As someone who writes and broadcasts extensively in the media on mysteries and conspiracies, Nick Pope is increasingly being asked to comment on theories that the world will end in 2012, as many people believe is predicted by the Mayan calendar. Click here to read Nick Pope's latest newspaper article on 2012, published in The Sun on 28th December 2011. Nick Pope is sceptical about the various theories surrounding 2012 and his position statement on the issue is as follows:
Speculation concerning 21st December 2012 arises because this date (or 23rd December 2012 according to some calculations) marks the end of a long count period (i.e. a cycle) of the Mayan calendar – or more technically, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which was used by a number of central American cultures, most notably the Mayans.
The thinking is that the end of the calendar equates to the end of time, i.e. the end of the world. However, there’s no evidence to suggest that the ancient Mayans thought this way. Very little survived the destruction of their civilisation and the truth of the matter is that little is known about these people’s beliefs. In any case, the world doesn't end just because your calendar does. When my calendar runs out, each year, I simply buy a new one!
Various different conspiracy theories have evolved, suggesting what might happen. These include some cataclysm brought about by the return of a cosmic body dubbed Nibiru, or Planet X. Others believe a rapid polar shift or a reversal of the magnetic polarity of Earth will bring about the end of the world. Some people have predicted an alien invasion, while others believe that a 'false flag' alien invasion will be staged, with a view to establishing a New World Order.
The New Age community takes a different view, believing that 2012 will see not the end of the world in a literal sense, but a shift in consciousness, or some other great spiritually transformative event. While this is a far more positive view than the doomsday prophesies, it is similarly unsupported by any scientific evidence.
2012 is now firmly embedded in popular culture. The Hollywood blockbuster 2012 put the issue in the public eye and NASA has gone so far as to place material in the Frequently Asked Questions section of their website, assuring people that the world will not end in 2012. NASA's article can be read here. Speculation and interest will doubtless increase as the date approaches.
There is nothing new in the idea that the world will end on calendrically significant dates. Many Christians genuinely believed that the Apocalypse would take place in 1000. Nostradamus predicted that the world would end in 1999 and some people linked this with the Y2K problem, which was sometimes dubbed the millennium bug.
If the approach of 2012 encourages people to take an interest in ancient cultures such as the Mayans, or if they use the date in some way to assess and improve their lives, this is a good thing. But if people try to use the date to spread fear, or to promote apocalyptic cults, this should be resisted.
All previous predictions of the end of the world have proved to be false. Similarly, the world will not end in 2012.