For some, 2012 heralds fear. This is thanks to recent, often vivid, interpretations of a centuries earlier Mayan civilization set of beliefs. Some people believe the world will end or that there will be catastrophes on a large scale, all because the Mayan Long Count calendar is thought to be reaching the end of its cycle in 2012.

If you've been worried by the hype and rumors of doom and gloom for 2012 that have been eagerly shared across websites, blogs and other sources, fear no longer. It's not the end of the world but it could be the start of your critical thinking circuitry getting a fine tune.

Read some well researched and backed up information on Mayan culture and their calendar. In a nutshell, the Classic Maya civilization thrived between 300 to 900 CE (AD). Highly advanced for its time, Mayan culture showed good understanding in such fields as mathematics, medicine and astronomy. The Mayan calendar was a complicated affair; indeed, it was a "system" rather than a single calendar as we understand a calendar to be today. It consisted of three calendars used simultaneously, showing different cycles (yearly, 50 yearly and long term). One of these calendars was known as the "Long Count", noting each day from a base date of 3114 BCE (BC). It is this calendar that some Mayan scholars believe is due to come to completion on the solstice of December 21, 2012. However, even here there is disagreement, with other scholars calculating different end dates, such as 4772.[1][2]

We are upon the end of the fourth Great Cycle of a Long Count calendar. We've survived three other ones! All Mayan calendars would tell of a date when there would be a dramatic end, but the interpretation was that this was always a beginning to a new cycle or a "new age". Seen in this light, the ending of a calendar is a positive sign, not a negative one.
Uncertainty is rife in interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphics due to the fact that they were no longer used after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500s. As such, clarification of exact meaning is difficult and subjective.
Most scholars believe that Mayan calendars were focused on keeping a track of time rather than predicting the future.
Just because there is nothing past the 2012 date on the "Long Count" calendar doesn't mean there will be the end of time. It is the only Mayan calendar of which we know that ends after the fall of their civilization. Had they continued to thrive as a civilization, chances are that they would have continued to keep making the calendars well into the unforeseeable future.

Be skeptical. If the Mayan civilization had prophesied an end of the world in 2012, its reliability has to be doubted given that they didn't manage to prophesy the demise of their own civilization. Avoid turning this into a test of faith in Mayan predictions!

Be wary of people seeing patterns where there are none to be seen. The human mind loves patterns; there are sound, biological reasons for our pattern recognition inner software that aided our survival throughout history. However, when this goes into overdrive, it also causes us to assume things that are actually not of significance but are easily the stuff of paranoia and imagining. One of the things you might read includes the "significance" attributed to the date 12-21-2012 (or 21-12-2012) by numerologists. All those twos and ones seem to form a pattern but they don't - since the solstice is always on 12-21 every year and since we've already had other candidate years such as 2001 and 2002, there is nothing special about the 2012 date.

Equally filled with drama but no substance are any claims about planetary alignment and a dark rift. Any planetary alignment is fascinating for us but without impact. Any gravitational effect from any solar system object other than our Moon is negligible due to the great distances involved. As for the concept of a "dark rift" in our Milky Way on 21 December 2012, in which our Sun is supposed to combine its gravity with the black hole (Sagittarius A*) at the center of our galaxy, there is no substance to this fantastical theory. There is no rift––it is dust and gas covering up stars located in the bulge in the center of our universe. Second, the Mayans didn't know of any black hole––this is thanks to astronomers discovering it, so predicting something about an entity of which they knew nothing at all seems very far-fetched. Third, the Sun is always aligned in the Milky Way. The Earth moves, and has been in that one alignment many hundred times. Finally but most tellingly, given that we're 24,000 light years away from this black hole, it's impact on us is negligible. Put it this way––our Sun has a gravitational pull on Earth that is 2 million times greater than that of our galaxy's black hole but we're still here.[3]
Another claim to be skeptical about is anyone claiming that the winter solstice is the special reason behind 2012 doom scenarios. The evident reason is this––while 21-21-2012 is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, it's the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. And last time anyone checked, the oblate spheroid that we know as our Earth consists of both hemispheres.

Get off those gibberish websites! The internet is a wonderful tool that has opened up pathways to information like no other tool humankind has ever experienced before. But with the good comes the downright dreadful because every man, woman and their dog can add information to the internet. Sure, it's freedom of speech on the one hand. But on the other, it's a free-for-all bazaar of the bizarre and truth, accuracy and reliability can take a nosedive when they get in the way of a good story. Combine this with our human hard-wiring to believe the worst and it's the negative, sensational stories that get promoted, shared around and given credence through insistence and persistence. This still doesn't make stories about the end of the world in 2012 any more believable. Without scientific proof, without substantiated evidence, all you are left with is online hype. It may be hype with gloss and enthusiasm but it's still a hoax. It's just an idea with a lot of conjecture.

Do your own research and critical analysis. Look around the different sites discussing the 2012 theories and guesses. You'll find there are many unfounded, inconsistent and unsupported sources of information. Be especially careful of any one person who claims to know what is happening. It may even pay to look into the background of this person, to see what they have "predicted" in the past or what they have done in the past.

Tune it out. When a news report about 2012 doomsday comes on, change the station. When people keep talking about it, change the subject. Do not read about it on the internet and switch off the History Channel or The Discovery Channel whenever they discuss anything about Nostradamus and the "End Times", or any other program related to end-of-the-world theories. It's really no big deal when you're not feeding your worries about it any more.

Many of the shows on television about a 2012 apocalypse have contained misleading statements and unfounded claims.

Get professional help. Sometimes we cling to horrible world-ending theories because our personal lives align with such feelings of negativity and doom. If things aren't going right in your own life and it seems easier to stress and worry about something that is a non-event and totally out of your control, then you risk giving up control of every aspect of your life and wallowing in gloom. Too much worry can tilt into paranoia. Instead of chewing yourself up with worries, sadness and fear, talk to someone who can help you to see and resume the more positive and stable aspects of your own life.

Don't let your fear run your life; what sort of life is that?

Don't talk about it in any depth. When people bring it up, (which they will because it's great water cooler gossip), just say you don't believe it. Don't let them persuade you to believe them. Tell them what you believe instead and list the reasons why the theory is total bunk.

Turn your fear into action. If you do experience fear, apart from stopping reading all the finessed internet and book theories written by people with stars in their eyes, let go of your fear, stop procrastinating and live your dream. Complete stuff on your bucket list. Don't wait until you're 50. Furthermore, you can help in the prevention of any real disaster during this year. Start recycling, switch to a hybrid car, donate to a Space Habitation Project. Turn this fear into a reason to live.

Live each day as a gift. Do you really need world-ending myths to shock you out of your daily apathy?
Not to encourage a New Age bent if you don't already have one, but you might be interested to know that there is a whole flipside to 2012 fear, in which people believe in the rupture from old negative ways and a transformation to new, positive and more spiritual ways at the passing of 2012. You can read up on these theories for yourself but again, keep your critical thinking at the forefront, remembering that a good life is what you put into it, not what external forces exert upon you.

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Comment by Tara Mary on June 29, 2012 at 3:58am

Love the picture, David, thanks so much.  b

Thanks Rak, same to you.  

Comment by RaK on June 29, 2012 at 1:45am

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