The space agency recently saw fit to take its debunking hammer to persistent online tales of a fictional dwarf planet that is supposedly on a collision course with Earth, popular prophecies associated with the Mayan calendar, and other doomsday scenarios that fall apart under minimal scrutiny.
“Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, Dec. 21, 2012 won’t be the end of the world as we know it. However, it will be another winter solstice,” NASA associates behind a new website called Beyond 2012 wrote Wednesday in a Google+ post.
Some of the more popular apocalyptic theories revolve around a rogue planet called Nibiru supposedly discovered thousands of years ago by the ancient Sumerians, which some believe is going to collide with our planet next month. Variations on this theme call the doomsday rock Planet X or peg the real dwarf planet Eris as the harbinger of death from the skies, while a recent strain of this myth tries to tie the whole thing in with the supposed end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.
Other doomsday hokum countered on the Beyond 2012 site includes a supposedly imminent reversal in the Earth’s rotation, the onset of giant solar storms, and a fanciful array of disastrous events somehow set in motion by a rare alignment of the planets.
It’s a little sad that NASA has to address this but I’m glad they are. Even though people link them with lots of conspiracy theories, the fact that people still ask them to speak to these concerns does exhibit some trust and respect. As we’ve noted before, kids are particularly prone to pseudoscience that sounds persuasive because they don’t have the tools to tell the difference. I’m very glad NASA does this outreach and I’m hoping for the best and not any tragedies of superstition in the coming month.
Here is a video they did on the topic.