. CR

    A very real, but FIXABLE problem. The doomsayers never seemed to highlight that important detail. Sure, it took a lot of hard work, but it was something that was known well in advance, and thanks to that hard work, was corrected before things ‘fell apart.’
    Funny, though, even as I watched worldwide celebrations on satellite tv, and noticed that rolling blackouts & utter chaos were NOT happening, there were still people in my town getting their guns & generators ready, and making ‘last minute’ calls to loved ones around the state & country, and generally scoffing at my confidence that nothing too bad would actually happen.
    Preparedness for any disaster is one thing… panic is another.
    Oh, and unless I missed it, nobody’s responded properly to the reptile thing yet: I, for one, welcome our new Reptilian Overlords. 😉

  54. 30. TechSkeptic Says:

    Well if Obama doesnt turn this economy around by then, there very well may be a political doomsday.

    Not for President Obama, he can’t run for a third term. Now, for the Democratic Presidential Candidate …

    33. Gary Ansorge Says:

    Or this year, as the LHC continues to ramp up(The possible detection of neutralinos is really exciting) and micro black holes eat the world

    Don’t be silly, it won’t create any micro black holes, we’ll all just ‘blank out’ for a couple minutes and see what’s happening to us twenty years in the future.


  55. he can’t run for a third term

    But…ah…Obama would be running for his second term in 2012.

    Or did you mean 21 Dec 2012 specifically?

  56. Travis

    I still somehow doubt that even if zero money and effort had been spent fixing the Y2K problem that it would have led to the extinction of Humans as soooooo many local survivalist radio stations were stating at the time. According them no amount of effort could stop the evil computers from turning all machines against their human masters on that night. Consequently I knew of several households that completely disconnected themselves from the electrical grid and had to be hooked back up a week into January. Another family was convinced the computers would somehow release a supervirus (of the biological variety) so they spent New Years huddled in a garage they outfitted with a positive pressure air filtration system.

  57. Keith

    A couple of song lyrics come to mind for this 2012 nonsense:

    “The hopeful depend on a world without end,
    Whatever the hopeless may say.”

    Rush, “Manhattan Project”

    “All around this great big world, all the crap we had to take…
    All the fear and suffering, all a big mistake!”

    Rush, “Heresy”

    Check out, it’s a great site dedicated to debunking this BS. Read Kat’s story when you get to the site, it will break your heart and make you angry, that children are being frightened into deep depression and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide.

  58. John

    Mmmmmm, the Post-Gazette… an island of light in Pittsburgh, where all other information is dominated by the crap that Trib Total Media propagates.

    Good pick for an interview, Phil.

  59. TheBlackCat

    It would be nice if the yahoos making money off the 2012 nonsense would send some of that to help the descendants of those self-same Mayans. As it is, they are royally pissed at their native traditions being twisted and exploited by the hucksters.

    Yeah, but they’re just ignorant savages, what do they know? 😉

    Of course, Y2K and 2012 are not problems, everyone knows the world will really end on January 19, 2038.

  60. Theron

    I’m an historian of Latin America (though very much not an expert on the Maya), and years back I used to joke about 2012 and the end of 13 Baktun to students who had no idea what I was talking about. Now I have to deal with this nonsense. You think you have a lot of myths and woo in science to debunk? Welcome to history, were eeeeeverrryone is an expert. Yippee!

  61. Damon

    I walked by a homeless guy on campus today, he was standing alone in the park-blocks ranting about the end of time on October 21st, which is funny because he had it wrong, it’s December 21st 2012, if we’re hopping on the wacko train. He said it was all our fault– by “our” I assume he meant us uppity latte-sipping liberal college-students– for being “shallow”. That’s all I heard. The point is, that’s the level these 2012-ers are operating on; standing by a fictional doomsday concept in a fictional film that drunkards are preaching in the street. Hmmm.

  62. 55. Naked Bunny with a Whip Says:

    he can’t run for a third term

    But…ah…Obama would be running for his second term in 2012.

    Man, I need to get over this insomnia……….


  63. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    @Romeo Vitelli

    That blog had a dead link. Here’s one that should work:

    Heh, there’s an astronomer in that article who insists that the “galactic alignment” won’t be very precise on the predicted date.

    Like anyone would believe an astronomer over the words of a New Age guru. (Sarcasm alert for the sarcasm-impaired.)

    Would you look at that, a reference to a History Channel show that makes the claim for a pole shift. Looks like the earth-changers got another chance to scam,…I mean voice their concerns. Apparently, the program in questions was done without the advice of a geologist or even a high school textbook on geology.

    As for a lot of “chatter” about 2012 meaning the “end of the world” is possible: the song “Everybody’s Free (To Use Sunscreen)” was very popular, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a pile of pig feces.

  64. Jake

    But … but in the movie … the scientist … [gasp] h- he said, he said … the “neutrinos mutated”…

    [shrieking, incontinent laughter]

  65. Strahlungsamt

    This whole 2012 nonsense was originally predicted by Terence McKenna using magic mushrooms. How come nobody quotes him anymore?

  66. Nice article.

    However, her fact-checking is a bit off: she cites your website as Sure, it redirects, but…


  67. Nigel Depledge

    Sir Doc (44) said:

    Do you know what it really means when the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012?
    We need a new one. I was thinking puppies, maybe kittens.

    Daleks. You need daleks on your calendar.

  68. I’ll probably see “2012” only because I’m a sucker for spectacular special effects, but I know I’ll hate myself afterwards. That people take all this Mayan calendar mumbo-jumbo seriously is downright embarrassing.

    Why? Because there is no such thing as prophecy. Of course, there is such a thing as what we call “self-fulfilling prophecy” … that is, a prediction that is so broadly-phrased that, given enough time, SOMETHING will occur that will fit the bill. Someone solemnly says, “One day a man will come who will lead our people out of bondage!” And given enough time, some guy may eventually come along who matches that description well enough. This is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    And of course it’s those rare prophecies that DO fulfill themselves that are remembered and celebrated for ages afterwards … whereas the majority of prophecies that are NOT fulfilled are subsequently, conveniently FORGOTTEN.

    But prophecy in a supernatural sense? No such thing.

  69. DennyMo

    20. TomHandy Says:
    “So, what is the next big thing people are going to freak out about?”

    While we were fixing the Y2K problem at work, one of my coworkers commented, “If folks think this is bad, wait’ll the GPS satellites reset their clock counters in 20__.” I don’t remember what year it was supposed to be…

  70. Great post. I addressed this thing on my blog and in my research discovered that the Mayan calendar didn’t end in 2012 any more than the Gregorian calendar ends on December 31 every year. It’s just a division of the world into various periods (granted, these are longer than years, but it’s the same principle).

  71. TheBlackCat

    @ DennyMo: 2038. That is when the 32-bit dates used in 32-bit computer systems using Unix time roll over (which isn’t just Unix-based systems, lots of other operating systems use the same time format). This isn’t just a programming convention, it is a fundamental limit of 32-bit processors as they are currently used (it is possible, but very difficult, to work around the problem). Things will start getting ugly in 2018, though, when calculations involving 20-year mortgages start rolling over.

  72. This Monday’s Brewster Rockit deals with the Mayan calendar/2012 thing perfectly:

    In fact, the whole week seems devoted to the whole “World’s Gonna End” nonsense.

  73. Carlos

    @20 What’s the next big thing? I’m betting on 2033 (or 2029). Easter has always been the most important holiday in the Christian tradition – NOT Christmas. In fact the whole basis for Christianity is Jesus’ resurrection – NOT his birth. Christmas seems more important purely because of the commercial aspects linked to it.

    Thus, it would make sense that opportunistic fools would focus on a second coming 2000 years after the DEATH (and Resurrection) of Jesus, especially since 2000 after His birth turned out to be a dud. That puts the next end of the world in 2033, if you follow common tradition that Jesus was 33 on his crusifiction (or 2029 if you believe he was actually born in 4BC).

    Of course most, if not all, mainstream Christian religions don’t subscribe to this view – but that won’t stop the crazies from bringing it up.

  74. Gary Ansorge

    54. John Paradox

    “Don’t be silly, it won’t create any micro black holes, we’ll all just ‘blank out’ for a couple minutes and see what’s happening to us twenty years in the future.

    Hey, I LIKE Flash Forward. It’s so much fun, seeing people squirm because they really don’t know what sequence of steps will lead to their particular(perceived) future. Fer example, if we all suddenly “saw” our futures 20 years down the line, how could we not know that observation was itself the principal progenitor of the resultant future?

    Ah, SciFi, so much fun.

    As afar as Y2K was concerned, I like to think of that as the Cassandra effect. If you listen to the dire prediction and take appropriate preventative steps, (like vaccinating) then it won’t happen, so it might appear to be bogus however, if you DON’T listen,(ignore Cassandra) then it WILL happen and later you can lay blame on those “responsible” for the catastrophe,,,

    Ah, the convolutions of anticipation. Aren’t we lucky to have these big, frontal lobes?

    Gary 7
    PS. I recall(vaguely) some ST:NG characters that had their success measured by the size of their “lobes”. We should be so lucky,,,

  75. Sadly, all the hard work of the people who fixed the Y2K bugs before they caused problems gets ignored. Instead, people lump Y2K in with the “dire predictions that didn’t come true.” Yes, there were those who took it too far. (My aunt was one of the ones who went nutty filling up her tub with drinkable water and stockpiling food for when the world plunged into chaos.) Most of us, though, realized that Y2K was a problem, but not a world-ending one. If it hadn’t been fixed, there would have been a financial crisis, but we would have worked through it (with some difficulty). Thanks to everyone who worked long hours fixing the code before it became a problem.

  76. Bouch

    Hi there,

    On MSN’s front page about 5 minutes ago, there was a link about “should you fear 2012”. I clicked and was brought here:

    The author is Sam Geppi, who is “a Vedic astrologer, teacher, and writer in San Francisco. He is the only Vedic astrologer of note researching and discussing the current Global shifts and 2012.”

    Read it for a good laugh. At least he says the world will NOT end 😉

  77. 72. Gary Ansorge Says:

    Hey, I LIKE Flash Forward. It’s so much fun, seeing people squirm because they really don’t know what sequence of steps will lead to their particular(perceived) future. Fer example, if we all suddenly “saw” our futures 20 years down the line, how could we not know that observation was itself the principal progenitor of the resultant future?

    I read the original book after I discovered Sawyer’s books, and am watching the TV series (okay, DVRing it… along with Heroes, V, Mythbusters, NUMB3RS and the two Very Bad Movies that are on midnight Sat/Sun). I tend to head to three sections at the Library or bookstores: SciFi (some Fantasy), Science, and Video/DVD’s (again, lots of SciFi, such as the classic The Blob that I currently have checked out)

    Ah, SciFi, so much fun.

    When I started reading (about age 4), I discovered this strange area in the Public Library (or, as I call it on Political Blogs “Socialist Bookstore”) where these really interesting books about space, the future, and other ideas were kept. Of course, that led to the Dewey 500’s and 600’s in nonfiction…..

    Ah, the convolutions of anticipation. Aren’t we lucky to have these big, frontal lobes?

    Gary 7
    PS. I recall(vaguely) some ST:NG characters that had their success measured by the size of their “lobes”. We should be so lucky,,,

    Ferengi… it was ear lobes…. :(

    Oh, great FSM, I haven’t been asleep since my original post….. but I DID get the Isaac Asimov created series PROBE dubbed from VHS.


  78. Echoing what everyone is saying about the hard work that went into fixing the Y2k problem before it became a crisis…

    It seems to me this is a perfect example of the difference between rational and irrational people. Rational people identify an issue and set out to deal with it based upon a reasoned plan of action. Irrational people become fixated on hype, rather than fact, sensationalism rather than common sense, and end up doing nothing but promoting silliness.

    This is perfectly exemplified by so-called news media that are presenting free advertising for a piece of entertainment as if it were news, and in the process proving yet again that they, themselves are nothing but entertainment and certainly not valid journalism. The J-school graduate in me cringes at this nonsensical waste of bandwidth. Why does the FCC continue to renew the licenses of these bozotrons?

    Oh, yeah. The u$ual an$wer.

  79. Gary Ansorge

    74. John Paradox

    Ah yes. FERENGI. How could I forget(did you know the word Farengi is Thai for Stranger?)
    I thought the reference to “lobes” had to do with their big frontal domes, not their earlobes. Silly me,,,

    Gary 7

  80. Robert Gurskey

    >Re Y2K
    I helped fix some State Department software in 1985 to handle this problem. We did have a few people who were looking ahead.

    Also, on Jan 1, 2000 I ordered a pizza from Domino’s for home delivery. They asked for my address, which they usually didn’t because of their telephone #/address db. When I asked why he wanted my address, the clerk said sheepishly that they had experienced a Y2K problem. So I guess it did affect some businesses.

  81. DaveS

    As far as Y2K, one thing I can say from personal professional experience is that mobile phones would have stopped working, if nothing had been done. It wasn’t just ancient COBOL programs that had problems, it was ANY system designed without the Y2K problem in mind, even right up to the date. Much, much, much effort ($) was expended to fix the very real problem, in all areas of our very computerized world.

    I was living in Southern California at the time, and my knowledge of the Y2K problem in mobile phone base-sites prompted me to get an American Red Cross book on Emergency Preparedness, which prompted me to get a 55gal drum of emergency potable water, a 3-day transportable supply of food, medicine and clothing, and a few other things.

    The bug-out bag turned out really useful when a few years later they evacuated us to the stadium, due to fires.

  82. coolstar

    According to my students, they actually PRONOUNCE the word “neutrino” correctly in the movie, and that’s as close as they come to getting any science correct.
    My bet is $1000 dollars at 10 to 1 odds. Funny haven’t gotten anyone to take it yet……
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the BA actually LIKES the movie though! Anthony Aveni IS a nice guy though, and a fine writer.

  83. If Sarah Palin runs and is elected President in 2012, then I have no doubt that the end of the world is at hand.

  84. Buzz Parsec

    Yup, Y2K required lots of fixit work. Not nearly as much for me as for many posters, my company (25 people) probably put about 2 person-years into it. Still had one bug crop up, a report header that said Jan. 1, 19100. Ugh! I though we had caught all those.

    As for 2038, that is *not* an inescapable consequence of 32-bit hardware. It is entirely and completely a software problem, and is fixable, one bug at a time, by converting to a longer time type, and by doing proper type checking in your programs. (Those of us who don’t use C and/or Unix don’t even have to think about it.) Oh, and 16-bit Unix has the same problem, it’s not a hardware issue.

    On the 3rd hand, if Sarah Palin is elected, no one will have to worry about it… :-( :-(

  85. no one can predicted when the end of the world,.even maya’s that life thousands ago or scientist 1000 years later.
    the movie,2012 still cant imagine what the situation of the end of world.
    theres is about 57 sign and 27 of them shown today. the most big sign is when the sun rise on the place its down,from the west to east.
    end of the world not only destroy of the earth and destroyed of any life in it. but end of the world is more horrified than it.all we know on space,planets,star,galaxies,and the far-far galaxies that photographed with hubble ultra deep field will all destroyed.
    the end of the world is end of the universe. FROM NOTHING TO BE NOTHING…!!!

  86. 85. Buzz Parsec Says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    As for 2038, that is *not* an inescapable consequence of 32-bit hardware. It is entirely and completely a software problem, and is fixable, one bug at a time, by converting to a longer time type, and by doing proper type checking in your programs.

    Oh, sure. Great plan. Just use a 64-bit integer and punt the problem down the field until the year 292,277,026,596 AD. Leave it for future generations to solve, why don’t ya?

  87. maladorus_fuzzy.

    I can predict when the world will end – in about 5 billion years. The sun will enter its red giant phase and *munch*

    Did see the movie. Entertaining fluff if you turn your brain off. Vivid CGI scenes. Being single in marital status in the movie is a bad career move.

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Jeez, it’s at times like this we really need someone to write a book about the scientific angle on the end of the world, or at least the ways in which it might end.

  89. MadScientist

    Loons predict the end of the world pretty much every year. I wonder if it started with a certain cult with its head office in Rome or if there are older prophecies of the end of the world. If the ancient Maya actually wrote out calendars to around this date I’d be surprised (it would show that someone was very bored). The descendants of the ancient Maya are still around and they use the Gregorian calendar. I haven’t heard any of them claiming that the world will end. Thanks for the tip – I’ll look for the book (though I doubt I’ll find it – still no sign of DFTS here).

  90. MJBUtah

    There actually was someone in the ladies room after the movie (yes, I went and saw it. It was my husband’s birthday and he got to pick the movie) who kept talking to her friend like it was real, and she was worried what she was going to do, etc. I was flabbergasted.

    The calendar in my kitchen ends in June 2010. My world is apparently ending sooner than everyone else’s.

  91. TheBlackCat

    @ MadScientist: I am pretty sure even in the Abrahamic tradition there were a number of apocalyptic cults well-predating Christianity. In fact I am under the impression that a lot of (if not all) the apocalyptic stuff in the Bible was simply copied from earlier Jewish apocalyptic cults and prophecies. Actually I don’t think much, if anything, in the Bible or Christian tradition is actually original. Most of it is borrowed from popular Judaism at the time (but which has since been rejected by both Jewish and Christian authorities) and competing religions in the Mediterranean (such as Mithraism).

  92. Greg in Austin

    You’re reading a book?



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