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You may have noticed a recent trend of trying to fit every hackneyed doomsday prophecy into the same red-letter year of 2012. The theories are obtuse, their connections are flimsy and the perceived consequences are completely unsubstantiated.

Unsurprisingly, these prophecies are enormously popular.

6
The Mayans

The Mayans are probably the most-quoted of the 2012 doom prophecies, and can perhaps be credited with getting the whole fad started.

Back when they were an advanced civilization living in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula about 3,000 years ago, they developed around 15 to 20 calendars, all with a slightly different purpose: the Tzolk'in was used to calculate crop cultivation, the Haab followed the cycles of the sun and the Long Count ticked off the harrowing last days until face-bursting ultimate destruction.


It's all fairly self-explanatory.

The Long Count calculates a period of time known as the Great Cycle, which is a count of about 5,125.36 years. Scholars paired up the dates of the Long Count with Gregorian calendars and found that the current Great Cycle began August 13, 3114 B.C, and ends on December 21st, 2012. Dum dum DUUUUUMMM!!!

Bolstering their theory is that the date coincides with a winter solstice during which the Sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. When that happens, some say the Earth's poles will shift and every horrible natural disaster imaginable will come together to form a Megazord of planet crushing assbeat.

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

Uh... It's a calendar. It accurately predicts the rise of the sun every day. Otherwise nothing.

Why it Might be Bullshit:

First of all, the end of the Long Count holds no more significance than Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve: the Maya just had a celebration and then started a new calendar. Even they didn't think it was going to be the end of the world, and even if they had, why the fuck would they be expected to know?

As for the winter solstice thing, that's just when the Sun is at its greatest distance from Earth. Our poles shifting because the Sun is aligned with the center of the Milky Way makes about as much scientific sense as saying you shouldn't drive at sunset because your car might crash into the sun.

Besides, the solstice occurs in June in the southern hemisphere, so if the world looks like it's going to end we can all just move to Australia.

5
The I-Ching

A less popular but equally convoluted source is the I-Ching. In the pre-800-number era of human existence, the people of China received their psychic advice from one of their oldest texts, the I-Ching. You asked the I-Ching a question and a certified physic flipped three coins in to the air, drawing a hexagram based on the results. This told your fortune, somehow.

The I-Ching had nothing to do with the end of the world until a man by the name of Terence McKenna came along and made a pattern out of every possible result. After applying this pattern to a line graph accompanied by a timeline of recorded history, he discovered that the high and low points of the graph coincided with several significant events.

On December 21, 2012, the line slowly dips off of the chart, once again supposedly indicating a world-ending catastrophic buttfuck.

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Discovery of the New World
World Wars I and II

Why it Might be Bullshit:

The reality is McKenna utilized a pattern of his own invention to create a timeline of his own invention, and then predicted world events that had already happened.

After all, there's enough bad shit in human history that you could probably correlate several large scale catastrophes right alongside the peaks and valleys of a line graph showing Disney's stock price over the last decade.

He couldn't even decide what the end of his timeline signified, claiming everything from the apocalypse to alien invasion to time travel. Honestly, what kind of half-assed prophet was this guy? Maybe the next Batman movie comes out in 2012 and it's a huge disappointment, and the I-Ching just takes it way harder than everybody else.

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4
Web-Bot

In the late 90s, some brainiacs created a computer program called Web-bot to make stock market predictions, perhaps out of a belief that large amounts of money would be the only way any of them would ever get laid. Web-bot works like an Internet search engine does, but it presents its results in the form of numerical trends.

Basically, it was designed to tap in to our collective unconscious by analyzing information on the Internet and then make predictions based on its findings. So it's kind of like Trending Topics on Twitter, only people inexplicably trusted it to provide meaningful financial advice.

In 2001, the aforementioned brainiacs reasoned that if their program could be used to predict the stock market, it should be able to predict the future as well. According to the Web-bot, small nuclear wars will erupt somewhere in the world in 2009, initiating a series of events resulting in a major cataclysm sometime in--wait for it--the year 2012.

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

9/11
Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy
New York blackout of 2003
Anthrax scares at the U.S. House of Representatives
Hurricane Katrina

Why it Might be Bullshit:

The Web-bot's data pool is limited to what is being discussed on the Internet. If the National Hurricane Center predicts that an upcoming hurricane season will be a particularly bad one, and everyone online starts talking about it, the Web-bot will spring into action by helpfully predicting the upcoming hurricane season will be a particularly bad one.

So why is the Web-bot predicting a cataclysmic event in 2012? Because end of the world alarmists are flooding the Internet with tons of information alleging some apocalyptic occurrence in 2012, that's why. Seriously, it's the Carlos Mencia of clairvoyant robots.


You look like a baby.

3
The Hopi Indians

The Hopi are one of America's oldest Indian tribes, found in the northeastern section of Arizona along with absolutely nothing else. They have a rich mythology filled with Spider Women, Skeleton Men and the repeated creation and destruction of the Earth. They are a bleak people.

The Hopi believe time to be cyclical and made up of a number of worlds. When a world begins it is innocent and pure, but as time goes by the world and its people become corrupted by sex, war and other things we pay 10 dollars a ticket to see at AMC.

At the height of decay the world ends, its people are purified, and everything starts over from the beginning. We'd like to imagine it as the end of Matrix Revolutions, except that we swore on our father's grave we would never think about that movie ever again.


Fuck you, Matrix Revolutions. Fuck you forever.

According to the Hopi lore, we are currently living in the fourth world. Sadly, due to the white man and his insatiable white quest for spiritless technology, we are rapidly approaching the Great Purification. Once we all pass through a cosmic Brita filter we will enter world five, which as fate would have it is the one with all the goddamn hammer brothers.

And people figure, hey, might as well be 2012, right? After all, these prophets can't all be wrong.

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

There are nine signs that lead to the Great Purification.

Dastardly white men with guns.
"The coming of spinning wheels filled with voices" - early American pioneers in wagons, or bass-thumping Escalades with spinning rims.
The coming of the white man's cattle - Longhorns.
"The land will be crossed by snakes of iron" - Railroads.
The world will be crisscrossed by a giant spider's web - telephone lines or the Internet.
The building of a large network of roads.
"...The sea turning black, and many living things dying..." - Oil spills.
"...Many youth, who wear their hair long like my people, come and join the tribal nations..." - hippies.
A "dwelling-place in the heavens... that shall fall with a great crash" - U.S. Space Station Skylab, which fell to Earth in 1979.

Why it Might be Bullshit

The signs of the Hopi apocalypse read like a middle school American History text book with a particular emphasis on the ill-deeds of the white man. Consequently, they seem little more than elements of a curse or an elaborate revenge fantasy.


"Then the white people are all like, 'Don't kill us!' and we're all like, 'No! HAHAHAHA!'"

Still, predicting things like the "snakes of iron" that would crisscross the land? We have to admit it's pretty impressive that they predicted things like the railroads in... oh, wait, they didn't publish the prophecy until 1959.

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2
Mother Shipton

Ursula Sontheil, later known as Mother Shipton, was born in a cave in North Yorkshire, England in 1488. She is historically described as being the visual approximation of a foot grafted to an ass. Upon discovering her father was Satan himself, her mother fled to a nunnery and gave Ursula up for adoption (by tossing her from a speeding carriage, which was the 15th century equivalent).

Due to her fanciful lineage, she was bestowed the power to see the future. It wasn't until 1641--80 years after her death--that an anonymously written pamphlet was published detailing some of her prophecies.

As the centuries passed, newly discovered Shipton prophecies were released to the world, one of which reads, "When pictures seem alive with movements free, when boats like fishes swim beneath the sea, when men like birds shall scour the sky, then half the world, deep drenched in blood shall die."

Wait, only half? What are we even worried about?

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

The death of Henry VIII
The Great Fire of London
The Printing Press
The Defeat of the Spanish Armada
World Wars I and II

Why it Might Be Bullshit:

Hey, have you noticed that she didn't specifically mention 2012? Yet, she comes up in all of the 2012 articles. Ask them why they assume 2012 for her particular prophecy, and they say it only makes sense because that's what all the other prophecies say. Then in the next breath they boast about how all the prophecies "agree." You can see how it works.

As for Mother Shipton, her story seems pretty solid, other than the fact that she may not have ever existed at all. Her biographer, Richard Head (no, seriously), later admitted that he had collected some stories he knew and created a fictional narrative he sold as The Life and Times of Mother Shipton.

As for her predictions, they can be credited to the oldest and most reliable method mankind has ever discovered: they were all written after the events in question had already taken place, and then passed on to the public as "newly discovered" prophecies.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

1
Nostradamus

Ah, Nostradamus. No one else in history has caused more people to stockpile Spam in their bomb shelters. Hell, might as well get him in on the act.

In 1982, the world gained a whole new reason to fear Nostradamus when a never-before-published work of his was discovered in Rome. A repeated image in the book is that of an eight-spoked wheel, which allegedly represents the intersection of the Divine Cross (made up of the angles of our galactic center and the celestial equator) and the Terrestrial Cross (the angles that make up our equinox and solstice). The two crosses only come into alignment once every 13,000 years, and we're due for alignment in, you guessed it, 2012.

Nostradamus' Armageddon for Dummies also has an image that shows three solar eclipses followed by a lunar eclipse, indicating that sometime between 1992 and 2012 our world will end. The likely cataclysm is a great flood, because at one point there is a picture of a giant pair of stripper's underwear that scholars allege is a raft.


Without question, this is a picture of a raft.

What Predictions (Supposedly) Came True?

The Reign of Napoleon
The Rise of Hitler
The Atom Bomb
The Kennedy Assassination

Why it Might be Bullshit:

Let us, for a second, ignore the fact that the book contains three different handwriting styles, that it is a copy of an original so damaged most of it could not be deciphered, and that (again) every predicted event occurred well before the book's "discovery" in 1982.

We are still faced with bullshit by the whole "three solar eclipses,one lunar eclipse" thing. There are dozens of lunar and solar eclipses taking place during the 20 year period of 1992 and 2012, not just four as the theory implies. There was a period between 2007 and 2008 that met the three and one criteria, but that just begs the question "Why the fuck didn't the world explode, evil picture book?" Don't ask. It doesn't know.

If all of these predictions are bogus (which they most certainly are), how do they manage to have 2012 in common? The History Channel, that's how. In late 2007, the History Channel ran a special about Nostradamus' lost book, stretching interpretations so thin you could make a doomsday crepe out of it. As with all of the above "prophecies," 2012 sites around the Internet took the ball and ran with it.

Pretty annoying, right? Well, get used to it. You've got two and a half more years.



Find more of Luis's work over at ScenicAnemia.com.

For end of days scenarios based in reason and logic, check out 5 Cosmic Events That Could Kill You Before Lunch. Or find out what science is up to that will inevitably doom civilization, in The 5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End the World.

And check out our own doomsday prediction in Cracked.com's Top Picks (featuring Gladstone as the virgin sacrifice).

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