17 December 2012

Another five days until nothing much happens

Posted by Callan Bentley

Here we go again.

Another warning of an apocalypse that won’t happen. Thank goodness Erik already covered why the world won’t end this weekend, so I don’t have to be bothered writing it up.

Want to hear about the “Mayan Apocalypse” from Mayans? Try this discussion at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Not only is the idea of a Mayan doomsday scientifically unsound, it doesn’t accord with the actual ethos of the purported promulgators, either.

Mayans didn’t call for apocalypse on Friday. Scientists have found no reason to expect apocalypse on Friday. The only people warning about apocalypse on Friday are cranks, frauds, or the folks who have been convinced by the frauds and cranks into a state of pseudoscientific delusion. Saturday morning will roll around, and things will be pretty much the same, and the twits will pick a new date, and built up a new mythology to support why the next one will be the really real one.

And even that won’t be the last time, I’m afraid. The end of the world comes and goes. The more things go apocalyptic, the more they stay the same.

Why does our civilization keep believing in these stupid ideas? There are plenty of real things that could disrupt or end a civilization: meteor impact, the eruption of a new large igneous province, ecobiological collapse, nuclear war, and a an pandemic of relentlessly deadly infectious disease are five obvious, real examples that come immediately to mind. The stress our civilization is enduring due to the rise of extreme weather events is expected to increased with continuing human-initiated changes to Earth’s climate, yet the nonexistent “Mayan apocalypse” gets far more attention. Our culture ignores what’s physically real, and zeroes in on fakery and sham.

The exception to that rule seems to be last Friday’s mass murder of elementary school children in Connecticut. That seems to finally have got everyone’s attention. To judge by the conversations I’ve been hearing over the past few days, American society has focused on a very real problem, and it seems to me that we’re starting to talk about what we’re going to do about it. We’ll see… I hope so.