Questions from Steve Heiser for The Onion:
Hi John, as promised, here is my email with a few questions:
Q: - First off, I was wondering if you could please tell me what, specifically, the big budget film 2012 got the most wrong (besides, you know the obvious). There's a lot to take in: Government secret task force plotting to save folks in private, the portrayal that there's just this one crazy guy in Yellowstone park who knows the "truth," the whole apocalypse, etc.
JMJ: The basic premise is completely wrong. The ancient Maya did not predict the end of the world in 2012. The Maya time concept is cyclical. Cycle endings are about transformation and renewal in the Maya's philosophy of time. The idea of an apocalyptic doomsday comes from the linear time concept of Western Judeo-Christianity. As such, to equate doomsday with 2012 is a weird and wildly flawed projection of the assumptions of one tradition onto another, as wrong as showing Shiva holding a Bible. It basically makes the Maya the scapegoat for our own culture's nihilistic doomsday fetish.
Q: - Something I wonder about that film is that the government gave credence to someone who had this destruction theory about the year 2012. Normally, as you mention on that webpage you sent me, people with theories about 2012 are perceived as kooks in the media. What do you attribute to that shift in how theorists are portrayed?
JMJ: That only happened because the "science" was presented as sound, which it is not. But it worked for the movie. On the other hand, governments love and will happily make use of fear-filled threats of immanent doom, in order to control their populace. Goebbels and George Bush were good at that. As for the media, it does see the doomsday pimps as kooks, but the media loves kooks and crazies. "If it bleeds it leads" is the journalistic motto, right? So to latch onto the doomsday-2012 misconception gives the media a two-fer: lunatics and bloodshed.
Q: - What do you think 2012 is going to look like? You see it as a time for renewal, but do you have any theories as to what it will actually look like? Whatever it is, it probably won't make for a Hollywood disaster film.
JMJ: The most likely and visible wide-spread thing happening in 2012 will be more of Carnival 2012, more stupidity and misinformation, bad reporting, and Hollywood shlock. And if there's any doubt that the scenario will turn out that way, the media and press will make it so. 2012? Cue the laugh track. Meanwhile, the real breakthroughs on what the ancient Maya believed and what the modern Maya are doing --- which is itself profound and fascinating but can't compete with E! News --- will be quietly available for those who can pierce through the b.s. A clarification: It doesn't matter if I see it as a time of renewal. It's not about me. I shout into the noise of 2012 disinformation that there is compelling evidence that the ancient Maya conceived of 2012 as a time of renewal. My work is geared toward reconstructing what the ancient Maya believed about 2012. But let's not feed the cult of personality. I'm not setting myself up on the stage as a guy who's opinion should be followed; I'm not running for office. I'm reporting the results of research. People who can read and reason can judge for themselves.
Q: - Your theory about why the Mayans picked 2012 to be significant, in section 2, is really interesting, but I'm afraid I don't quite follow it entirely. Particularly the part about the solstice dark rift alignment. Would you mind please clarifying?
JMJ: This would require a long conversation, but it's not rocket science. A rare alignment within the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes is culminating in the years around 2012. It's defined as "the alignment of the December solstice sun with the dark rift in the Milky Way." It's real astronomy, not a mystical concept. There is evidence that the ancient Maya intended their cycle ending to coincide with this alignment. Furthermore, it wasn't just astronomical science to them. They built a Creation Myth around the future alignment, which contains spiritual teachings. Google "What is the Galactic Alignment?" for a Web page I've had up for ten years. It’s unfortunate that my work to reconstruct ancient Maya cosmology, including the role of the galactic alignment in the 2012 calendar, has been used and abused by other writers who use it for their own purposes. Readers should go back to my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 for the accurate information.
John Major Jenkins
The piece was put together and ran in May 2010. It is here:
My quote is in the section below:
And it all goes down in 2012. December 21, 2012, to be exact. Just as the ancient Mayans predicted.
What might save us: Nothing. Well, if you’re among the world’s 400,000 foremost minds and snootiest elites, you’re granted access to one of four massive arks hidden in the Himalayas. Otherwise, you can either cough up one billion Euros—even with apocalypse pending, the dollar is weak—or, like John Cusack, hijack a plane to Yellowstone, where a crazy man left a map detailing the arks’ location.
Expert opinion: First things first: Uh, no. “The Maya time concept is cyclical, and cycle endings are about transformation and renewal,” says John Major Jenkins, who has devoted his life to studying Mayan cosmology and philosophy, including reconstructing what the Mayans believed about 2012. (He’s also appeared in numerous documentaries on the subject, and written several books.) “The idea of an apocalyptic doomsday comes from the linear time concept of Western Judeo-Christianity. As such, to equate doomsday with 2012 is a weird and wildly flawed projection of the assumptions of one tradition onto another, as wrong as showing Shiva holding a Bible.” Jenkins says the Mayans chose 2012 because of what’s known as the Galactic Alignment, or “the alignment of the December solstice sun with the dark rift in the Milky Way,” as Jenkins describes it. The Mayans clearly had an advanced understanding of astronomy, and even based a creation myth on this distant time in the far-flung future when this fascinatingly wrong film was released. “It basically makes the Maya the scapegoat for our own culture’s nihilistic doomsday fetish,” Jenkins adds. Sounds like Roland Emmerich all the way.
This was a far better conveying of my ideas than has often occurred on supposedly more reputable news media, like AP, Newsweek, or CNN. Curiously, “bad astronomer” Phil Plait (also interviewed for the piece) posted an self-aggrandizing announcement with comments on Slate (link: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2010/06/03/area_astronomer_interviewed_in_the_onion.html):
Guess which astronomer with two thumbs was interviewed in this week's A. V. Club section of The Onion?
This guy! OK, that joke works better if you could see me pointing at myself with my thumbs, but you get it. I hope.
Anyway, yeah, I was interviewed for America's Finest News Source about end of the world scenarios as they pertain to terrible, terrible Hollywood movies. Of course, we talked asteroid impacts and that cinematic crapsterpiece, "Armageddon".
Despite my brilliant contributions, however, the article fails in two ways. One, in the online version they put me on page two (in the print version it's like page 20). Page 2! The shame. And B, when it comes to 2012, they did a straight interview with John Major Jenkins, a guy who makes all sorts of weird claims about the Mayans. Apparently, unlike almost every 2012 crackpot out there, Jenkins says there's nothing to worry about in 2012, but then goes on to say that the Mayans knew about a major Galactic alignment and loads of other things that are clearly wrong. I guess that makes him better than the chuckleheads claiming 2012 will see the Earth cracking in half like an egg or something, but by how much is unclear.
Still and all, the article is pretty in-depth and funny, and worth perusing just to relive all the times you've thrown away money on box-office sewage.
The link that redirects for proof that I make “all sorts of weird claims” is: http://the2012deception.net/?p=334, an under-informed and anonymous debunking site, run, as usual, by cowardly energy vampires. There was an attempt to deconstruct the galactic alignment astronomy. I responded to the admin, a guy named Chris who also posts Youtube anti-2012 screeds. To support his view of me he links to a talk by David Morrison: http://fora.tv/2010/04/24/David_Morrison_Surviving_2012_and_Other_Cosmic_Disasters. This presentation was one of the many fantabulously misleading character assassination pieces on me by David Morrison. It was given at the David Bower Center in Berkeley, California on April 24, 2010. He asserts that my work is dedicating to showing that the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012, and that I believe the Maya doomsday calendar was constructed with the help of "friendly aliens". So, thanks to the clueless and false assertions of David Morrison, who comes with such accolades (see below), we see a chain of disinformation going from him to “Chris” at Deception2012 to Phil Plait.
Bio. Dr. David Morrison is the Director
of the NASA Lunar Science Institute and Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at
the NASA Ames Research Center. He holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard and
is internationally known for his research on small bodies in the solar system,
including advocacy for developing plans to defend the Earth from impacts by
comets and asteroids.
A Fellow of CSI, he has written extensively on such fringe science topics as Velikovsky, cosmic catastrophes, UFOs, the creation science movement, and most recently the climate crisis caused by global warming. For the past two years he has been the primary scientist critic of the widespread fear that the world will end in 2012, and of the doomsday sleaze artists who use the Internet, blogs, and cable TV to frighten people for profit. Dr. Morrison's discussion largely centers around the hoax of 2012.