The sky will not fall Friday

The sky will not fall Friday

December 20th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Tourists get their picture taken Saturday next to a slab of stone counting down the days until Dec. 21, 2012 at the Xcaret theme park in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Have you said your prayers and kissed your family good-bye?

Are your closets stocked with bottled water, flashlights, Twinkies, Spam and enough guns and ammo to fight off zombies and survive for months in a lifeless, dystopian landscape?

If not, you'd better hurry! Today is Dec. 20, 2012. That means the apocalypse is less than 24 hours away according to the doomsday theorists who claim that Mayans predicted the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012.

Thankfully, reports of the Earth's demise have been greatly exaggerated. No reputable archeologist, geologist, Mayan scholar, astronomer or proctologist, for that matter, actually believes doomsday is tomorrow.

The notion that the world will end tomorrow came about when it was calculated that the Mayan "long count" calendar comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012. The long count calendar calculates a huge cycle of time, which comes out to be about 5,125 years. When scholars converted the long count calendar into our modern Gregorian calendar, they discovered that the last cycle began Aug. 13, 3114 B.C., and ends on Dec. 21st, 2012.

Just because tomorrow is the last day of the long count calendar doesn't mean that the world will end, thankfully. It simply means that a new cycle begins - just like we'll throw out our old wall calendars on Jan. 1 and begin a new cycle ourselves.

To make the matter more embarrassing for dimwitted doomsday prophets, it turns out that Dec. 21, 2012, isn't actually even the correct final day of this cycle of Mayan time measurement. Scholars calculating the day that the Mayan long count cycle would end were off a few weeks. The actual cycle concluded on Nov. 27 of this year. According to Mayan calendar alarmists, the world should've actually ended the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But we're still here.

So if the world won't actually end tomorrow (and it won't), who would want to spread such a bunch of preposterous baloney and work people into a terrorized tizzy?

The answer is José Argüelles, a New Age artist and environmentalist with a Ph.D. in art history. Argüelles, who also co-founded Earth Day, saw an opportunity to make a quick buck off of New Age devotees by writing a book - Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology - that linked outlandish doomsday prophesies to the Mayan calendar.

Argüelles died on March 23, 2011, sparing himself the embarrassment of being alive when Dec. 21, 2012, came and went without incident.

While Argüelles is dead, other revolting hucksters like Argüelles are alive and well today, attempting to capitalize on bogus end of the world claims by selling survival kits, emergency supplies and religious paraphernalia to the gullible. A quick Google search reveals Mayan calendar survival kits and doomsday "shields" on last-minute sales.

Sadly, as long as there are people willing to shell out money to snake oil salesmen and doomsday prophets, these absurd end-of-the-world prophesies will continue to pop up. The only way to defeat them is to rely on science and reason and to explain that, yes, the world will eventually end.

It will end when the sun burns through all of its hydrogen fuel in about 5 billion years.