John Hoopes

John Hoopes
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John W. Hoopes

John W. Hoopes is an anthropologist at Kansas University, and is one of the main authors behind the Wikipedia entry on "Mayanism" and has also contributed to the entry on the "2012 phenomenon."

His principal training is in archaeology and his interests include Pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica, the Isthmo-Colombian Area, the Pan-Caribbean Area, northern South America, and the Central Andes.

He has been focusing on native cultures of Costa Rica for most of his career. He is developing an archaeological field project at Nuevo Corinto, an ancient village in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Costa Rica.

His current research interests include interpretations of Pre-Columbian art and iconography, "shamanism," and popular perceptions of archaeology as manifest in pseudoarchaeology, pseudoscience, and mythology in contemporary culture.

On 2012

Hoopes identifies two branches of the "2012 Phenomenon":

It is possible to discern two principal branches of 2012-related prophecy. One is characterized by a preoccupation with physical disasters, such as global warming, shifts of the earth’s poles (either magnetic or geographical), solar flares, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, the impact of an errant comet or meteor, a near pass by an imagined celestial body (Planet X or Nibiru), or some combination of these. These “earth changes,” a phrase taken from the work of psychic Edgar Cayce, are cyclical and their mythology references past catastrophes such as the sinking of continents (Atlantis and Lemuria) and the destruction of ancient civilizations (either legendary or archaeogical). The other branch emphasizes a metaphysical shift, often identified as a “transformation of consciousness,” that will include widespread acknowledgment of the reality of phenomena currently subject to scientific skepticism or denial. These include souls, spirits, deities, and other supernatural beings, reincarnation and past-life regression, communication with spirits of the dead, extrasensory perception (including its association with the pineal gland), psychic abilities (such as telepathy and telekinesis), out-of-body travel, and interdimensional or time travel. They can also include extraterrestrial intelligence, physical craft from outer space or other dimensions (UFOs), alien abductions, the existence of an organization known as the Galactic Confederacy or the Galactic Federation, and insistence on the reality of beings such as Reptilians, who disguise themselves as human beings (or from whom malicious humans are descended through carefully guarded bloodlines). Common to both is the assertion that, regardless of its nature, what happens in 2012 will bring about a “New Age.”1

Hoopes has been very critical of people who misuse archaeological data to support the 2012 doomsday hoax. “Fear sells,” says Hoopes, “Unfortunately, a lot of gullible, uninformed people will be deluded by (these) misrepresentations.” Hoopes is very clear on the issue of the Maya: “Nowhere in the databases of science does it say that the 2012 date is the end of the Maya calendar,” he says2.

Promoters of the 2012 mythology tend to ignore current academic scholarship and the opinions of professional Mayanists (archaeologists, epigraphers, art historians, linguists, etc.) about what ancient Maya people actually believed. Their interpretations are based on outdated and antiquated ideas of the late 19th and early 20th century, ideas that are useful for the construction of mythology and ideology but do not reflect contemporary academic knowledge.3

On the history of the "2012 Phenomenon"

Hoopes defines "Mayanism" and the "2012 Phenomenon" in an unpublished manuscript:

Mayanism, an eclectic collection of beliefs that grow out of what has been variously identified as the Esoteric Tradition, New Age thought, and metaphysical religion (Albanese 2007; Hammer 2001), also seeks to marshal scientific evidence for spiritual and religious goals through the invention of sacred tradition (Lewis and Hammer 2007). This is currently manifest in the “2012 phenomenon”(Sitler 2006), a form of Mayanism in which an appropriation of the Maya calendar and its interpretation is used as a tool for the promotion of a worldview in which a “New Age” will transform consciousness.4

Hoopes contends that the history of the "2012 phenomenon" is older and more complicated than many people realize:

[people should know that]… that the history is actually quite a bit older and more complicated than [Sitchin's description of Nibiru], with the first clear association between the 13th bak'tun and a doomsday event appearing in astronomer Maude Makemson's "The Book of the Jaguar Priest" in 1951 and a revised version appearing in archaeologist Michael Coe's book "The Maya" in 1966.
Makemson's correlation was 260 years too early and Coe's was erroneous by almost a year (he initially said December 24, 2011), but the association of the end of the 13th bak'tun with world destruction (Coe used the term "Armageddon") came long before Sitchin's discussion of Nibiru.5

Hoopes also says that while many people focus on the Astronomy of 2012, there is quite a bit to be said about it from the Archaeology side as well:

I know astronomers have been focused on the Nibiru story, but there's a lot more to add from the archaeology side. Sitchin was a relative latecomer. Although Waters, the McKennas, and Arguelles all mentioned 2012 in their 1975 books, Sitchin doesn't appear to have picked up on that for "The 12th Planet," published in 1976.

What will interest astronomers is that the books published in 1975 may have been inspired by the echatological and New Age buzz that was associated with the coming of Comet Kohoutek starting in 1973. I think it was the hyping of that astronomical event in the midst of the early 1970s zeigeist that got the 2012 ball rolling.

Check out the "Impact on popular culture" section of the Wikipedia entry on Comet Kohoutek and you'll see what I mean.

A bit of little-known trivia: Pink Floyd's hit album "Dark Side of the Moon" originated with the "Eclipse Suite" from a concert titled "In Celebration of the Comet - The Coming of Kohoutek."6

Hoopes points out that Comet Kohoutek inspired some doomsday cults:

In 1973, David Berg, founder of the Children of God, predicted that Comet Kohoutek foretold a colossal doomsday event in the United States in January 1974.

The Children of God were an organization of hippie evangelicals who were best known for distributing massive quantities of cartoon pamphlets in shopping malls and other public places, sort of like the Hare Krishnas used to do. I think they played a key role in spreading at least the mythology of a doomsday associated with Comet Kohoutek. Another lesser-known doomsday prophet at the same time was Marshall Applewhite, who gained relatively little attention during Comet Kohoutek but tried again with the Hale-Bopp Comet in 1997, becoming the infamous leader of the Heaven's Gate suicides.

I think it's critical for a new generation to know this history, especially given how the Heaven's Gate group ended in tragedy.7

Psychology Today

Hoopes has an article published on the Psychology Today blog titled What You Should Know About 2012: Answers to 13 Questions

A List of Articles quoting John Hoopes

Audio interviews with John Hoopes Interview (2007)

"Let’s Talk about It" with the Rev. Dr. Thomas Shepherd, October 02, 2009

The World is Ending Again: This Time in 2012, with Thomas Shepherd (Unity FM, October 2, 2009)

Hoopes is also a regular contributor to the Year 2012 discussion list on

1. Hoopes, John. December 30, 2011. What You Should Know About 2012: Answers to 13 Questions Psychology Today
2. King, Tom. November 17, 2009. End Times Entrepreneurialism: Hollywood taps into the ‘2012’ prediction for big box-office profits
3. Hoopes, John. 2009. A Cultural History of 2012 Unpublished.
4. Hoopes, John. 2012. Personal communication


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