Wednesday, November 28, 2012 , Updated 12:00 a.m., December 21, 2012
Impending apocalypse disproven by looking deeper into Mayan culture, SMU professors say
It's more an Aztec thing.
DALLAS According to the “2012 Doomsday” prediction, there may only be a few more weeks to live. During Monday evening’s panel, Maya Apocalypse 2012: Fact or Fiction, two SMU professors dispelled the myth of the impending apocalypse.
Those who believe in the 2012 apocalypse often use Mayan calendars to support their claims. The Maya used many different, complex calendars, which are often misinterpreted. Those who believe that the world will end on December 21 often reference the Mayan long count calendar.
The long count calendar counts forward from the Maya creation date of August 11, 3114 BC for 13 baktuns.
A baktun is a Mayan measurement of time, which represents approximately 400 years. Although the long-count Mayan calendar may end in 2012, during the 13th and final baktun, it does not signify the end of the world. At that time, the Maya would merely start the calendar over from the beginning, much like an odometer on a car.
However, end of the year predictions cannot be entirely based on this calendar. At one point, the Maya changed the way they accounted for time and created the short-count calendar. This change in calendar systems has led to discrepancies in which day would supposedly mark the apocalypse.
“For you Doomsday preppers, if the 21st rolls around and the world hasn’t ended, don’t worry because it could still happen,” Professor Brigitte Kovacevich said.
Even though projections from the Mayan calendar are used to support beliefs in the apocalypse, the year 2012 is rarely seen on the calendar.
2012 is only seen on the Mayan stela, a type of monument inscribed to commemorate specific dates. However, when a specific year was referenced, it was used in a rhetorical fashion rather than as a prediction.
Another major contributor to the apocalypse myth is confusion between Mayan and Aztec cultures. Unlike the Maya, the Aztecs made apocalyptic and fatalistic predictions for the future. The idea of large-scale natural disasters causing the end of the world comes entirely from Aztec tradition.
“I find it interesting how the Maya and Aztecs were two completely different cultures, but so much of Aztec culture is incorporated into this myth which we attribute to the Maya,” sophomore Kristen Carreno said.
With so much evidence to disprove apocalypse myths, why do people choose to believe them? Entertainment value is one of the key factors. Rumors of the apocalypse peaked in 2009 when the movie 2012 was released.
“As humans we like to be fearful. We jump out of planes, go on roller coasters, and watch scary movies. Being afraid is just something we enjoy,” Professor Michael Callaghan said.
Callaghan also said most people choose to believe these myths simply because its easier than learning what is true about such an old and complex civilization.
Though apocalypse rumors have officially been put to rest, SMU students cannot relax just yet. While they no longer need to stress over the end of the world, the end of the semester is just around the corner.
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