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Industry Insight

Armageddon Postponed

Today is Friday the 13th.

By Richard Romano
Published: January 13, 2012

Today is Friday the 13th. Not that I think that means anything special; I just thought I’d point that out. But it does seem a vaguely apt date to write about the end of the world. Or, in other words, fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy year. Remember last year, when doomsday was repeatedly postponed—it was initially scheduled for May 21, 2011, then was put off until October 21. If you’re reading this, you know it was staved off again. Previous doomsdays have been predicted for 1000, 1844, 1994, 2000 (remember Y2K?), etc. etc. etc., and they’ve always been delayed. It’s kind of like if Amtrak ran doomsday. For the past few years, it’s been believed that 2012 will be the real doomsday—although it is actually been causing the reverse of doomsday for the book publishing industry, exemplified in this Amazon Listmania! called, amusingly, “Top 10 Reputable Books about the 2012 Shift and Prophecy.” “Reputable.” Uh huh. The so-called “end of the world” is said to be coming on December 21, 2012 (what is it with the number 21?), and whilst I am happy that it would mean I can avoid Christmas shopping, I’m going to go out on a limb and insist that we will all still be here in January, although I think I’ll schedule any dentist appointments for January 2013, so at least there will be an upside if the world does in fact end. One of the sources of the latest doomsday mania comes from the fact that the Mayan calendar ends in December. Apparently, this is supposed to herald the end of the world. I don’t know; my Finch Paper 2012 calendar ends in December and I’m not especially worried; if I play my cards right, I’ll get another one for 2013. There is also concern about a non-existent planet called Nibiru heading toward us. Sorry, Melancholia was just a movie. NASA has gone to great lengths to debunk this one. International Business Times has a round up of the 10 weirdest end-of-the-world predictions for 2012. I like the one that says that “Lord Kalki, or the destructive incarnation of Lord Vishnu, will degenerate the Earth.” I have no idea what that means, but it could be fun. Now, it’s easy to poke fun at all of this, but it’s not all a barrel of laughs, and there is one level on which these so-called “prophecies” need to be taken seriously. I was at a science conference last October and one of the sessions was conducted by Dr. David Morrison, who writes NASA’s “Ask an Astrobiologist” Web site, and is NASA’s most vocal doomsday debunker. He remarked that he has received thousands of letters about these doomsday predictions—including some from teenagers who were considering killing themselves, and mothers who were contemplating killing their children and themselves so they wouldn’t have to suffer. That is far scarier than any doomsday prediction.

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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