If you were to believe the buzz on social media and in some of the tabloids, you’d want to clear your calendar to account for the impending end of the world on June 21.
You might recall that the world was supposed to end back in 2012, according to some interpretations of the “end” of the Mayan calendar. Now a new interpretation is circulating that essentially says if we go by the Julian calendar, we’re actually in 2012 right now and therefore the world will end in about a week.
The Sun attributes these claims to tweets by a young scientist and Fulbright scholar named Paolo Tagaloguin. Those tweets, as well as his entire Twitter account (and LinkedIn and Instagram accounts) have since vanished.
This, of course, has not led to the story vanishing from the online ether as easily.
So, let’s do some mop-up work here.
First off, this is not the first doomsday prediction coming from a pre-colonial civilization or any other source. There’s usually some apocalyptic prognosticating that’s supposed to pay off every year or so. So far none have been right. This is a remarkably bad track record.
But it’s also not reasonable to assume that something can’t happen in the future because it hasn’t happened in the past. So let’s look a little closer at this specific claim.
First of all, there’s plenty of reason to believe the Mayans were never actually predicting the end of the world, but rather that the cut-off point on their calendar was just that – the ending of a cycle. Just as our parents threw out the old calendar each December. This was not a signal of anything more than the start of a new year and a re-cycling of our timekeeping system.
So there’s that. But the conversion math that apparently led to the notion that December 21, 2012 is really this Sunday on the Julian calendar is also wrong, according to astronomer Phil Plait, who fact-checked the claim.
“Second, that doesn’t matter anyway, because the 21 December 2012 date was converted from the Maya calendar to the Gregorian one in the first place,” Plait adds. “So there’s no reason to even bring the Julian calendar into this. It doesn’t make sense.”
So that pretty much takes care of that. Proceed with all your pandemic non-plans as usual. And be careful what you read.