People have an eerie attraction to the idea of the apocalypse. The theme recurs all over popular culture: in video games, movies, and science fiction novels. According to Jean Baudrillard, all people subconsciously desire some kind of cultural breakdown: “Allergy to any definitive order, to any definitive power is– happily– universal” (From his book The Spirit of Terrorism page 6). This idea certainly explains our culture’s fascination with the end of the world. With the approach of the year 2012, theories about global destruction and the end of mankind abound. Interestingly enough, many legitimately believe these theories.
The most absurd idea that I found was the idea of WebBots predicting the end of the world on December 2012. This article from the Telegraph gave me a lead to the actual WebBot predictions. These Bots analyze internet chatter to form their miniature prophecies about the future. Apparently, the WebBots have predicted many major world events in the past: stock market crashes, Hurricane Katrina, and even the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With this track record, the prediction about the end of the world must come true…right? Unfortunately, there is a major lack of evidence supporting the credibility of these predictions. It is plausible that web chatter predicted the stock market crashes and terrorist attacks–these are manmade issues. It is also possible that web chatter predicted the hurricane–plenty of people analyze weather patterns and probably mentioned them on the web. I’m sure there is plenty of web chatter regarding the end of the world on December 21, 2012, but the chatter is only there because this is the date on which the Mayan Calendar is rumored to predict the end of the world. Millions of people talk about this occurrence on the web–but it is all speculation.
Another proponent of impending doom is a preacher named Harold Camping. His website cites Biblical passages and interprets them in manipulative ways in order to convince readers that the exact date of judgement day is predictable. He believes that the end of the world will come before we even reach the year 2012. The current date he expects is October 21, 2011. However, this is the third time that Mr. Camping has claimed to know the exact date of the rapture/second-coming/apocalypse. His first attempt was in 1994. When his prediction failed to come true, he claimed that he had made a mathematical error in analyzing the Biblical prophecies. He moved the date to May 21, 2011. Still, his prediction was wrong–so he claimed another mathematical error and finalized the date to October 21. He expects his followers to sell all their possessions and devote their lives to spreading his message; his aim is to “convert” as many as he can before it is too late. Camping’s credibility is lacking, seeing as he has been wrong more than once. His interpretations of Biblical passages are not widely accepted by leading Biblical scholars. Also, he does have financial incentives: his followers donate plenty of money to the “cause.” Therefore, his motives are questionable and his claims probably shouldn’t be taken seriously.
This website was the most comprehensive compilation of 2012 theories that I came across. It cited many theories from antiquity to modernity. It contains a good explanation of the Mayan calendar as well as more conventional interpretations of Biblical passages. The site also cites studies from NASA that the asteroid Eros will be close to earth in January of 2012. This asteroid will decimate the planet if it hits.
The site doesn’t really give any suggestions as to what we should do to prepare for the impending apocalypse; rather it provides a timeline of the predicted catastrophic events in 2012 and questions which of these will be the real apocalypse. The evidence presented on this website is by far the most plausible, especially because it is the only source I came across with theories backed up by scientific studies. Nevertheless, science is not foolproof, so these ideas are not necessarily indicative of the events that will actually take place in 2012.
Even after investigating the apocalyptic theories related to 2012, I’m not really more convinced than I was before. The first two sources do not have any credible evidence to support their claims; the third source is extremely interesting but still leaves room for skepticism. The world may end in 2012, or it may not. It is highly likely that people are worried for nothing, similar to the Y2K scare that came with the new millennium. Humans are drawn to sensationalism; it seems to be part of our nature. Earth and the sun are deteriorating, so an end is possible, but the likelihood of it occurring on specific dates in the year 2012 is not high.
If I knew the world were definitely going to end in 2012, I would probably drop out of college–I wouldn’t want to waste my whole life in school. I would want to accomplish something meaningful before the earth is obliterated. Also, I would start working through my bucket list and make sure to go through with all of it, sparing no expense. And honestly, I’d probably spend the last day on earth having a huge party with all of my friends and family–we’d blast Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends,” naturally.