Response to David Freidel by John Major Jenkins
back to Update2012.com
May 18, 2009
Thank you for sending such a meaty morsel to sink my teeth into. This large power point / PDF that you sent me to assess invites a rather lengthy review, especially when many of the slides convey mistaken notions about me and my work. I believe that my detailed treatment will bear this out. I note you mention that your student, Stan Guenter, has prepared this presentation. I expect you endorse or concur with it, since it seems to have been something you actually used in a presentation. As a result, you should consider my comments directed at both you and Stanley. However, it will be unfair to expect me to deal with lengthy responses from each of you which may repeat certain predictable critiques, so try to get together on that. Finally, please understand that I occasionally have taken a sardonic attitude towards the misrepresentation of my work that you've taken upon yourself to propagate. This is probably the healthiest position considering the circumstances (your baseless slanderous public accusation against me). So don't read too much vitriol into my comments, as can sometimes happen in written exchanges. I am most interested not in the kind of mudslinging that occurred in the Newsweek piece, but in being understood and understanding our mutual positions in regard to 2012, a topic that many scholars such as yourself have lately been turning their attention towards.
In this regard, you stated in your email that you saw your role was to expose and debunk "connections between human destiny and cosmic patterns as you propose in your writings." This could be a very short exchange David, because your assumption that this is my agenda/position/belief is absolutely incorrect. It probably seems correct to you to the extent that you have only a superficial understanding of my work. This mission statement sets the stage for debunking me via exposing the fallacy of astrological causality. The first section of my 1992 book Tzolkin explored the causal fallacy of astrology. I repeat: the conviction that astrology is causally fallacious has been my position for almost twenty years, a conclusion arrived at after a detailed, discerning, and conscious engagement with causal arguments, as well as more profound models of subject/object interrelationship. However, the main point, apart from correcting your misunderstanding of my position on astrological causality, is that my "galactic alignment theory" does not hinge upon the galactic alignment being causally, or even acausally, efficacious. My work is oriented toward reconstructing the original beliefs of those who put the Long Count in place. If we reconstruct the paradigm on Sumerian healing practices, we don't have to prove that they work in order for them to have once existed. As I'll clarify below, some of the confusion may be due to my own inattention to providing these caveats every time the galactic alignment topic was broached, a tedious proposition but one which I tried to address by adopting, for example, the phrase "era-2012." This was not a correction of a previous erroneous belief in the absolute accuracy of the alignment calculation, but a clarification of terminology deemed necessary due to the appearance of subsequent misreadings of my work.
It is my hope that you can and will assess and respond to what my work is actually about. For example, you seem to think that my intended demographic is a gullible soft-hearted public. Not so. It's the community of thinking people including, sometimes, Maya scholars, who should know how to process deductive reasoning, evidence, and an interdisciplinary synthesis that meets the needs of the evidence assembled. I see this exchange as an opportunity to clarify what my intentions are. In the process I will be forced to defend myself from several misconceptions you have about me, my work, and my associations. If we can get beyond that, which I will try not to belabor, I hope our exchange will be mutually beneficial.
First off, my writings range over a wide spectrum of implications and areas of interest. In consideration of the galactic alignment (a real astronomical phenomenon), I had openly wondered whether such a phenomenon might indeed have causative effects. The fact that the ecliptic passes through the nuclear bulge of the galactic center suggests the statistically probability of some kind of entrainment. Likewise, the fact that our solar system is roughly 25,000-27,000 light years from the galactic center also evokes the curiosity of an open minded person. I placed on the table some speculations in consideration of these unusual facts in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment. But my speculations around this are not the heart of my work, and are not presented as a key to understanding what the ancient Maya perceived. I believe I've been conscientious as well as emphatic in making this distinction, although I have been naïve in believing that critics would honor the distinction being made. That communication breakdown does not lie entirely with me. Your critique of my work is misleading in that you conflate one area of my writing, which are sideline speculations designated as such, with my reconstruction work, which proceeds upon evidence and deduction. This is also what Anthony Aveni does, which at best engages intellectual gamesmanship and rhetorical sparring rather than the thing-in-itself. Even in those "sideline speculations" I don't assert that the alignment definitely has causative effects. Again, your accusation that I proselytize a doctrine of astrological causation to a gullible public is baseless.
Along these lines, you seem to have selected the old debate about astrology as a way to discredit what you perceive to be one of my primary beliefs, and that you believe I proselytize to an unsuspecting public. I've stated many times that my work does not require that the galactic alignment has causative effects. My goal has been to reconstruct: 1) why the ancient Maya placed the end of their 13-baktun cycle on December 21, 2012 and 2) what they thought about cycle endings, in terms of their spiritual / religious beliefs.
On the first point, the implication that 12-21-2012 is indeed an intentional artifact is at least a working hypothesis, because it falls on a solstice. This is the statistical probability, even after the fudging of John Justeson (his stated argument at the Tulane conference, February 2009; also mentioned on Aztlan), which was intended to reduce the odds. To assume this is chance indicates a lack of appreciation, or knowledge, of the abundant evidence that the ancient Maya knew the tropical year was longer than 365 days but not simply 365.25 days long (Michael Grofe can summarize the evidence if you like). Since Justeson couldn't reduce the odds below 50/50, the logical rationalist is still compelled to investigate the solstice occurrence in the likelihood that it was intentional. This immediately calls into question David Stuart's assertion, reported in a CNN interview, that "There is no serious scholar who puts any stock in the idea that the Maya said anything meaningful about 2012."
Given the astronomical setting (the solstice calculation), the line of investigation that I began pursuing in the early 1990s led further into astronomy. Eventually, through the work of the Tedlocks and other scholars like David Kelley, Susan Milbrath, Gordon Brotherston, Marion Popenoe Hatch, and Raphael Girard, I identified the galactic alignment as a possible culprit. It was especially intriguing when you projected the alignment as naked-eye astronomers could have done in ancient times, in which certain astronomical features come into play that are known to be important players in Maya cosmology. These include the dark-rift, the cross formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic, and the Milky Way itself. I was led to Izapa as a compelling place because of Michael Coe's statement about its probable role in the adoption of the Long Count, a position now supported by Prudence Rice's Maya Calendar Origins. I noted as I studied the BYU archaeological reports that the Group F ballcourt was pointed toward the December solstice sunrise horizon; the seating stones and throne on the west end indicate the direction of orientation. All of these things provide the basis for my research, which proceeds along the lines of an interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis.
The astronomical image-complex of sun-in-dark-rift is not unlike the astronomical
image complex that Barb MacLeod discovered, of the hearthstones. My readings
of the carved monuments at Izapa, in light of astronomical orientations, historical
context, and the use of ballgame / Creation Myth imagery, have indeed been neglected,
avoided, and misunderstood by scholars, as you alluded to. Case in point is
your (Stanley's) presentation's avoidance of any mention of my work at Izapa,
contenting yourself to base your criticisms on a string of incorrect innuendos,
which I'll come to in a minute.
FYI, you may be interested to know that my "galactic alignment theory" in its basic form is simply an attempt to show that the ancient Maya, or pre-Maya, who formulated the Long Count were intending the 13-baktun cycle end date in 2012 to target the alignment of the December solstice sun with the dark-rift in the Milky Way. It may be that the crossing point formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic was an equally important reference point which, like the dark rift, has important meanings in Maya iconography and Creation Mythology. That's the nuts-and-bolts reconstruction that I've been working on. Of course I'm not presenting all the arguments here, and you can't expect me to recapitulate the evidence, deductions, and arguments I've laid out in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 and elaborated since then in various articles.
Two things: since writing that book 12-15 years ago I've learned to be more precise and cautious in how I write about and talk about the galactic alignment, precisely because scholars, the media, and critics of every ilk will pick up on the minutest item in order to cast aspersions. That's fine; and so I was called upon to assess the astronomy of the galactic alignment more carefully and introduce, nay emphasize, the idea that it wasn't something to happen precisely on December 21, 2012. Again, this was largely in response to mistaken interpretations of my work, partly due to me not being rigorous enough in providing the necessary caveat every single time I mentioned the alignment. So, I never believed the cycle-ending alignment calculation involved perfect precision or that Maya astronomers were flawless, as you mention with the examples of inaccurate lunar data. That never was a requirement of my work, nor was it something I emphasized, and I can only imagine that you've just picked up generalized and poorly paraphrased ideas about my work from the Googlesphere. I addressed the same critique from Susan Milbrath as echoed by Anthony Aveni, in the pages of the Institute of Maya Studies newsletter. I'll send PDFs if you'd care to see it, which include Milbrath's response.
Secondly, you should be aware that my work is receiving new support from scholars whose work I believe you will appreciate. This comes from Barb MacLeod's and Michael Grofe's work that shows the Classic Maya appear to have had an accurate estimate of the tropical year as well as precession. Also, Dr. Grofe's open-minded and skillful astronomical decipherment of the Tortuguero Monument 6 text, which Stephen Houston said was "a bit boring" and David Stuart said "didn't tell us much," actually suggests very strongly that the idea of the sun aligning with the dark rift was a known concept. Parallel texts at Copan, Piedras Negras, Tikal, and Palenque lend additional support. In short, several dates in the Tortuguero text reveal highly accurate calculations of both the sidereal and tropical years. Michael will be glad to share with you his findings, showing how they relate to our work, if you are interested in seeing them. (I say "our work" because these Tortuguero discoveries emerged in a dialogue following our meeting in Tulane, in part inspired by my work on the astronomical content of Copan Stela C, 220.127.116.11.0.)
The ideology and imagery involved in these inscriptions indicate that the Maya most likely saw the dark rift as a place of transformation. Now we come to the more intangible side of my work, but no less subject to rational rigor, which involves elucidating how the Maya may have thought about 2012. This is a question that is never asked in venues such as Newsweek. When I am asked what 2012 "means" I always couch my response with an acknowledgement as to how the Maya see (and saw) period endings. However, interviewers like Lisa Miller have an agenda and selectively cut and edit my words, which is why I am tolerant of critics who are in all likelihood not reading my work but seeing it through the distorted lens of mainstream media. I doubt you have had the pleasure of being whipsawed by idiotic journalists as much as I have, and beg you to not follow in their footsteps.
How did the Maya think about cycle endings? Well, big or small, cycle endings are about transformation and renewal. Furthermore, this process is facilitated by sacrifice. That's all. There is no implication here as to my personal beliefs or agenda in duping a gullible public. If you disagree with this assessment, as a broadly correct way to explain how the Maya thought (and still think) about cycle endings, I'd like to hear it. If you are insistent on dispensing with this perspective you'd better have some pretty sweet rhetorical gymnastics up your sleeve. Other scholars have only offered opinionated assertions rather than reasonable fact-based arguments. Just as we do, the Maya invest period endings with meaning, and there is every reason to recognize that greater period endings bring with them greater significance. Certainly, many contemporary Maya have become interested in their ancient traditions. For example, a prominent spokesman for the modern Maya thinks of 2012 as a time of renaissance (renewal) that requires the transformation of existing injustice. This is Victor Montejo, author of Maya Intellectual Renaissance, who speaks of the "baktunian movement" in relation to 2012. So, if you can muster no respect for me expressing this perspective, at least give some to one of your colleagues. Hunbatz Men he is not.
The subtitle of Lisa Miller's Newsweek piece was an excerpt from my book published in 1998. She craftily conflated it with a spurious Y2K association. The entire context of the statement, which she cleverly left out, was intended to express the Maya's World Age doctrine (emphasis on worldrenewal; see Davíd Carrasco), applied to 2012 as a cycle ending. In terminology that I would not prefer to use today, I expressed the idea of world-renewal, transformation, and the passing (sacrifice) of the old Age / Sun. This, again, is merely an expression of how the Maya themselves conceived of any cycle ending. Further down in the Newsweek piece, your metaphor for 2012 is given: 2012 is a vehicle's odometer clicking back to zero. So, let's break this down:
Person speaking: what does 2012 mean?
John transformation & renewal
David a mechanical odometer resetting
Your preference for a modern mechanical metaphor as opposed to a conceptual metaphor that is true to the Maya's own way of conceptualizing cycle endings is problematic.
By the way, if you think that money was a motivation to me to pursue the things I have, you have that exactly upside down. Since 1985 I've spent so much of my own money traveling to sites, doing volunteer work among the Maya, and so on that I'll never recoup that unless Oprah falls in love with me. This was not money pulled out of a trust fund, but money I earned and saved working multiple jobs for months and years. Whose money do you spend when you pursue your research? You might want to remind yourself that you too have published popular books in the trade marketplace and have counted the royalty pennies.
One more quick thing about Tortuguero. I assume you haven't read my response to Stephen Houston on his wordpress blog: http://decipherment.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/what-will-not-happen-in-2012/. Because if you did we would really have something interesting to talk about. In it, I reiterate what Houston himself points out but fails to attribute any meaning to: that 2012 was used as a reference point for a building's dedication. The analogy between house and cosmos renders this association meaningful, providing evidence for a specific way that the cycle ending in 2012 was being conceived and referenced it was a cosmological creation event worthy of being invoked to consecrate the local "house" dedication, or birthing/creation. Parallel birthing between microcosm and macrocosm is, I'm sure you are aware, a fundamental idea of Maya thought. The meaningful parallel was obvious, but neglected, because of Houston's pre-ordained agenda to render 2012 as meaningless as possible (Houston said it was "a bit boring.") This attitude does not serve our understanding of the dang an sich. And it fell to the clueless charlatan to point that out. What did Houston do here? Let's see here . one who poses as an authority, asserts things that are counter to the evidence, and as a result deceives the public . Hmm, that sounds like a pretty good definition of a charlatan.
If I may provide an enlarged quote from Houston, I think we can identity where scholars, including you, are doing the discussion on 2012 a great disservice:
"Whatever Monument 6 has to tell us pertains to the dedication of the building associated with the sculpture. It has nothing to do with prophecy or the supposed, dread events that await us in AD 2012. About that the Maya are notably silent . . . or, truth be told, a bit boring." (From the wordpress blog)
You see, he's is assuming, based on what he sees in the pop marketplace, that 2012 is about the dread events that await us, a.k.a. doomsday. You take the same approach, in Slide 6 of your power point presentation, and inaccurately conflate my work with that of Lawrence Joseph's. The first words on your slide are "The latest craze: doomsday." If you have any concern for not misinforming your audiences, I'd suggest you change the implication of that slide, as my association with such a position is demonstrably incorrect. It does reveal to what degree your analysis of my work fails to proceed on facts and on an understanding of what my work is actually about. It is true that the rest of the text on that slide mentions other concepts, including the galactic alignment, but the impact of your doomsday association is undeniable. This would be like placing a picture of you in between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden with the subheading "The three bearded ones-they stick to their guns!"
So, Geoff Stray's book and my book, which has "cosmogenesis" in the title but is nevertheless placed side-by-side with "Apocalypse 2012," are visually reinforced as doomsday books via guilt by association. Someone must have minored in marketing/advertisement. Here are a couple of amazing ironies with this Slide #6, typical of many of your slides: Geoff Stray (Beyond 2012) has reviewed virtually every single doomsday theory connected with 2012 and has demonstrated that they are all based on misconceptions, fallacious opinions, incorrect data, or internally inconsistent assertions. Each one, Stray demonstrates, fails a rational assessment. Did you know that? Stray himself not only does not offer a doomsday interpretation, he slays on grounds of rational analysis everyone who does. Your association of him with Lawrence Joseph and the doomsday tribe is about as incorrect as it can possibly be, on par with depicting Abe Lincoln as a slave trader.
Stray and I both have written and published reviews of Lawrence Joseph's nihilistic doomsday book, actually engaging and responding to his writings. Have you done that? I'd suppose you or Stan wouldn't have the time or inclination, and would be content to simply stereotype vastly different authors into one category. That is incredibly undiscerning. So, what you have done is place two non-doomsday authors side by side with a doomsday author in a slide intended to introduce the "latest craze: doomsday." Furthermore, the two non-doomsday authors you depicted are virtually the only two authors who cared enough about clarity in the 2012 discussion to actually engage the third author's ideas and provide reasoned critique, rather than merely toss a bunch of people together in the same pile.
Your subsequent four or five slides have a fun time with criticizing various authors and their books. Aveni did that too, at Tulane in February. The crowds love that, don't they? In slide 19 you mention James Randi and the "intellectual vacuity" of astrology. Sure, the surface level of anything is going to be a distorted joke. In subsequent slides you nod to Carl Sagan and speak about the causal basis of astrology, and invoke the typical cliché of gravitational effects of Jupiter being next to nil. Again, this well-known causal argument, intended to argue against something you believe I ascribe to, is misplaced and mistaken.
Slides 24 and 25. Here in 24 you again use the dubious mechanical odometer metaphor and pose the question, "but what did that mean to them [the Maya]?" For some reason in Slide 25 you picture Jack van Impe and conclude "2012 is a major milestone in the Maya calendar, but is an unimportant date for the rest of the world." Wow, do you really have your finger on the pulse of 6.7 billion people, and can speak for them? Your Facebook page must be bursting at the seams. But seriously, Let's look at this. You accept that 2012 is a major milestone, thus a valid artifact - at least as a mechanical placeholder or turning point. Your mechanical metaphor is, I believe, insufficient as it shrouds any sense for how the ancient Maya would have thought about this "milestone." Do you really believe they envisioned an odometer? I mean, Calleman and Arguelles make up their own inappropriate modern systems and metaphors for how we should think about 2012 - I hope you weren't intentionally doing that too. ;-)
As I described earlier, cycle endings for the Maya were about transformation and renewal. We can take another clue from the Popol Vuh to understand how the ancient Maya thought about big cycle endings. In the doctrine of the World Ages in the Popol Vuh, every cycle ending is attended by, you guessed it! - transformation and renewal (with the understanding that a sacrifice is necessary in order to facilitate a successful transformation and renewal). Guess what? This "formula" of sacrifice-transformation-renewal is a fundamental truism of world-wide spiritual traditions and religions. In comparison, your odometer is a flatland mechanical metaphor that conceals a recognizably profound meaning-one that students/audiences/readers deserve to be apprised of (unless we are wanting to conceal something from them). This is the more intangible aspect of my work, beyond the nuts-and-bolts reconstruction work. It is an approach to the material that identifies the underlying archetypal structure of Maya teachings.
In a global context of studying world religions, the identification of certain fundamental truths is well known from the work of Joseph Campbell and other comparative mythologists. Maya Studies has been largely outside of the purview of this approach, and one of my interests is in nominating Maya religion for inclusion as one of the perennial wisdom traditions. It proceeds upon the basis of the principle of sacrifice-transformation-renewal previously described, as well as emergent efforts among Maya leaders to identify a cross-the-board Mayanism (a concept, and term, which precedes and is oppositional to John Hoopes's pejorative appropriation of the term in his Wikipedia entry). You may disagree with this observation and this effort, but if you find my methods flimsy or somehow wrapped up in profit seeking or deceiving the public, I'd suggest you take a closer look at what I've written about this.
In Slide 26, you depict my work and mention the representation of my work on History Channel and elsewhere. If most of what you understand about my work has been garnered from these programs, then your various misconceptions are understandable. In these venues, my work has been distorted and co-opted for purposes that have little to do with what I state and believe. Often, they use me for their doomsday agenda. I've written extensively about this problem with the media and how it conveniently misinforms my critics, who are already irrationally biased toward my work.
Slide 27. Uh Oh. I hope you were using this slide to illustrate what the galactic alignment IS NOT. Otherwise, you have fallen prey to the Googlesphere. The orbit of our solar system around the galactic center takes place on the order of 280,000,000 years, and because of the spiraling motion of the spiral arms our solar system moves above and below the galactic midplane at roughly 60 million years intervals. We are currently far above the midplane, moving away. Many writers conflate my precession-based galactic alignment theory with this idea. I see in Slide 28 you are portraying the galactic alignment correctly. However, you are neglecting to include in your diagrams any identified references to the astronomical features relevant to naked eye skywatchers, which include the dark rift and the crossroads. This would make the situation conceptually compelling in terms of the presence of these features in ballgame symbolism and the Creation Mythology.
By slide 29 you have stumbled into the Nibiru material. To segue from my alignment theory to Nibiru is, I think, a non-sequitur misrepresentation of the galactic alignment information. In skipping so lightly over my work on this topic you give the impression to your unsuspecting viewers that somehow my work, Graham Hancock's, and the Nibiru idea go hand in hand. When, in fact, as with the Stray-Jenkins-Joseph conflation in slide 6, I have provided critical assessments of both Hancock's work and the Nibiru theory, engaging the details.
Your statement in Slide 30 misrepresents what I've stated many times since the early 1990s. You use the term "will"; I use the term "may." The distinction is important because my observations are based upon the application of the principle of sacrifice that the Maya believe cycle endings require for a successful transformation and renewal. And again, I don't see this as a pre-ordained causative effect of the galactic alignment. I've suggested ways that the alignment "might" be related to energy shifts in the biosphere, but those were not presented as definitive assertions. If they seemed as such, my apologies. It's true that in recent years I've tried to have a more nuanced approach to this aspect of the discussion, mainly because of the way that critics have misread my intentions. I hope you choose to honor my more recent and carefully expressed ideas, which, as previously, do not require that the galactic alignment has demonstrable causative effects in order for my reconstruction of an ancient precession-based cosmology targeting era-2012 to have once been formulated by the ancient Maya.
I'm not sure what the point of your slide 32 is. I was the first person who
carefully defined and discussed the temporal and spatial variables of the galactic
alignment process in light of Maya astronomical concepts that are well known,
honestly assessing its actual parameters. Somehow you twist this into an accusation
of duplicity. I believe I was referring to the 14-year discrepancy as being
"amazingly accurate." Don't you think this is so in terms of a forward
calculation in precession of some 2,100 years? At any rate, even this level
of accuracy is not required. I've stated that perhaps 100 year on either side
of the precise alignment would have been acceptable; now, however, new evidence
for precessional calculations in the Serpent Series of Dresden (Grofe's work)
show the capability of very accurate precessional calculations.
Your slide 33 asserts an incorrect understanding of my connections with Hunbatz Men, which equally applies to other "showmen," such as Carlos Barrios, whose questionable appropriation of other's work I have written about. I spoke at a conference that Hunbatz Men organized in Merida in 1998. One of the things that I did in my presentation was show that the tzolkin day-count Men was following was given to him by Jose Arguelles, and it was completely wrong! I've also spent lots of time exposing the errors of the Arguelles system, pointing out that while the 260-day count still survives in the highlands the Long Count, and any remembrance of 2012, has been long gone. That's been my stated position for a very long time. So, in the act of giving the impression that I'm in cahoots with and beholden to Maya charlatans, you then report the exact same thing that I've been saying for many years. I've also demonstrated the circular logic used by Lounsbury in supporting his 285 correlation, which some books have propagated to the detriment of clarity on that front.
Beyond the nut-and-bolts reconstruction of a precession-based astronomy pointing to 2012, which should be assessed on the grounds of documented evidence and argument, my position on where a valid Maya prophecy for 2012 can be found is less supported by hard primary facts but is nevertheless supported by the insightful interpretive work of Gordon Brotherston and others. It is motivated by the dual expression of the World Age doctrine found in both the calendrical operation of the 13-baktun cycle and in the Hero Twin Myth / Popol Vuh. You might want to peruse my bibliography of sources that have contributed to my understanding of this conceptual link-up between the World Age doctrine in the Popol Vuh and the 13-Baktun cycle in the Long Count: http://Alignment2012.com/bibbb.htm This equation has been subjected to hilarious nitpicky debates on Aztlan and elsewhere, so if you prefer consensus I would not expect you to agree with me on this. Nevertheless, if we at least entertain the notion that the events and teachings in the Hero Twin episodes of the Popol Vuh were intended to represent a generalized understanding of what unfolds during the liminal zone between Ages (during period endings), then we do have a valid resource for understanding what the Maya believed "would happen" at a big World Age cycle ending (thus, in 2012). If this seems wildly inappropriate, consider the following.
Victor Montejo and other Maya leaders look to the Popol Vuh as a kind of archetypal framework for understanding the dynamics at play in the world as we approach 2012. Montejo, for example, sees corporate greed, corrupt leaders, and governmental injustice as an expression of the controlling greed and deceit of Seven Macaw, who had to be done away with as a prerequisite to the Twin's resurrection of their father at the end of the cycle. I'm on board with Montejo on this; in fact, years ago I applied a Joseph Campbell style analysis (comparative analysis / interdisciplinary synthesis) of the archetypal content of the Hero Twin myth and proposed this reading. So, when you say these interpretations were "conjured up out of fertile imaginations and owe nothing to the ancient Maya themselves" you just haven't done your homework. Now, you may disagree, but try to be fully informed before you pass judgment. This way of interpreting Maya mythology will never probably satisfy an archaeologist's needs for hard data, so you might have to open up the context a little and not be so authoritatively pejorative in your assessments, especially when my position is congruent with that of one of your colleagues who happens to be an ethnic Maya. Myths are living stories that relate important experience and wisdom. They will always be reinterpreted to suit current needs, and to bring the present into accord with the past, and with the cosmos.
Slide 37. As mentioned earlier, the significance I see in Tortuguero Monument 6 is not based upon spinning fancies out of the half-missing glyph. It's based on the use of the date, and the Bolon Yokte Ku deity, to oversee (be present at) the 7th-century building dedication. The meaning is derived from the conceptual parallel between "house" and "cosmos" that is well documented. There is also an important finding made by Dr Michael Grofe, once a grad-student epigrapher for the hieroglyphic database project led by Macri and Looper, which involves the Tortuguero king Bahlam Ajaw. Again, if you are interested Michael will send you what he has. Barb MacLeod is doing work of similar importance, in regard to the 3-11 Pik formula.
Slide 38. That 2012 was conceived as a cosmological creation event is testified by its used on Tortuguero Monument 6, properly understood and as previously elaborated. Also, one would expect this to be so by analogy with the 13-baktun cycle ending in 3114 BC as well as by way of how the Maya generally conceived of cycle endings (renewal). Also, the presence of the deity Bolon Yokte Ku is relevant, though has been dismissed by scholars commenting on the text: Bolon Yokte Ku is a usual suspect(s) in other Creation narratives, such as the Vase of the Seven Gods and elsewhere. Thus, Terence McKenna's words, which echo my own, to the effect that 2012 was conceived as a "creation" event, is not far fetched at all. Thus, your assertion at the end of Slide 38 is mitigated and rendered dubious by the fact that the cycle-ending date falls on an accurate solstice. If 2012 "wasn't important for the Maya," as you assert, how do you explain this? Coincidence? If not a coincidence, then logic prevails in the likelihood that it did have some kind of meaning for the creators of the Long Count.
In consideration of your conclusion, which indicts "New Age" people as failed irrationalists and their "gnostic leaders" as worse, you might want to revisit your assertion that "2012 had no meaning for the ancient Maya." Do you really think you can make such an absolute and final judgment? I take a strong position because the evidence that yours is an incorrect assertion is voluminous, and you might want to investigate further with a more open mind. For example, you apparently haven't even yet grappled with the implications of Compelling Fact Numero Uno, which Aveni also evaded in his Tulane talk until I forced the issue, as an audience member pointing out the obvious: the 13-Baktun cycle end date falls on a solstice.