Charlie debunks 2012 nonsense

By Phil Plait | April 2, 2012 1:00 pm

Charlie McDonnell — who is still adorable — does a bang-up job debunking the big claims of the 2012 doomsday predictions.

I know, he posted this back at New Year’s, but I’m a bit behind on watching videos. Sue me. I’m free on December 22.

Tip o’ the bomb shelter door to Tommy V.


Comments (28)

  1. ZenCharlie If really want to know what is coming at us.

  2. Shaun

    I had to watch that video twice. The first time I spent the whole time thinking “What? December has 31 days!” So I missed everything else he said.

  3. Speaking of Doom’s Day Cults (and not reporting on a topic): You have been so quiet on the topic, so I have to ask whether you have seen the nice developments regarding Peter Gleick? Oh well, I guess it’ll have to wait until December 23rd before I read a follow-up to your initial blog-posts.

  4. Ardy

    What’s a Beiber?

  5. artbot

    These “There’s no Doomsday” videos are becoming quite tiresome. After the awesome one from CGPGray (, there really is no need for any more.

    It’s frustrating that they will never go away & they will always be wrong, but there’s little or no danger of them being used to influence national policy or education standards. It just seems like trolling, and the science/atheist/skeptic community gets all worked up for no reason. Much like moon hoaxers, they are stupid, but not really doing any harm other than being annoying. So why does there always seem to be an endless battle raging between these idiots and people who know better?

  6. Crux Australis

    He’s like a young Brian cox! Shame about that “December 30th” mistake.

  7. Sili

    I’m free on December 22.

    You’re not going of the End of the World Cruise?

  8. Derek

    December 30 is what the Beiber calendar reads AFAICTell. So maybe Justin is on to something.

  9. HvP

    At least Charlie does point out that the Dec 30 mistake on the calendar is wrong at the end.

    Also, who else noticed his Cassini image on the monitor behind him? Cool kid:)

  10. Buxley

    Great video. Oh and the “December 30th mistake” wasn’t Charlie McDonnell’s. Watch the video through to the end to see the *real* culprit. =)


  11. Trebuchet

    Hah. That’s what THEY want you to think. He’s obviously a paid NASA shill, disinfo agent, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

    Pretty cool kid. I was SO glad he mentioned the 30 days in December thing, I was rather worried that he hadn’t noticed. Perhaps it’s only 30 days in Canada or something.

  12. Wzrd1

    He is SO wrong! Why, EVERYONE knows that the world of 2012 will end!
    One second after 23:59:59, 31-December-2012.
    Of course, that is the time that the new world, the world of 2013 will begin.
    And a hell of a lot of idiots will wake up to meet that brave new world, also known as a year, with really bad hangovers.
    He only made one small error, there IS a REAL possibility that some damage may occur with a massive CME (which too many people refer to as a flare, though SOME flares can also cause the same damage), there might well be, will probably be, significant damage to a satellite in orbit. A really expensive one, as all tend to be. 😉
    Knowing MY luck, it’ll happen in the middle of a REALLY COOL episode of Doctor Who that never airs again…

    Now, if anyone REALLY wants the world to end, kindly pull my finger.
    Of note, THAT joke is known globally. It just shows how much we ALL have in common!

  13. AliCali

    @5 Artbot

    It seems you’re asking why the scientific et al community gets worked up over these end of the world claims. Perhaps you should read this post:

    Also, in 2003 when Planet X was going to hit, people sold their home and alienated family because they truly believed it. Remember the end of the world craze last year from some religious guy? People spent their savings to travel because they thought everything was going to end.

    This site comes up pretty high on search lists. The more Dr. Plait can post about these topics, the more people he can save when they do a general search for information, read his post, and hopefully realize that end of world predictions are a bunch of crap.

    The scientific et al community needs to be worked up over this and needs to keep putting out information debunking the crap. The true believers might not be swayed, but imagine the many, many more who don’t know whether it’s true or not and search the internet.

  14. Jon Hanford

    Hey, while Charlie’s taking on the 2012 flapdoodle, real astronomers, like Phil, are doing their part to bust other popular myths like the Tooth Fairy (really). Eve Armstrong has a recent (April 1) paper concerning the “Non-detection of the Tooth Fairy at Optical Wavelengths” based on observations with the 1.3 meter McGraw-Hill telescope at the MDM Observatory:

    Although the paper is rather straightforward (and follow-up observations seem to be warranted) some highlights include:

    1.) The Tooth Fairy was not detected to a limiting magnitude of V=18.4.

    2.) Details of the possible photometric detection of a mosquito are discussed.

    3.) A superluminal Tooth Fairy scenario is considered.

    4.) “This research was funded by quarters pilfered from the snack machine up at the Kitt Peak Visitors’ Center.” The way a lot of research gets funded these days 😉

    And, most important, Figure 1 has “Common depictions of the Tooth Fairy” (although The Rock is conspicuously absent here. Subluminous?).

    [kudos to EA – looking forward to those follow-up observations!]

  15. Messier Tidy Upper

    Good talk -some neat & very true lines in it – Cheers. :-)

    I *almost* can’t wait for 2013 New Years Day when this will all end – the end of the end of the world in 2012 nonsense!

    Except :

    I) It’ll only start up again for some other year with another spurious Teh End is Nighmoney-making scare based on some rubbish or other. (Anyone want to take bets on which year will be chosen next & why?) :roll:

    II) The years keep rocketing by far too quickly anyhow as I get ever older. Sigh.

    & III) I’m sure I’ll be pretty hung-over on New Year’s Day as is traditional – so make that the second or third of Jan 2013 instead! 😉

    (I’m getting older but not that old yet!)

  16. bassmanpete

    The 31st is there; it’s on the extreme left of the top line of dates. I don’t understand how he could have missed it – or am I missing something here?

  17. JB of Brisbane

    SURVIVAL KITS??? Seriously? How do you make a survival kit for the END OF THE FRAKKIN’ WORLD?
    Also bassmanpete makes a good point – American calendars piggyback the last days of the month on the week before if there isn’t room on the five lines. Where I live, the overflow gets moved to the top left, on the same line as the 1.

  18. Michael G

    It’s worth noting that the Mayan calendar did not take leap years into account so it ended quite a few years ago. The doomsdayers don’t seem to have taken that into account.


  19. wolfy

    Actually the Mayans created and used thier calendars to keep track of time and astronomical events. They did make predictions and this idiots information is wrong. Worst debunking video I seen.

  20. VinceRN

    I think debunking gives these clowns too much recognition. If a few wingnuts believe that a calender made by people who couldn’t find their way out of the stone age points to the end of the world there is little we can do to change their mind. Most people that seriously believe this stuff also believe that the Calender comes from ancient aliens from another dimension. The proper response when confronted with these beliefs is to chuckle and move on. Efforts at convincing these people of anything real will meet with as much success at that guy from LaMancha had with the windmill.

  21. MRUTTY

    he sure waves his arms around a lot.

  22. Calli Arcale

    The calendar makers probably figured that adding one more day would screw up the formatting, and anyway everybody would be too drunk to notice that the last day of the year was missing. Either that, or they already *were* too drunk to notice.

  23. Adorable accent + a unicycle in the background = I’m dropping Brian Cox and adopting this guy as my new heartthrob.

  24. mike burkhart

    The world will not end in 2012, the Bible dose not give a date for the end of the world nor dose nostradamus ( in fact with his qurtrains you can read anaything in to them ) Off Topic: At a Goodwill book store I found a book Phil needs to read and debunk . It called the “The hand book of evolution” the author uses junk science to trash the theory of evolution and the big bang theory now he is not a Creationist , there is not one mention of Religon in this book but the arguments he makes are pure bunk. Phil we need you.

  25. Mike

    A couple points.

    First, it is more accurate to say that some horrible devastating tragedy might happen in 2012, but the odds of it happening on Dec 21, 2012 are no different than they are for April 13, 1997 or August 21st, 2053 or any other day of any other year. This is a dangerous universe, after all. =] The point is nobody can predict such a thing.

    Second, his origin-of-the-prophecy story isn’t quite true. I have recordings of a drug-addled nut from the 80s named Terrence McKenna talking about his prediction that, as he put it, history would end on Dec. 21, 2012. He developed some algorithm based on the I Ching and the Mayan calendar and even worked in the KT extinction event, WW2 and aliens (which he figured were actually hallucinations caused by Mother Gaia) somehow. That was in the 80s and I’d wager that even he wasn’t the originator of the idea. 2012 doomsday prophecies were certainly not originated by those looking for the next one after 2003. I’d question whether the groups even consist largely of the same people. We tend to say things like “the doomsdayers moved on from 2003 to 2012,” but did they really?

    I have fond memories of the 2003 non-event. I spent that night in the IRC room for the doomsday cult who had gotten notoriety surrounding it, watching throughout the night with the dozens/hundreds of trolls who also descended on it. Fun times.

  26. vic

    The alignment of the earth and sun with the center of the galaxy is very troubling. Sure, like Charlie says, it happens every year, and we’re still here. Doesn’t that just make it more certain?

    And if I just put one more quarter in the slot machine, I’m sure I’ll hit that jackpot…

  27. Nigel Depledge

    JB of Brisbane (17) said:

    SURVIVAL KITS??? Seriously? How do you make a survival kit for the END OF THE FRAKKIN’ WORLD?

    Two thoughts occur to me about what this “kit” might be.

    1. It’s a Golgafrinchan “B”-Ark, or
    2. It’s a planet. A copy of Earth made from the original blueprints.

    Of course, either way, it’s not very portable. You certainly wouldn’t, for example, get through airport security carrying one.

  28. So,..when you look at sky map with actuall relative positions of comets, asteroids heading toward Earth
    you see the most of them, the brightest ones flying to us from area right to Orion, to Pleiades, Hyades,…asteroids go to us from left side of Orion,…positions like hot spots from Milagro cosmic ray survay for Autumn Spring equinoxes,…I don’t see Nibiru,..but,..


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