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Jack Zaleski, Published December 15 2012

Zaleski: Safe bet: World will not end on Friday

This is my last column. The world ends Friday, so that’s it.

Just kidding. But a lot of people are not kidding. They believe the ancient Mayan calendar predicts Armageddon or something like it on Dec. 21, 2012. It apparently makes no never mind to the doomsday clowns that descendants of the old Mayans don’t see the calendar that way. Most Mayan people say the end of the old calendar marks the close of one Mayan era, and the beginning of a new one. A time for renewal, they say.

Well, “renewal” doesn’t sell. “Doomsday” sells, and sells big. The Internet loves it. “Hey, I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true!” Heard that, have you?

Hundreds of books about Dec. 21, 2012, are flying off the shelves. Most of them exploit the doomsday scenario; a few refute the nonsense. A handful of movies have taken up the theme; great special effects.

Here’s what the believers say:

First, there’s a dark planet hiding behind the sun that will emerge Friday and crash into Earth. Ka-boom! It’s all over.

Another set of Mayan calendar manipulators believes a brown dwarf star will rush into the solar system just in time to obliterate ol’ Terra Firma on Friday. Fry us to cinders.

Scary, right? Well, no.

Neither the planet nor the star exists. Astronomers (professional and amateur) and astrophysicists would have detected them long before now. They ain’t there. Nothing will hit Earth on Friday, other than the routine daily showers of space rocks that become meteors when they burn up in the atmosphere.

Sorry to disappoint the believers, but the science is what it is. But science is not their thing. The science rejectionists are no surprise. These are the same airheads and goofballs who are convinced NASA faked the 1969 moon landing, Elvis lives, and a mysterious cabal of superrich businessmen controls the world’s economy. They probably listen to alien transmissions through fillings in their teeth. They wear aluminum foil hats to prevent the CIA from listening to their conversations.

On the other side of the Mayan calendar coin are clever opportunists (making movies, books, TV specials) who know how to turn a pretty profit, thank you, by preying on the irrational fears of disaffected nutcases and self-styled mystics. How can you go wrong with pseudo-experts who misinterpret ancient texts? What fun it must be for savvy sellers to peddle stupid stuff to gullible people.

Some readers might say I should not be making fun of the folks who believe that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on Friday. I should respect their fears and their beliefs, not ridicule them. To which I say: No, no and no, again.

They ascribe to a nonsensical notion. They raise ridiculousness to a faux faith. Ridiculousness invites ridicule. I’m just accepting the invitation.

Meanwhile, Friday will pass without a star or planet disrupting the day, which means I’ll write another column next weekend. By the way, Friday also is the first day of winter. My prediction (without guidance from the Mayan calendar): It’s gonna be cold.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.