2012: History’s Greatest Hoax

Mayan civilization at its peak.

Mayan civilization at its peak.

By Nick Tulli

Anybody who has lived in the western world in the past decade has heard the theory that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, and the world will end with it. This assumption is so ludicrous that I have to ask myself, where do I begin?

First of all, I should begin by saying that the plural of a member of the Mayan civilization is not “Mayans.” It is actually “Maya.” Just like the plural of sheep is sheep, the plural of one Maya is Maya.

Okay, sorry, now onto the real point of this whole spiel.

The problem with this whole idea of 2012 is that the Mayan civilization, and its calendar, never predicted apocalypse. The calendar doesn’t even end. 2012 is simply the end of a period of time on their calendar. The Maya counted time in very, very long periods. They used what is known as the Long Count Calendar, which is now better known as the Mayan Calendar. The Maya called a day a k’in, twenty days were represented as a winal, 360 days made a tun, twenty tuns made a k’atun, and twenty k’atuns made a b’ak’tun, about 394.26 years. On December 21, 2012, the Mayan Calendar reaches its 13th b’ak’tun.

What does this mean? Nothing.

The date of the last time the Long Count Calendar reached a new b’ak’tun, represented as 12.0.0.0.0, was September 18, 1618. As it turns out, September 18, 1816 was about the most insignificant day history has ever seen.

America hadn’t been colonized by Europeans, no British king was busy invading Ireland, and, believe it or not, the French were not losing any wars.

The only interesting tidbit about December 21, 2012 is that the Long Count Calendar reads 13.0.0.0.0. That’s it. Just a bunch of zeroes.

A few years ago NASA became so inundated with questions about this very phenomena that the scientists took time out of their busy schedules to explain that a civilization that existed thousands of years ago did not know more about the universe than modern scientists do today. If the Maya were so good at predicting the end of the world, how come they did not predict the Spanish crossing the Atlantic and wiping out the last of them?

This assumption has come into fruition in only the past couple decades, and though I don’t know this for a fact, I would bet that the Internet and multimedia should be charged as the cause of it’s success. Not to mention, the 2011 movie that certainly did not sweep the Academy Awards, 2012, was based on absolutely no scientific fact and really made a laughing stock of the whole ordeal (perhaps that’s what it deserves).

But, who knows? Perhaps science is all wrong and the world will end this week. Maybe all the volcanoes on the face of the earth will decide that it’s up to them to fulfill the prophecy of their Maya friends and erupt simultaneously. Maybe the Moon will decide that it’s too cold out in space and it wants to give the Earth a hug in order to share body heat. Or maybe there’s a far away race of extraterrestrial life that has mastered high-speed space travel and is flying through the galaxy in attempt to destroy all every blue planet (Sorry, Neptune).

I suppose that it wouldn’t hurt to get ready, just in case. So, I’ve made up two checklists for the end of the world. One for those of you who are still skeptical and not taking any risks, and one for those of you like me who can’t wait for everyone to go looney.

For the Skeptics:
• food
• water
• clothes
• fists, to fight the aliens
• shoes
• a pillow while you wait
• a metal bunker that most likely would not help anyway
• a lion or tiger to scare the aliens away
• a compass
• thermal underwear for the whole family
• lots and lots of gasoline
• shampoo, because even if you are the last ones left, you still need to shower. Nobody likes B.O.
• toilet paper, always.
• a dog to keep you company if your family thinks you’re nuts
• a Metallica playlist
• two sticks to make a fire
• a poster of Clint Eastwood, for motivation

For those in the right mind:
• a very large glass of Cherry Coke
• popcorn
• napkins
• KFC, if you so wish
• a La-Z-Boy or other leather recliner
• at least 3 working news stations (CNN, NBC, ABC are preferred)
• a nearby bathroom
• a sense of humor
• a deck of cards
• Internet access
• the ability to laugh at the world’s population
• a good night’s sleep
• fireworks, so you can scare your neighbors
• a twitter page

Friday is sure to be entertaining. I, for one, can’t wait. And if you want to have some fun in our waning days, you can test whether your friends really believe that the world will end – just ask them to sign all of their assets over to you on Thursday.

But hey, on the bright side, if the world really does end, I guess that means that my C in calculus isn’t really going to matter.