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A few days ago, I made an offer to anyone who thought there might be something to predictions yesterday was doomsday. I would post today admitting the world ended, assuming I was alive and there was an internet I could use, and taking all the humiliation that goes with being so wrong about something so big as the end of the world. The condition was that if the world didn't end, those who believed it might or that maybe there was just something to it because who really knows or whatever, would come here on the 22nd where I would get to ask them to think about --- how they think.

I meant it when I said I would try not be mocking, though I'm only promising to try, and I might be failing right away when I point out that I wrote this at the same time I wrote the offer, and no, I didn't draft an admission I was wrong. Didn't see a point. Maybe the really bad news for those of you who gave the doomsday prophecy credence isn't that it didn't happen, but many of us (most? I don't know) never fell for it even an instant. That's how easy it was to see through, and I ask you to ask yourself why you weren't among those who saw through it.

The usual way of knocking down the ancient Mayan prophecy of the world coming to an end is to point out that they didn't make such a prophecy, and yes, that is the case. Their calendar ran out. Maybe they thought there would be the end of a cycle of time with substantial changes happening, but basically, it wasn't any different than thinking the world was going to end because your 2012 calendar doesn't include 2013.

Still, let's pretend the claims the ancient Mayans predicted the end of the world were true. You believed them ... why?

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have listened because the ancient Mayans were stupid. Obviously they weren't stupid. They invented their own system of writing, constructed pyramids without help from Egyptians or anyone else, and figured out enough astronomy to make their calendar. Stupid people don't do those things. Still, does any of that suggest they had some connection to astrology or the spirit world or whatever that would let them make a reliable prediction about the future? They didn't even predict the disaster that ended their own civilization, yet you thought maybe they predicted the end of everybody's civilizations?

If you did, I know what you're going to say next, which means I'm a mindreader. Either that, or I'm making an educated guess as to the next argument. Wasn't there a bunch of geological and astronomical phenomena that was supposed to happen and bring about disaster? Yes, except, it wasn't actually ever going to happen, or it happens regularly and predictably. No three ways about it. You could have checked with NASA, which employs actual scientists, and which received so many inquiries from so many scared people that it felt it necessary to post a debunking. I'm sure there are others, but NASA pretty much has it covered. For example,

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the Earth's crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?

    A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. Scientists believe a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia.

In other words, hearing about some scary-sounding phenomenon, it wasn't hard to check it out. There was no excuse for being unsure.

If you're someone with that strange psychological need for doomsday, good news, the world will end. Definitely. No survivors, not even cockroaches and bacteria, in roughly 3.5 billion years, assuming no asteroid collisions or deathstar attacks until then. The sun will burn up its hydrogen supply, get started on the helium, and turn into a red giant, expanding its size to close to Earth's orbit. This will turn us into a big Mercury, blowing away our ocean, our atmosphere, and Superman's powers*.

If you were a 2012 believer or maybe-er, and you're the progressive sort that generally hangs around this site, seriously, think about the laughs we get at the expense of conservatives. I'm referring to their denial of global warming, evolution, the separation of church and state, urban voters voting only once ... well, pretty much the modern world. Turn that back around. We may not be as prone to conspiracy theories or superstition or whatever, but are you clear of it yourself? Next time you ask why they don't just look at the evidence, just ask, are there instances where I'm believing Bogus Stuff and not looking at the evidence?

Of course, that's one hardship of being part of the reality-based community. You have to ask yourself that question constantly.

*Yes, I know Superman isn't real, thanks for asking. I know comic book characters aren't real. Except Batman. I think Batman is real. I need for Batman to be real ... please.

Originally posted to ericf on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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