|A response to the "7 Reasons" post and email|
|Seven reasons why 2012 is not the end.|
An email / message post has been making the rounds for a while now, claiming to show several reasons why the world will end in 2012. We break the post down and show why each claim is bogus. Somewhere along the line an additional header portion was added to the original "7 Reasons" post, and we also address the claims made in it.
Albert and the Bees
Albert Einstein said if the honey bees were suddenly gone mankind would have about 4 years left to live. Well, the honey bees are going extinct now and at the present rate in another year or so there will be no more honey bees left on earth. 4 years from now gives us the year 2012
This quote is also covered at Snopes.com.
Albert Einstein died in 1955. The quote above first appears in 1994. Do the math.
This claim first appears in literature handed out during a 1994 protest by European bee-keepers who were demonstrating against greater imports of honey. As such, it appears to be a mis-quote of Einstein. Einstein's few known references to bees and other insects were made by way of a comparison of mankind with insects.
There are exactly 2012 days between the June 20 2007 Summer solstice and the December 21 2012 Winter solstice.
Actually there are 2011 days between those two dates, but we'll say that it is true anyway: What does this have to do with anything? Why pick the June solstice 2007, other than to make the number of days work out? What relevance does this have? In addition, the June 2007 solstice occurred on June 21, at 18:061, and there are actually only 2009 full days, plus about 3/4 of a day, between those two dates. So not only is the number of days cited irrelevant, it is wrong.
Jesus said that no man knows the hour or the day of the End of Days. Even Jesus didn't know. Only his father did. But Jesus added that he hoped that those who will live in the Final Generation would look for the signs in the hope their suffering would not be so great.
While ignoring the religious aspects of this comment, we point out that this paragraph is self-contradictory. First it claims that "no man knows the hour", but then claims that those who will live in the final generation will look for signs, implying that since some people claim that there are "signs" that this is the final generation. A nice collection of prior, failed doomsday predictions can be found at A Brief History of the Apocalypse.
NASA predicts that the Sun will also reverse its own magnetic poles during 2012 as result of reaching the end of current 11-year sunspot cycle.
The magnetic field of the earth is fairly simple, we have a north pole, and a south pole that are fairly close to the geographic poles of rotation. The Sun, on the other hand, does *not* have a simple magnetic field. The magnetic field lines of the sun are twisted, and tangled, and constantly in motion. The magnetic field of the sun does have a predominant north/south orientation at the poles as seen in the magnetic "butterfly" diagram. However the most intense activity is at the sunspots themselves.
See our page on solar flares for more information.
The prediction that the Sun will reverse its predominant north/south orientation is a no-brainer. This overall magnetic orientation reverses every 11 years or so, and is part of the sunspot cycle2. So the question becomes "Why is this significant this time?". The only answer we can find seems to be the coincidence of the solar cycle with the 2012 date.
But, the most recent solar cycle predictions are indicating that the solar cycle will peak in 2013, not 2012!3
Some believe this will amplify the effects of retarding magnetic field on earth, as harmful charged particles blasted away from the sun would more easily penetrate the earth's atmosphere.
As is common throughout this quote, the author gives incorrect information with no attribution. Whoever these "some" are, they are wrong.
The Earth's magnetic field is in decline presently, but that is because it is presently stronger than the historical average. It has experienced wide swings strength and reversals in the past. Guess what? Life is still here.
The Vatican holds very closely to the Prophecy of St. Malachy.
Does it? Is there a citation for this claim?
This Medieval Monk had detailed visions of 112 Popes until Doomsday, also known as The Biblical Apocalypse. The current Pope, Benedict XVI is the 111th named Pope, only one Pope remains.
Regardless of the status of the truth of the claim that the Vatican "holds very closely" to the writings of St. Malachy, we have to question the relevance. What special knowledge did this medieval monk have? Did he make other predictions?
The prophecy was first published in 1595 by Arnold de Wyon, a Benedictine historian, as part of his book Lignum Vitæ. Wyon attributed the list to Saint Malachy, the 12th‑century bishop of Armagh in Northern Ireland. According to the traditional account, in 1139, Malachy was summoned to Rome by Pope Innocent II. While in Rome, Malachy purportedly experienced a vision of future popes, which he recorded as a sequence of cryptic phrases. This manuscript was then deposited in the Roman Archive, and thereafter forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1590.
On the other hand, Bernard of Clairvaux's biography of Malachy makes no mention of the prophecy, nor is it mentioned in any record prior to its 1595 publication. Some sources, including the most recent editions of the Catholic Encyclopedia, suggest that the prophecy is a late 16th‑century forgery. Some have suggested that it was created by Nostradamus and was credited to Saint Malachy so the purported seer would not be blamed for the destruction of the papacy. Supporters, such as author John Hogue, who wrote a popular book titled The Last Pope about the claims, generally argue that even if the author of the prophecies is uncertain, the predictions are still valid.
Spanish writer father Benito Jerónimo Feijóo wrote in his Teatro Crítico Universal (1724-1739), in an entry called "Purported prophecies", that the ones by Saint Malachy were a shameful forgery, claiming that they were created ad hoc during the 16th century. As a proof, he offers an accurate fact: that the first time the prophecy is mentioned is on a handwritten account by patriarch Alfonso Chacón (a.k.a Alphonsus Ciacconus, 1540-1599) in 1590 (this account would be later published, in 1595, by the abovementioned historian Arnold de Wyon); in this account, Chacón only comments the prophecies until the papacy of Urban VII (whose papacy only lasted September 1590, and was the current pope at the time Chacón wrote the comment). According to Feijóo, Chacón, who held a great intellectual prestige at the time, was lured to comment the prophecies by someone who wanted to help cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli (1522-1605) reach the papacy. By showing them to be accurate till Urban VII, it was expected people to believe the next ones; that way, Girolamo Simoncelli could be easily elected pope, since the prophecy after Urban VII's one tells about a pope Ex antiquitate urbis (from the antiquity of the city), a fact that seems to fit him, who was cardinal of Orvieto (literally "old city", urbs vetus), or at least better than Gregory XIV, who was elected pope after Urban VII.
Thus, the forgery appears to have been useless, since Simoncelli was not elected pope. Jesuit father Claude-François Menestrier also claimed that the prophecies were forged in order to help the papal candidacy of Girolamo Simoncelli, offering similar reasons to those of Feijóo. Spanish historian José Luis Calvo points out that the prophecies seem to be very accurate till Urban VII, fitting perfectly even the antipopes, but that afterwards great efforts have to be made in order to make the prophecies fit their pope. Feijóo's explanation is usually regarded as being the most probable proof of the forgery.
Scientific experts from around the world are genuinely predicting that five years from now, all life on Earth could well finish.
No. Some new age woo-woo's are saying that, as well as the authors of 'doomsday' books and some religious nutcases. 'Scientific experts' are saying the exact opposite.
Some are saying it'll be humans that set it off. Others believe that a natural phenomenon will be the cause. And the religious folks are saying it'll be God himself who presses the stop button…
Quite a few religious predictions of the end of the world have been made over the years. Let me introduce you to "A Brief History of the Apocalypse" at http://abhota.info
1. Mayan Calendar
The first mob to predict 2012 as the end of the world were the Mayans, a bloodthirsty race that were good at two things:
Building highly accurate astrological equipment out of stone and Sacrificing Virgins.
Thousands of years ago they managed to calculate the length of the lunar moon as 329.53020 days, only 34 seconds out. The Mayan calendar predicts that the Earth will end on December 21, 2012. Given that they were pretty close to the mark with the lunar cycle, it's likely they've got the end of the world right as well.
Let's get some things straight:
- The Mayans never said that the end of the world would occur on December 21st, 2012.
- The impressive calculations of various cycles is not unique to the Maya. You may recall a group of people called the "ancient Greeks"? They did it first, and better.
- The Mayan calendar the author is referring to is the "Long Count" calendar. It is a count of days from a given starting point. IT DOES NOT END.
- The calculation of the end of the current Baktun is based on the "GMT" correlation, which is the most widely accepted correlation between the Mayan calendar and the Gregorian calendar. However, it is not the only correlation out there! Recently there has been some stuff in the news about how one researcher thinks that the GMT correlation is off by about 200 years.
The "length of the lunar moon" is meaningless in the above text. Does the author mean the length of the lunar month? There are various ways of measuring this. The correct figures are:
- Sidereal: The time it takes for the moon to pass a fixed, non-rotating point such as a distant star: 27.32 days (27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, 11.6 seconds)
- Synodic: The period from new moon to new moon: 29.53059 days (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 2.8 seconds)
- Anomalistic: The period between successive perigees (the point at which the moon is closest to the Earth): 27.55 days on average.
- Tropical month: The period that it takes the moon to reach the same position on the ecliptic: Slightly shorter than the Sidereal month
- Draconic or Nodic month: The period that it takes the moon to reach the same node (the crossing point between the Earth's orbit and the Moon's orbit). About 27.21 days on average.
We assume that the leading "3" in the author's text is a typographical error, and that he meant 29.53020 days, which is indeed very close to the synodic month.
However, the length of the synodic month is not fixed; It can vary by up to 13 hours over the course of the year! This is due to the fact that the Earth and Moon are traveling around the sun in an ellipse, and the moon is also traveling around the Earth in an ellipse. At some times of the year these ellipses align, and at other times they are crossed. As the Moon travels around the Earth, the Earth and Moon travel around the sun, so that the moon must traverse more than a full sidereal orbit in order to reach conjunction again. These motions affect the length of time between conjunctions, and the value of the synodic month is an average.
Finally the last argument is laughable. Because their calculation was close to the actual lunar cycle, then they're right about 2012? We have super-accurate atomic clocks, and can tell you the average lunar cycle down to the millisecond. But because the Maya were only 34 seconds off, 2012 is the doomsday?
In addition, there appears to be some racist overtones to the above passage. Archaeologist Johan Normark points out:
The 2012ers are also ethnocentric if not just plain racist.
Characterising people as a bloodthirsty race or as a mob is not unusual, particularly amongst the creationist minded 2012ers. As for sacrificing virgins, that is more or less a myth created by Catholic friars (they did sacrifice people though).
So far I have covered 22 hoaxers and topics on my blog Archaeological Haecceities: http://haecceities.wordpress.com/
2. Sun Storms
Solar experts from around the world monitoring the sun have made a startling discovery: our sun is in a bit of strife. The energy output of the sun is, like most things in nature, cyclic, and it's supposed to be in the middle of a period of relative stability. However, recent solar storms have been bombarding the Earth with so much radiation energy, it's been knocking out power grids and destroying satellites. This activity is predicted to get worse, and calculations suggest it'll reach its deadly peak sometime in 2012
At the time that this post was written (January 2006) the sun was well past its maximum, and was sliding toward its minimum in 2008. The claim that the solar storms were getting worse was simply incorrect.
The term we typically use in astronomy is "coronal mass ejection", which are somewhat associated with "solar flares". However, a CME can occur with or without a 'solar flare'.
A CME is basically a big lump of solar material that has gotten blown off of the sun. It consists of highly ionized particles, and carries a fairly significant electrical charge.
CMEs can occur at any point in the solar sunspot cycle. They occur more frequently during "Solar Max" (the peak of the sunspot cycle), but they can also occur during a solar minimum.
Solar astronomers will tell you today (in 2009) that the current cycle is unusually weak! Quite the opposite of what the author says!
Day-to-day solar weather is unpredictable. What we can predict are the overall trends (such as the 11-year sunspot cycle). Right now the solar scientists are predicting that the peak will be weak, and will occur in the spring of 2013, and *not* in 20124!
A good place to find real information on sunspots, solar storms and coronal mass ejections is Dr. Sten Odenwald's site.
3. The Atom Smasher
Scientists in Europe have been building the world's largest particle accelerator. Basically its a 27km tunnel designed to smash atoms together to find out what makes the Universe tick. However, the mega-gadget has caused serious concern, with some scientists suggesting that it's properly even a bad idea to turn it on in the first place. They're predicting all manner of deadly results, including mini black holes. So when this machine is fired up for its first serious experiment in 2012, the world could be crushed into a super-dense blob the size of a basketball.
The LHC has been the subject of much hysterical pontificating on the part of various doomsayers. Here's the thing: the energies in the LHC at full blast are going to be a fraction of the energies of cosmic rays smashing into the upper atmosphere.
Every day our planet is bombarded with high-energy particles. If the LHC startup was going to cause a problem, the doomsayers need to explain why the problem hasn't already occurred in the upper atmosphere.
4. The Bible says…
If having scientists warning us about the end of the world isn't bad enough,religious folks are getting in on the act aswell. Interpretations of the Christian Bible reveal that the date for Armageddon, the final battle between Good an Evil, has been set down for 2012.
Huh? It has? Set by whom? When did they "set" this date? What evidence did they use to support this claim?
The I Ching, also known as the Chinese book of Changes, says the same thing
No, it doesn't. The I Ching describes a system of casting signs in order to make predictions. It makes *no* predictions itself.
…, as do various sections of the Hindu teachings.
Not according to the Hindu scholars. For example, see this commentary at hindu-blog.com:
So connecting 2012 to Hinduism and Vedic astrology is done by those people who want to create fear and optimism at the same time among people – and earn a living by predictions and writing books.
Gee, that sounds familiar, doesn't it?
5. Super Volcano
Yellowstone National Park in the United States is famous for its thermal springs and Old Faithful geyser. The reason for this is simple - it's sitting on top of the world's biggest volcano, and geological experts are beginning to get nervous sweats. The Yellowstone volcano has a pattern of erupting every 650,000 years or so, and we're many years overdue for an explosion that will fill the atmosphere with ash, blocking the sun and plunging the Earth into a frozen winter that could last up to 15,000 years. The pressure under the Yellowstone is building steadily, and geologists have set 2012 as a likely date for the big bang.
The Yellowstone caldera is a fact. It has erupted several times. However, *no* geologist is setting 2012 as the likely date. They *are* saying that "sometime in the next several thousand to several tens of thousands of years" it may erupt again. A yellowstone eruption is *not* imminent.
Here once again we see the concept of natural processes as some kind of clockwork mechanism. This is not the only place where terms like "overdue" are used. While some natural processes are cyclical, many are chaotic and unpredictable. It is impossible to tell when the next eruption of Yellowstone will be.
6. The Physicists
This one's case of bog-simple maths mathematics. Physicists at Berekely Uni have been crunching the numbers. and they've determined that the Earth is well overdue for a major catastrophic event. Even worse, they're claiming their calculations prove, that we're all going to die, very soon - while also saying their prediction comes with a certainty of 99 percent- and 2012 just happens to be the best guess as to when it occurs.
First of all, there is no "Berekely Uni"… the proper name of the institution is "University of California, Berkeley" or "Cal Berkeley". More importantly, this is an excellent case of a real scientific paper being completely misunderstood when passed through the filter of pseudoscience.
A 2005 paper "Cycles in fossil diversity" was published in the scientific journal Nature [volume 434, pages 208-210] by UC Berkeley scientists Robert Rohde and Richard Muller (yes, the same Richard Muller of the "Nemesis - the supposed red dwarf companion to the sun - causes a shower of comets which causes mass extinctions every 26 million years" theory). They did a statistical analysis of the number of marine genera (kinds of sea life) during the past 542 million years and found an apparent statistical cycle (with 99% confidence) of 62 plus or minus 3 million years. Note that this is the source of the 99% "certainty" in the 7 Reasons viral email. Interestingly, the cycle was not in extinctions per se, but rather in "diversity". Although they had several suggestions as to what might cause such a cycle (such as Nemesis), they were unable to come up with an explanation which they could not just as easily knock down themselves. They also admit that the cycle is "somewhat less regular and well developed during the last ~150 Myr." So even if the cycle is real, there is no way we could be 99% sure as to WHEN it will cycle again. If the dinosaurs marked the last cycle, then 65 million - 62 million = 3 million. Either the cycle isn't reliable, or we missed a dip in diversity. Either way, "2012" is not mentioned in the Nature paper, and there is nothing to suggest that 2012 will suddenly mark a crisis in diversity.
We all know the Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that sheilds us from most of the sun's radiation. What you might not know is that the magnetic poles we call north and south have a nasty habit of swapping places every 750,000 years or so - and right now we're about 30,000 years overdue. Scientists have noted that the poles are drifting apart roughly 20-30kms each year, much faster than ever before, which points to a pole-shift being right around the corner. While the pole shift is underway, the magnetic field is disrupted and will eventually disappear, sometimes for up to 100 years. The result is enough UV outdoors to crisp your skin in seconds, killing everything it touches.
Again, completely bogus. See our Magnetic Pole Shift page for a complete explanation.