The ABC News website ‘ABC.go’ recently posted an article explaining that the meme-worthy and oft-referenced Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 appears to have been postponed. It seems that a misinterpretation of the Mayan system of calculating dates may have bumped the destruction of everything back by one hundred years.
The internet can wait while your jubilations are exhausted.
A reader merely skimming the text may feel better as a result, but it seems equally likely that a torrent of drool ought to have shorted out their netbook. This could be, a more tolerant reader might add, just news fluff and of no harm at all. This is possible, but there is something about the piece that is just not right. A quality persists, like an ephemeral scent in the air. The text seems innocuous enough albeit silly, but the nostrils of this particular analogy still flare at the hint of that scent. That’s the smell of stupid.
The ABC, GO! story states that the Mayan Apocalypse may not warrant much concern but for no other reason than the math might be off by a smidge.
First off, it seems a shame that someone used actual math – numbers that might have been used instead for inventing better telescopes and waffle irons – on the nerdly details of a premise so faulty that it mistakes the pages of a calendar for the destruction of all human life.
Secondly, the author must have dislocated a lobe or a cortex in the fierce mental contortions needed to smear this text onto your monitor and avoid even accidentally passing on the thinnest scintilla of meaningful fact. Despite words, sentences and a serious, almost-a-newspaper font, the piece seems designed to actually leave the world with less knowledge than had previously existed.
Rather than even attempt to address the frivolity of the 2012 Doomsday scenario, ABC News reports the matter as they would the cancellation of a pie-eating contest. To their credit, they do deploy quotation marks when using words like “end-of-days” and since they posted the thing, that effort alone must cut the mustard as their measure of editorial responsibility.
The ABC News article is precisely the kind of mushy, brain-stalling, stupor-inducing pseudo fact that is anathema to critical thinking and bars the way to serious contemplation of the silliest of notions, up to and including, “my gazebo is a spacecraft piloted by gnomes”.
This may seem like exaggeration, but the common denominator of the information we are given has not just been lowered, it’s been traumatized. The common denominator is lying in bed right now amid a debris field of empty ice cream tubs, crying like Lindsay Lohan at trial.
There is no Mayan Apocalypse and ABC “News” never hints at this. The Mayan Long Count calendar is built in great long ages and the last one they really bothered with just happens to end (maybe) in December of 2012. They never got any further because they were too busy having their culture wiped out, a topic that would make a much better story than the last page of the Farmer’s Almanac bringing on Universal Armageddon.
Any calendar is as germane to the fate of the world as the fact that phonebooks are published annually. When the new phone book comes out it’s not as if someone shows up at the door and motions for you to enter a big garbage truck; it is not your time to be replaced by the new crop of humans.
ABC News must know all of this, but they don’t want to upset anybody. So, the quotation marks do the journalism.
Among the boils of brain puss that have been built around apocalypticism, dates are very common cysts. It meant no more in the year 1000 than it did in 2000 or than it will in 2012. All such numerology is false; even if nature could care about our days and years, it would not. Every human calendar is just that – human – and no more predicts the end of planets, stars and civilizations than the lyrics to MacArthur Park.
In the year 1000, when despair was one of the four food groups and the guy who could almost count to six was the smartest person in his village, you could at least make an argument that they didn’t know any better.
We ought to know better now. The story has shown up on Yahoo, the bewildering Huffington Post and a wad of other sources. People will read it and may never think of the underlying foolishness. If anyone ever asks why critical thinking is so important, show them that article, and the thousands like it. We’re swimming in hollow noise posing as information.
Thanks, ABC “News”.