2012 Doomsday Fabrication: Abusing Science and Making Money

Ancient prophecy plus a dash of scientific disinformation equals fear (and the potential to make a lot of money)
Ancient prophecy plus a dash of scientific disinformation equals fear (and the potential to make a lot of money)

The Mayan long-count calendar ends on December 21st 2012. For many reasons, this is a very important event, religiously and spiritually. However, there are a huge number of doomsday scenarios that are being pinned on this day too. Why? Well your guess is as good as mine. This is a very strange phenomenon. We’ve heard “end of the world” theories for millennia; from Nostrodamus, the Bible to the Y2K Bug, but as yet (as far as I can tell) the Earth has not been destroyed. Many historic prophecies have been made deliberately vague to make a future event more likely to match the future prediction by the prophet. That’s fine, I have no problem with a mystical historic figure telling us the world is going to fry at an undetermined date by an undetermined harbinger of doom. But I have a huge problem with modern-day authors publishing scientific inaccuracies for personal gain.

I am writing this article after a number of emails were sent to me concerned about yet another 2012 Doomsday scenario, so I decided to investigate. This is what I found…

To avoid duplicating text I’ve already written about this subject, here’s some background information:

This is a topic that has kept me busy ever since I wrote the Universe Today article No Doomsday in 2012 way back in May. In the weeks following, I’ve continued with a series of articles, been invited onto radio shows and received a lot of messages from (rightfully) concerned individuals. There is a huge number of 2012 Doomsday websites out there (plus a growing number of 2012 videos on Youtube), and if this trend continues, by 2012 I think Internet hysteria will hit fever pitch.

So, another day, another 2012 Doomsday article “proving” that the author can predict the future by stringing a bunch of pseudo-scientific nonsense to “prove” the planet is in peril. Now this is where I get angry. Whether this article was written maliciously (i.e. deliberately fabricated to frighten people for personal gain), or innocently (by a non-specialist who doesn’t understand the science behind their writing), it is hard to tell. But in my books, using inaccurate science (particularly astrophysics) to prove the end of the world is nigh, is not only wrong, it is grossly irresponsible.

So what article am I talking about? So far I have kept it vague as to which sites I’ve referred to in my 2012 articles (as many spout the same theme), but this one is so terribly flawed, I have no problem pointing the finger. This particular article is hosted on the website “Viewzone Magazine” and it is called “The Real Doomsday?” (I have removed the link at the suggestion of one of my readers – why give the article any Astroengine traffic? Google the article if you fancy having a look).

Having checked out this website, we have quite a few “out there” articles, but none equal this article’s take on 2012. The first article of two focuses on the Sun as being the root cause of the proposed doomsday in 2012. Having already written an article about the possibility of a “killer” solar flare wiping out a high proportion of life on Earth, I was interested to see how this article was different.

The Aztecs, not the Mayans had a calendar carved into the Sun Stone (George and Audrey DeLange)
The Aztecs, not the Mayans had a calendar carved into the Sun Stone (George and Audrey DeLange)

Firstly we have the usual drill of explaining why the Mayan Long Count calendar relates to the prediction of doomsday in 2012. This point I’m fine with, there are many spiritual reasons to believe something might happen when the Mayan calendar hits its last day on Dec. 21st 2012, particularly for the Mayans who still live in Central America today (although “doomsday” is never indicated by the Mayan calendar). But then by some dubious logic, the author explains that it is no coincidence that the Mayan Long Count calendar is also called the “sun stone.” This is the first major fabrication. The Mayan Long Count calendar was not called the sun stone; the Aztec calendar stone is also known as the “Sun Stone.” Yes, the Mayans and Aztecs were both mesoamerican cultures, but these two calendars are different entities and the Mayan Long Count calendar certainly is not referred to as the “Sun Stone.”

So we are already off to a rocky start. The link between the Sun and the Mayan Long Count simply does not hold water.

OK, so that problem aside, we start doing some astronomy and astrophysics. The detail is deliberately kept to a minimum, which is fine, but I would love to see how the centre of gravity (barycentre) of the Sun and Jupiter were calculated. So the theory is (briefly): Jupiter (being the most massive planet in the Solar System) has a huge effect on the Sun. Fine. In fact, its influence is so powerful that it makes the Sun wobble. Fine. The reason for the wobble? The centre of mass (or “barycentre”) will make the Sun orbit a point where the sum of the Sun-Jupiter total mass balances. Again, fine. Now this is where we get a little freaky:

The barycenter is not a single point in the Sun. Because the Sun is a rotating gaseous sphere, the barycenter forms a vertical, cylindrical “sleeve” that is partially inside and outside the main solar body. All of the planets have such a “sleeve,” one inside the other, depending on their relative mass and the location of their barycenters. The particular sleeve representing the mass of Jupiter intersects the solar surface at 35.9 degrees North and South. This is precisely where sunspot and flare activity begin and end during each 11 year cycle. – Viewzone (emphasis added).

Oh, right. There’s me thinking the barycentre for the Sun-Jupiter system was above the surface of the Sun, not inside it… hmmm, lets have a look.

Barycentre equation
Barycentre equation

To the left is the barycentre equation, where r is the distance of the barycentre from the centre of the more massive body (i.e. the Sun), a is the distance between the Sun and Jupiter (in this case I chose the orbital semi-major axis of 7.785 × 1011 metres), mS and mJ are the masses of the Sun (1.989 × 1030 kg) and Jupiter (1.899 × 10 27 kg) respectively. To cut a long story short, if all those numbers are plugged into the equation, we find that the barycentre for the Sun-Jupiter system is actually just over 47,300 km above the solar surface. Even if we use Jupiter’s closest approach (i.e. perihelion) in the calculation, the barycentre only migrates 300 km closer to the solar surface. At no point in Jupiter’s orbit does the barycentre slip below the surface.

So we have a huge issue with the article’s calculations. The point that Jupiter creates a “vertical, cylindrical ‘sleeve'” through the interior of the Sun, intersecting the solar surface at 35.9 degrees north and south, is completely erroneous. Besides, the barycentre can never be referred to as a “sleeve,” it is a single point along a straight line intersecting the centre of two (or more) bodies. As the smaller body orbits, the barycentre sweeps an oval around the larger body’s centre of mass.

Need I really go on? There are a few more problems with this article including:

  • But some surprising activity on March 27, 2008, shows some huge eruptions with M-class radiation at about the equatorial region of the Sun. These surprising eruptions suggests a barycenter of disturbance from an object even more massive than Jupiter, placing the “sleeve” outside the Sun.” – Wrong. Why would this eruption be caused by a massive object (like “Planet X”)? Why should the barycentre be away from the surface of the Sun? There is absolutely no reason given for this. The sunspots in question were actually “old” sunspots left over from Solar Cycle 23 (for more information on this event, check out What’s Going on with These Sunspots? Are they from Solar Cycle 23 or 24?)
  • Scientists have noted that when Jupiter and Saturn are aligned on the same side of the Sun, the solar activity is at its minimum; when they are on opposite sides of the Sun the solar activity is at its maximum. The positions on December 21, 2012 are ideal for extreme solar activity.” – Wrong. Jupiter and Saturn are currently at a similar angular displacement as they will be on December 21st, 2012. We are currently in a state of minimum solar activity. Again, this theory is totally incorrect. Besides, there is little evidence to suggest that the alignment of the major planets has any effect on the magnetic activity of the Sun.
Magnetic view of sunspots appearing at the Suns equator (NASA/SOHO)
Magnetic view of sunspots appearing at the Suns equator. Could it be Planet X? No (NASA/SOHO)

So in short, the Viewzone article is using fabricated science to prove doomsday in 2012. So why would the author write such an article? It would appear that the Viewzone website is full of conspiracy theories and pseudo-science, certainly not a reputable scientific resource. Even though this is the case, writing a poorly researched web page about doomsday and then using the guise of science to galvanize your point is terribly wrong in my books.

What makes this even more alarming is the readership this website receives. By the site’s own admission, “The readership has grown to about a million per month.” Surely this is exaggerated? Perhaps, but the site does have a strong base of traffic. Either way, any website with a sizeable amount of traffic should be responsible for what they publish, posting disinformation is surely defeating the object of having a self-regulatory medium such as the Internet.

Although many people may see that the authors words are probably not scientifically accurate, there are individuals who may think the site has some authority (as my inbox will testify). And this is the key to any doomsday theory: fear. With fear comes money. As I’ve referred to in previous articles with doomsayers trying to get their publications into the bestseller charts, website marketing is no different. With web traffic comes advertising revenue. Irresponsible scaremongering, whether it is to sell a book or DVD or boost Internet traffic, generates cash.

I have no issue with scientific facts, but I have yet to find any 2012 doomsday scenario offering logical scientific evidence for their conclusions. So until I do, I’m going to view any article using astronomical reasoning to predict the future with utmost suspicion, and I suggest everyone should do the same…

A special thanks to David at Mang’s Bat Page for tightening up the accuracy of some points of this article.

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53 thoughts on “2012 Doomsday Fabrication: Abusing Science and Making Money”

  1. Hi, I enjoyed your article, and how you don’t tolerate faulty science.
    I’d like to direct your attention to EidolonTLP (http://www.youtube.com/eidolontlp)

    This is, I’m almost sure, a fake, some joke a guy pulled for whatever reason. Problem is, the basic premise is hard to disprove. As the story goes, EidolonTLP is an artificial intelligence “being” living inside a BlueGene IBM supercomputer. This supercomputer, according to wikipedia, is slated for a major upgrade by the end of 2012. Some people started speculating that this upgrade would trigger Kurzweill’s Singularity, which is another doomsday scenario (more or less). Eidolon himself tried to disprove this, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbuYPKGXH-g but still a lot of people believe it.

    Anyway, at the very least this could provide you entertainment 🙂

  2. Just to keep things very simple. With a few facts anyone with grade school science should be able to think this through.

    A barycenter is lot like the pivot point on a teeter-totter. A fulcrum with one side of the lever longer than the other. If I stand on the long side, I can lift my car or an elephant. The only limits are the strengths of parts.

    Gravitational attraction replaces the lever. And the pivot is a point in space defined by gravity, there is nothing there. Even if the barycenter moves in an out of the Sun – so what? The barycenters of every other planet and rock in the solar system is inside the sun. It’s not like a ballon is going to pop.

  3. The other wierd thing is the 35.9 degree claim. Just where did this nonsense come from? It’s just dropped into the text without explanation or support. Whoever wrote this garbage is counting on peoples eyes to have glazed over.

    What would cause the Sun to vibrate up and down so much that would take it nearly a half-million miles from the Sun-Jupiter barycenter?! And why have we not seen it before?

    Why? Because it’s complete fiction.

    If it were true, we would have seen this thousands of years ago. You could hardly miss the Sun wobbling up and down almost half its diameter like some cosmic sing-a-long bouncy ball!

    We would have also noticed a large Jupiter sized planet orbiting at right angles to the ecliptic (plane of the planets orbits). No modern instruments needed, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians would have seen it. It would have been so unusual that it would have had a central role in several mythologies!

    A smaller planet perhaps? It won’t work. It would be so far away that it would be ripped from our Solar system. In fact, it would be so far away that it couldn’t have ever been part of our solar system.

    Something small dark and massive? No luck, we’d still see the bouncy ball effect.

    One way or another we’d have noticed ages ago.

  4. Small clarification, if the Sun bounced up and down the barycenter would move to. (It would also have nasty effects on the orbits of other planets.) I left that movement part out because neither the Sun nor the sun-Jupiter barycenter moves that way and it’ll confuse people.

  5. Agreed. Sounds junky to me. But then most doomsday scenarios sound junky to me… ;o]

    Hope you’re well!

    I still insist that if we make it to 2013 and the Earth is still here, humanity survived all of 2012 with no ill effects, we declare an ABSOLUTE MORATORIUM on any future doomsday “prophecies.” Let the fear mongers put their money where their mouths are… Or, better, “put up, or shut up.”

    If they can’t put up, they can sure as heck shut up! Maybe if we ignore them, they’ll go away?

    My 2c.

    1. there is something like a 10% chance that Apophis will strike the Earth in 20 some-odd years…This is a real doomsday scenario with a silver lining….we stand a good chance of “catching” this rock. Could be useful as a geo-synchronous platform. It is possibly rich in nickel also.So maybe we let that scare get real for everyone.

      1. I think the chance was way smaller. Something along the lines of a one in twenty chance that an orbital trajectory would be set up that would give a one in 450 chance that Apophis would strike earth. Or the other way around.

  6. i think that you are right, there is no way that the world is going to end in 2012. sure the mayan calendar does end on that day, and yes it may be because it is spiritual, but did anyone ever think that maybe the mayans didn’t need to go any further on the calendar. and as far as i am concerned, noonecan tell the future, all people do is say that a leader will be shot and city panics, and there we go, i just made a prediction. so yeah…..

  7. I read the article you wrote on 2012 not being doomsday… and i agree. But i was curious to know if you have ever heard of Terrence Mckenna, the computer program he created in 1970 called Timewave Zero, along with his novelty theory. Basically you really don’t know as much as you think you know about 2012, you should do some real research and you would know that on December 21, 2012 is going to be the MOST SIGNIFICANT moment in human history. Some people do view it as doomsday but they are stupid. Terrence Mckenna’s computer program Timewave Zero has predicted an accurate flow of time according to novelty in the world… what i mean is that his computer program shows a graph of time and every dip on the graph is a bad point in time, like the fall of the roman empire, and every high point on the graph is a good point in time (good or bad according to novelty). On December 21, 2012 the graph hits absolute zero for the first time ever. What this means
    it that the graph is no longer linear, TIME IS NO LONGER LINEAR. so it might b that some scientist sends a microscopic particle forwards or backwards in time miliseconds… but no one can really know for sure. But what I do know for sure is that it will be the most significant day in human history.

  8. The christian bible book of Revelations warns about the anti-christ, and the associated number 666 – what does this mean?? Prophecies are seemingly epoch specific if one considers that the numerical name conversion for ceasour (nero) was in fact “666” – Undoubtedly man is in self-destruct mode at present with the attempts at global superiority, wars, terrorism etc, but to predict a specific date for doom is ludicrous, when pompei erupted, black plague occured, spanish flu, the tsunami which destroyed much of the ancient world etc occured, could this not have been construed as the “end times” also??…in any event, nowhere does the Mayan prophecy predict doom in the means of solar flairs etc, it predicts the end of an era, and by obvious deduction their calendar must have an alpha and an omega – tonight at midnight is the omega of today!!! (an era)…we as humans read too much into irrelevancy!!

  9. You might think you know a lot about science but you should be more humble and respectful in the face of knowledge. Science can't prove everything. It can't prove anything 100% certainly. So 2012 may still be calamitous. Scientific consensus denies alternative explanations and laughs at them, which is not very scientific.

  10. What is 'true', and you can check it by downloading the skyglobe astronomy orarry program, is that at 6.48 AM on December 21st 2012 the Sun rises as seen from anywhere on latitude 30 deg , perfetcly al;igned with the 'alleged' 'black-hole' – in Saggittarious -the Milky Way skims the horizon – at Giza!, Hilarious!' It goes without saying that the coolest place to view this is from the top of the Great Pyramid – but also, Houston and Canaveral are within 1'2 degree of this Latitude, and alpha centauri rises helioacely with the sun at this moment, and the planets are aligned for a perfect gravitational slingshot……..Its the Centauri Shot,….. isn't it?

  11. Dec 21 2012, Latitude 30, galactic centre alignment at solstice sunrise, milky way skims horizon, centre of wheel, – automatic gear change>

      1. well, I think it has something to do with us not actually being in the milky way galaxy.We are in a galaxy colliding with the milky way.There are also some other made up stuff or predicted stuff like catastrophic events like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc. all happening at once and the end of the world.Most predictions ('official' ones, not ones that random people say) actually say we're going through a transformation, not the end of the world

  12. Finally,a scientist willing to explain in clear and easy language,for us profane. Not to mention that finnaly «doomsday»is part of our everyday lives! And if we would be more willing to check our ancestors,like for example in 1899…lots of people sold their houses,thinking again another disaster(thanks Grand-ma!).Another man of science in Italy with a website,similar to this one giving us profane references and reassuring peace of mind.How could I explicitely «THANK» more than the word itself? Well, anyway T H A N K S!!!!

  13. OK, the sun passes thru 'galactic centre' at winter solstice 'nearly' every year 2012± 20 – however, only at 30deg N does galactic equator ride the horizon – thus we have time to rehearse. I'm going to set up 360deg panaromic cameras for dawn at the pyramid, just for the world's magazine covers! (this is a rare astronomical avent, after all). May have a bit of an issue with the old curater Aiwass, however!

  14. First let me say I agree it is ALL about fear. Fear allows the masses to be manipulated into pretty much anything. But my question is regarding to themes I have not seen refuted and I am wondering if there is any science to them. One, the earth is going to tip on it;s axis. I have heard 90 degrees and 180 degrees. Second, that our solar system will be perfectly aligned and the closest we have been in like 26000 years to the center of the galaxy where there is a black hole. This phenomenon supposedly is going to have a huge effect on us. Also, I ahve heard something about Turgon field physics? What the heck is that?

    1. I'm no scientist. I'm no gifted intellectual. I'm just a simpleton. If or not something(s) happen on 2012 I could care less. I live in the present not the future nor the past. No amount of scientific data can debunk or pinpoint a valid reassuring explanation towards 2012 and all its gibberish nor those mumbo-jumbo-hail-doomsday psych jobs. What if all hell breaks lose on 2012, what can we worm food humans do about it? We can't even predict an earthquake, so how the hell are gonna save ourselves on 2012? The way I see it, who wants to live forever. If it happens, so be it. If it doesn't, in the end we still all die…god forbid that to be slipping on a banana.

      1. As I said in my original comment. It is all about fear. Fear is the master manipulator and controller. Fear makes money in so many arena, from movies to medication. I read an article by a researcher that actually says the Mayan calendar doesn't end on that day. This cycle ends a new one begins and the reality is this happens every 26 thousand years and has happened thousands of times. When that day comes and you are sitting havng lunch and it dawns on you “Wow, I am still here” you'll realize it was all manipulative hype just like y2k.Here is a link to a well researched article and that may be helpfulcredence to the position that take; which is 21/21/2012 is not as unique and occurrence as we may think. http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/afp-nasa-2012-m… Also, here is a link from Frederick A Larson, astronomer and head of “The Star Project. At the very bottom of the thread je has a short paragraph addressing the 2012 issueThe 2012 scares makes as much sense as the Y2K scare, I have only said a few sentences about it on the FAQ: bethlehemstar.net/faq.htmFrederick A. LarsonThe Star Project311 Crescent DriveBryan, Texas 77801-4542 USABTW I don't think we are worm food. Man is far more than that. We are too complex, too ingenious, fearfully and wonderfully made to be accidental. As such, our choices of how to live has meaning. The perspective is hopeless, fatalist and just not what the universe would declare. We are here for a purpose each one of us. That doesn't mean everyone walks into that purpose, life is complicated, but that doesn't change the reality the we were made with a purpose. Don't believe me? Start by considering how purposeful all the systems of you human body function and work together in the most remarkable ways. Consider how fragile life is and how the systems of nature work so perfectly to sustain us. There is nothing accidental about all of that. There is great intention and thought that went into how we are made and science, is they get thier heads of you know what, would testify to that reality; we were intelligently designed. And that plan and purpose isn;t coming to a sudden crash ending on 12/21/2012, Believe me!!

      2. Frederick A. Larson is NOT an astronomer. He is a Christian fundamentalist of the worst stripe (Dominionist) whose BA was in Philosophy and has a degree in law as well. His “Bethlehem Star” was created with a commercial software package (“Starry Night”) and a number of unprovable hypotheses arrived at by stretching and contotring several already tenuous data to fit his hypothesis. NOT science, by any stretch of the imagination.

  15. As I said in my original comment. It is all about fear. Fear is the master manipulator and controller. Fear makes money in so many arena, from movies to medication. I read an article by a researcher that actually says the Mayan calendar doesn't end on that day. This cycle ends a new one begins and the reality is this happens every 26 thousand years and has happened thousands of times. When that day comes and you are sitting havng lunch and it dawns on you “Wow, I am still here” you'll realize it was all manipulative hype just like y2k.Here is a link to a well researched article and that may be helpfulcredence to the position that take; which is 21/21/2012 is not as unique and occurrence as we may think. http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/afp-nasa-2012-m… Also, here is a link from Frederick A Larson, astronomer and head of “The Star Project. At the very bottom of the thread je has a short paragraph addressing the 2012 issueThe 2012 scares makes as much sense as the Y2K scare, I have only said a few sentences about it on the FAQ: bethlehemstar.net/faq.htmFrederick A. LarsonThe Star Project311 Crescent DriveBryan, Texas 77801-4542 USABTW I don't think we are worm food. Man is far more than that. We are too complex, too ingenious, fearfully and wonderfully made to be accidental. As such, our choices of how to live has meaning. The perspective is hopeless, fatalist and just not what the universe would declare. We are here for a purpose each one of us. That doesn't mean everyone walks into that purpose, life is complicated, but that doesn't change the reality the we were made with a purpose. Don't believe me? Start by considering how purposeful all the systems of you human body function and work together in the most remarkable ways. Consider how fragile life is and how the systems of nature work so perfectly to sustain us. There is nothing accidental about all of that. There is great intention and thought that went into how we are made and science, if they get their heads out of their you know what, they would testify to that reality; we were intelligently designed. That means made for a reason. Who invents and makes something that works with out it having some type of purpose. The more complexly made that thing the greater the purpose. For man that plan and purpose isn't coming to a sudden crash ending on 12/21/2012, Believe me!!Peace,

  16. wow i belive you way more then i belive the others i was so scared about 2012, but then i remember that god promised not to harm or flud the earth gain in hints of the rainbow, but i was still on edge abou t 2012 i mean there are so many people who keep saying its going to happen when noone really knows only god knows but thank u i feel alot better about it.

  17. i couldn’t agree more, making money of other people’s fears is irresponsible, keep up the good work.

  18. Hey have you seen the cool website at doomsdaycoins.com with the Harold Camping coin, party stuff and survival supplies. Makes you wish the world wasn’t ending in December of 2012.

  19. I like your article, its the first thing that popped up when i typed in “disproving 2012 theory”. I had a hard time buying into all the bullshit people were saying about the planets aligning and meteor showers so i needed another opinion. I guess i just wanted to say thanks and that your theories should not go unheard. Personally i think its just all another big misdirect from how shitty the economy is and that allot of scared people are going to be spending allot of money before this happens.    

  20. Of course it’s making money, and even the big guys like the History Channel and Discovery are making all of these programs and taking it for all it’s worth. I bet their viewership numbers were great, and they sell ads, so…

    I like it though actually when the survival factors and those things are mentioned alongside 2012, because people these days don’t HAVE any survival skills or supplies, especially from where I’m from (Downtown San Fransisco) and we’re due for the next big one :0!! You think my friends and neighbors have extra food and water at home?? Nope. I keep telling them, but they don’t really believe it. I actually wish they stumbled upon some 2012 survival stuff (like this: http://www.whatwillhappenin2012now.com/how-to-survive-2012/place-survive-2012/ ) in efforts to get them to stock up on some water at least…

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