Note: This blog post has been updated with recent, new information.

Believe it or not — and yes, I know this runs contrary to what you hear from cranks like George Noory about the year 2012 — that year will not be the end of the world; the Maya did not predict this at all. Not even close! The truth of what the Maya thought is very different from the New Agey, pseudoscientific doomspeak you hear, and the Maya themselves are a bit annoyed, as the (UK) Telegraph reports (WebCite cached article):

2012 is not the end of the world, Mayan elder insists

The year 2012 will not bring the end of the world, a Mayan elder has insisted, despite claims that a Mayan calendar shows that time will “run out” on December 21 of that year.

Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the end of the world. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff,” he said.

A significant time period for the Mayans does end on the date, and enthusiasts have found a series of astronomical alignments they say coincide in 2012, including one that happens roughly only once every 25,800 years.

But most archaeologists, astronomers and Mayans say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, internet doomsday rumours and TV specials such as one on the History Channel which mixes “predictions” from Nostradamus and the Mayans and asks: “Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock finally winds down to zero days, zero hope?”

Let me be blunt: The “2012 Doomsday” is bullshit. Complete, 100% pure, unfiltered and unmitigated bullshit. No one who has actually studied the Maya, their inscriptions, or their calendars believes they made any such prediction. One monument — just one, out of so many they left — mentions a god who will return in 2012, but the monument doesn’t make clear what will happen when he does.

Beyond that, as the Telegraph explains, the Maya thought the world would keep turning after 2012:

But [archaeologist Guillermo] Bernal also notes there are other inscriptions at Mayan sites for dates far beyond 2012 — including one that roughly translates into the year 4772.

The truth of the matter is something quite different than you hear amid all the raging hysteria. The Maya had a couple of ways of tabulating the passage of time in long eras, including blocks of 394 years called baktuns, and the year 2012 is the end of the 13th baktun as they reckoned things. They connected the passage of baktuns with primal forces and likely believed a great change would come about at that time … but this need not mean “the End of the World” as so many folks are saying.

In order to get around this problem, some folks have amplified the so-called “prediction” or “prophecy” of the Maya, to include bizarre phenomena they’re pegging to 2012, such as some kind of “galactic alignment,” solar flares, and all sorts of other crap they claim are coming — and in some cases that the Maya somehow knew about, which is why they leaned on the year 2012.

Again, however, all of this is bullshit. (I’m sorry to have to repeat a profane word so many times in one post … but really, no other word suits the claims that are being made.) If you want more information on how all these strange astronomical claims are also bullshit, check out this Universe Today article.

I will finish by posing a question that should be asked of anyone who honestly believes the Maya knew the world would end in 2012. If the Maya were so good at predicting the future, why were they blissfully unaware of the collapse of their own civilization, which ended c. 900 CE? You’d think they’d have been able to do something about it, no? But they didn’t! So how good can they be at predicting things?

The fact is that the world will not end on 2012, and anyone who says it will and that the Maya predicted it, is lying to you. I guess that makes them lying liars for doomsday, doesn’t it?

Update: National Geographic published a list of “2012 Myths” and reinforces that there is no “doom” that will hit in December 2012. (Hat tip: History & Archaeology Forum)

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