Debunking the End of the World: It’s not Just for 2012 Anymore
The December 21, 2012 Mayan Calendar end-of-the-world phenomenon was an exemplary teachable moment in terms of integrating critical thinking into our courses and public outreach. However, the passing of this date without an apocalypse does notmean that we should forget the lessons learned or assume that apocalyptic ideas are less common among our students or the general public. Polls have concluded that one in seven adults worldwide believes the world will end in his or her lifetime. A casual perusal of the cosmophobia.org public forum demonstrates that there is still much work to be done in terms of getting our formal and informal education audiences to apply critical thinking skills to what they see on The History Channel or on the Internet. Misconceptions still abound and leave the general public open to being manipulated
by pseudosciences and frauds. Being forewarned is being forearmed in this battle. This paper examines the recent rash of proposed astronomical doomsday scenarios and explains how we can stay on top of future apocalypse scares.