Mark Dery on 2012 bunkum

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62 Responses to “Mark Dery on 2012 bunkum”

  1. Certhas says:

    “[I]t seems to me that there is very little concrete sense of what ‘the Mayans’ (whoever that grand abstraction represents) thought about what would happen in the human world on 2012,” he writes. “To my mind it is kinda disrespectful to the Mayans to force them into our own narrative.”

    As a theoretical physicist I have to say: Amen to that.

    (p.s.: Though I see nothing a priori wrong with remixing even a superficial understanding of other narratives into your own, the stupidity with which these things are done in the New Age movement (Tachyonic spirit crystals? Quantum self observation?) is insulting.)

  2. M. Dery says:

    TYPOS:
    >> If you can’t grasp that numb, you’re beyond redemption. SHOULD BE: If you can’t grasp that nub, you’re beyond redemption.
    >> Either you believe in appeals in to the better angels SHOULD BE: Either you believe in appeals to the better angels

  3. danlalan says:

    Its been hundreds of years since anyone has made a human sacrifice to placate the gods, is it any wonder they’re getting testy? My chia-pet chac-mool told me that 2012 is the end, and he hasn’t been wrong yet…

  4. SamSam says:

    Hmmm… I really think the world also need an in-depth, riled-up debunking of the Santa Claus myth. I mean, this debunking is important stuff, and definitely warrants several articles.

  5. Hybridan says:

    Uh, am I the only one who at the very beginning of the post thought it was referring to Ivy Pinchbeck, the excellent historian who wrote “Women Workers and the Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850″ London (1930).

  6. RedShirt77 says:

    In a little under 2 years won’t it be 2011?

    I hope I am not still writing the wrong year on my checks in November. That would be embarrassing

  7. IWood says:

    I either have new issues or a sudden case of wonderful deviance: I immediately wondered what kind of shoes Xeni was wearing when she went off. And, having wondered, I wanted them to be patent leather stilettos with a substantial amount of chrome.

  8. Anonymous says:

    While I agree with the premise of this article (that the 2012 cult is a bunch of hoo-haa), I don’t agree with the rationale (ask a real Maya priest). There is no such thing as a “real Maya priest” who would know anything about the development of the Maya calendar. Most current mayas are completely unable to read the glyph language of their Mayan predecessors, not to mention the fact that much of the Mayan library of writing was destroyed by the Catholic priests of the Colonial Period.

    With this in mind, it would behoove anyone trying to get to the bottom of this to consult with an archaeologist or historical anthropologist who has studied and is familiar with ancient Mayan writing. Not one person with said credentials has substantiated the 2012 myth.

    My take on the whole thing? The Mayan calendar was carved/drawn to fit in a prescribed space (circle). That space is finite. For the same reason the Gregorian Calendar doesn’t trail off into infinity on any printed calendar produced is probably the same reason that the Mayan calendar terminates at 2012–they ran out of space.

    2012 was a date so far into the future at the time this calendar was created that they probably figured it would outlast their society. They were right.

    • HerkyDerky says:

      The Calendar wasn’t written to fit into a fixed space, any more than a clock has only 12 hours on it to fit into a fixed space. The calendar is rolling over from 13 to 14, the same way clock goes from midnight to 1am.

  9. chris23 says:

    Let’s not forget that Jose Arguelles, organizer of the Harmonic Convergence, was the original proselytizer of the Mayan 2012 endpoint. It’s Arguelles’ questionable anthropology that set up Pinchbeck to capitalize on his own hallucinations.

    McKenna, FWIW, claims to have had no knowledge of any supposed Mayan endpoint when the novelty graph of his Timewave program (derived from the I-Ching) crashed at Dec. 21 2012.

  10. Jellytoes says:

    It’s a MOVIE you idiots….cheap entertainement….a momentary diversion from the 1-billion malnourished people on this planet….even as we have number of religions and politcal parties urging us tyo have even more people. Unh? More?

    IT IS A MOVIE?

  11. M. Dery says:

    This, by the way, is what bona fide meanness—meanness with an ear-to-ear Great White grin, meanness that rejoices in its unalloyed, unapologetic meanness—looks like:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw9K0tI9mxc&feature=player_embedded
    It’s just sublime.

    • wolfiesma says:

      That’s not that mean. “You’re a twat,” is no more mean than “you’re a douchebag.” Sort of low-medium on the meanness scale. “Menopausal mystic,” is medium mean. It’s belittling and dismissive. A little misogynist. But it’s okay. We’ve all said things over drinks and had them broadcast widely on the internet. It happens.

      It’s just that, if I had to name the biggest threat to civilization, it wouldn’t be irrationality. I don’t perceive it to be anywhere near as dangerous as aggression or snark or meanness. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around one another’s insecurities, but there is questionable social benefit to making fun of people. Unless you are getting people to laugh at themselves. That’s good. But if you are just helping some people laugh at other people by supplying the jokes… I don’t know. I don’t think its necessarily pro-social behavior.

      I think an essay like yours that claims to take poor critical thinking to task doesn’t actually help anybody improve those skills, so it does seem pointless in a way. It mostly gives new ammunition and laughs to people well-endowed with those abilities. The targets of the jokes may feel shame, or defensive, or defeated if they read it. Who knows, maybe they will be inspired to go back to school and study logic and debate, and question their beliefs, and form a worldview more rooted in reality. Maybe that will move us forward. I really don’t know. I do think, though, that moving forward means lots of bridge building. Funny bridge building is even better! Eloquent bridge building, sublime!

  12. ian_b says:

    also worth noting that McKenna’s book came out in the late 70′s, before the Maya language was decoded in the mid 80′s

  13. morgan says:

    At the very least, (or very most) … 2012 is a delicious number, like 2000/Y2K was. It simply jump starts the imagination. (Or, gets people complaining about each other, or flinging sh*t)

    I agree with diamondbach “dismissing the titanic lecture work of Terence McKenna as a “standup routine” is simply silly”. McKenna is like a “gateway drug” to a lot of great info. Same with Daniel Pinchbeck, or Erik Davis, or William Gibson, or any of the Boing Boing Crew, or the list goes on & on & on & on.

    Just depends what flavour tickles your fancy. And, how fancy you are with coming up with flavours

    Because yes, things are changing and things are changing and things are always changing and morphing and growing and splitting and evolving and dying and being remixed and augmented and so forth and so on, world without end, Amen. There is always info one can take away from any source and put it to good use. If you want, and if you can.

    BTW, I’ve written for Reality Sandwich since it began. I have no crystals in my posession :)

    Just for fun, a quote from good ol’ Terence:

    “Mark (Pesce) mentioned the vector of virtual reality, nanotechnology, global communications — it’s clear that we’re moving toward, if not the Eschaton itself, then some kind of historical echo of it, in simulation, that, for all practical purposes, will be the same thing, as far as the impact it has on our lives.

    For example, you could doubt my much-vaunted prediction that the world will become unrecognizable by 2012; but do you doubt for a moment that by 2012, every major religion on Earth will have vast simulations of its eschatological vision for you to wander in and try out– so that you can look in on Nirvana.com, or lope over to the Celestial City, or look in on Sufi paradise? I mean, religious ontologies will be marketed like beers! And will be made as realistic and compelling as possible!

    Well then, who is to say what is real and what is not? “Real” is a distinction of a naïve mind, I think. We’re getting beyond that. I mean, naïve empiricism worked well enough, until the discoveries of quantum physics seventy or eighty years ago revealed the hideous secret that the bedrock of reality is a funhouse basement!”

  14. Jonathan Badger says:

    I’m not sure what modern villagers have to do with the Mayan calendar — since the fall of the Mayan civilization, nobody could read the calendar, or indeed any Mayan, until quite recently. There’s some resemblance of some modern spoken dialects to what linguists believe classical Mayan to be like, but that’s it — you might as well ask a member of the Egyptian Coptic minority about the pharaohs.

  15. ian_b says:

    I read Terence McKenna’s ‘Timewave Zero’ about 10 years ago, so I was amazed as this 2012 b.s. gained critical mass to the point that they would make a movie exploiting it. Does anyone remember that guest on Colbert a couple years ago pimping his book about the 2012 doomsday? He was some white hippie with no credentials and I felt exactly the way this post does: white people are exploiting this. Now there is an entire shelf at the book store filled with these books. It feels good seeing the tide turn against it. It should be noted that when he came up with his pattern, McKenna was chilling with shamans in the Amazon, so there’s a good chance he heard the myth and adopted it as his own.

  16. M. Dery says:

    Any author who wades into a comment thread this deep, with this many points of debate, inevitably gets that Neo-in-the-Burly-Brawl feeling. To a degree, it’s a fool’s errand, because there’s always a dozen-odd antagonists willing to spell each other while they catch their breath in one corner of the ring. Meanwhile, the exhausted hack is taking all comers.
    That said, letting baseless charges go unanswered just isn’t my style. It’s a tactical error, one the Democrats make too often. I’ve addressed some of these points in the H+ comment thread, which was smaller and therefore more manageable. But in Boing Boing’s case, I’m going to winnow the grain out of the chaff, here, and address the substantive points over at Shovelware. If you care, join me there.

  17. Tdawwg says:

    A lot of this 2012-ism is warmed-over chiliasm, some unfinished psychic business left over from our millennial handwringing, something Dery might have taken into greater account. But his evisceration of Pinchbeck is vintage Dery:

    First, there’s the gape-mouthed credulity required of true believers in the 2012 prophesies — the unblinking, irony-free ability to swallow groaners that would make a cow laugh, such as Pinchbeck’s pronouncement that 2012 may beckon us through a psychic portal, into a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.”

    Dunno about my pineal glad, but Pinchbeck sure triggered my funnybone!

  18. lerasmus says:

    I think the whole 2012 hooplah is great. Same goes for feng shui, crystals, and kombucha tea. It’s one of the more endearing aspects of modern “civilisation.” Much more endearing that people who run around trying to debunk whatever – that’s boring.

    The big question everyone is ignoring – what are YOU going to wear to the end of the universe party? Native garb? Sequins? Absolutely nothing? Phun phur?

  19. SamSam says:

    [boy did I screw up links above. Could a moderator please remove my preceding comment?]

    The term “adult” may be a gray area when refering to the kinds of people that believe these things, but either way, how about an article or five debunking the notion that, say, Isis wants to have anything to do with whatever Wiccan ritual you’re trying to worship her with, or that you’ll make your house more Feng Shui by buying a bunch of crap.

    Some people have some weird switch that allows them to believe anything, particularly if it involves some mangled translation of another culture. Apart from the fact that some people will profit from this (isn’t there always someone? Feng Shui example above, for instance), and that maybe the practitioners of whatever religion will shake their heads in bemusement at the foreigners, I think it’s pretty much a waste of breath to bother spending time “debunking” it.

  20. tonx says:

    Terence McKenna was a lovely man who couched his most crackpot ravings in ample humor and considerable disclaimers. His absence continues to leave many freak flags flying at half mast. The world could use more like him, but artless hucksters like Pinchbeck are not the answer.

    I propose you post a unicorn chaser of sorts linking to some of McKenna’s more inspired 2012 proselytizings, which whether truth or total lunacy demonstrate some genuinely inspired thinking. C’mon boingboing – you’re on the side of the Weird! Teach the controversy. ;)

  21. biggerbass11 says:

    the only reason the Mayans ended their calender in the fist place is because they ran out of cute animal pictures for the backgrounds. When the world runs out of cute animals is when it ends so elect Ralph Nader and give money to peta… for the good of the world

  22. franko says:

    actually, i was kinda hoping the 2012 thing was true, because, you know… we kinda deserve it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    ps it’s spelled Buncombe like the politician!

  24. Anonymous says:

    My only comment is… the calendar everyone seems to use for illustrating 2012 articles is NOT Mayan. The image here is Aztec. And it was not a calendar. It was a stone used to predict sun’s position.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The real problem is… We haven’t gone through a really good terminal (doomsday) event just yet. I guess that on a galactic time-scale, we should be arriving at one in about, say, a billion or so years from now? I think we should all start thinking of flooding the market with a series of decent end-of-all-life movies, so we can prepare adequately.

  26. Kilgore Trout says:

    The fact that so many of you think that “2012″ means “The End of the World” clearly shows that you don’t have any idea what it is that you are talking about. Perhaps I will have to write some tidbits on what 2012 is actually about and then throw them into random trashbins in hopes that one of you may stumble upon them and be enlightened.

    • SamSam says:

      @Kilgore Trout: Um… did you miss the point of the article? Did you read any comment here that suggests that 2012 will be the end of the world? Or any comment that suggests that the Maya thought that 2012 would be the end of the world?

  27. Evan Teleomorph says:

    BUNK OR BEAUTIFUL?

    I liked the article and particularly appreciated this quotable quip:

    “the 2012 shtick is a light-fingered (if leaden-humored) rip-off of the late rave-culture philosopher Terence McKenna’s stand-up routine, without McKenna’s prodigious erudition, effortless eloquence, or arch wit, and Pinchbeck is no exception.”

    However,

    Any clear-eyed rationalist really should be able to see the stark contrast between this temporal juncture of exponential leaps in technology along with the neuron-like networking of human minds and the coinciding ecological ramifications (the serious ones, not the corporate-driven myths). We are facing a period of comparatively infinitely more novelty than previous generations or lifeforms experienced, whether it be the catastrophic or redemptive kind of novelty. I, like many other level-headed philosophers and scientists, see no empirical, hard evidence of an outside force that guides this back-feeding spiral into a crescendo on the specific date of 12/21/12, but, one must admit, the significance-seeking nature of humanity is crafting quite an elegant self-fulfilling prophecy by hitching on the back of the Maya’s uncannily accurate calendar and Terence McKenna’s mindful musings about a Timewave.

    So what if WE are the ones imbuing that date with special significance? Don’t we do that already every holiday? If we use 12/21/12 or 13.0.0.0.0 or whatever as a marker for the first globally acknowledged holy moment I can only see that as a GOOD THING. After all, who doesn’t look forward to celebrating the ever-coiling cycles of the Earth on New Years Eve? It’s a human-selected day loosely marking the seasons, but it’s also a great fucking party and a lot of people use it as a marker to change their behavior for the better. Well, the Mayan calendar is wayyy more cosmically accurate than the Gregorian and this date marks a 5,100 year cycle… HOLY CRAP!! NOW THAT DESERVES A CELEBRATION (if not all-out yogic, shamanic, poetic, theatric rite of passage and collective sci-fi artwork bonanza)!! If we use 12/21/12 as a marker for when the authentically unitive voice of humanity declares spiritual autonomy or entry into evolutionary adulthood, then it may just stick and have an empowering effect on generations to come.

    Maybe there is some hidden plot-structure to humanity that culminates on a schedule; if so… neat. And maybe ‘meaning’ is something our consciousness creates for nature and millions of people just randomly decide to celebrate LOVE & TRANSFORMATION on a particular solstice in the middle of the craziest epoch evolution has ever encountered: ok… awesome. Or, perhaps, the forces shaping the galaxy and the free-will of mankind both implement their fullest, creative capabilities at the same time… hey, why not?

    In any case, the 2012 phenomenon will undoubtedly be exploited for power and profit, but the overall reorientation of values and unprecedented eruption of hope and the will-to-change that the 2012 meme is helping to organize seems to me to be something worth nurturing and guiding, not snidely dismissing as mere cerebral incapacitance.

  28. Daedalus says:

    Here’s why I think this particular debunkery has a lot of value:

    Actual Mayans, real, live, flesh-and-blood human beings, are having their history and identity appropriated by, debased by, and misunderstood by idiot foreigners who make a tremendous profit off of it, and then use that profit to buy, say, cocaine that finances the very thugs that kill actual, real, live, flesh-and-blood human beings.

    It would be vaguely like the Chinese making a movie glorifying the PRC that used elements of Tibetan buddhism as a launching-off point. Or the Romans making a play about the second coming of Jesus while feeding Christians to the lions. It is the movie equivalent of a McDonald’s hamburger: completely removed from the actual context and costs of its birth. This isn’t harmless. This has actual, real harm, to actual, real people. Santa Claus doesn’t exist in a world where the elderly live in fear of gangs of angry polar bears at the North Pole. This hype exists in a world where actual people whose legends are being appropriated and misunderstood are currently suffering in their own homeland.

    It’s not quite like Santa Claus, no.

    • SamSam says:

      Um, wait, what?

      So all this is harmful, but only given that the people who sell the bunkum go on to buy cocaine?

      Ok. So if they don’t buy cocaine, it’s not harmful? And if someone else entirely buys cocaine, is that not harmful? Or as harmful?

      How about this:

      1) Buying cocaine is harmful.

      2) If one were to use profits from this bunkum to buy cocaine, that would be both harmful and ironic (or just jerky).

      3) Given that the idea that these guys are going around spending money willy-nilly in cocaine just came out of nowhere, however, the entire discussion is moot.

  29. greengestalt says:

    I loathe “Paranormal De-Bunkers” with a passion and that goes the same for “Conspiracy De-Bunkers” also.

    They are just intellectual snits who liked yelling “There’s no such thing as Santa Claus” to slightly younger kids in school so they could feel superior hearing them cry. Then when the kids older brother beat the stuffing out of them, they probably were part of what started America on it’s downhill slope of “Lawsuits” and “Arrests of Juveniles”.

    There’s lots to de-bunk, stuff actually doing damage, but they don’t got the balls. But they don’t got the guts to de-bunk anything with a group of fanatics profitting from it and legions of followers willing to commit murder. The Holocaust/Zion bandwagon? Scary, run for your life! Major religions? Islam ain’t the only one who’ll “Behead the infidel”! Televangalists? Still going strong, any ‘exposure’ of their sins only gets nuts after you. Talk radio? Only give them more publicity and they have real deadly followers. The Gypsy fortune teller who moves around after draining old ladies life savings? If her “Turn to a Toad” curse fizzles, lots of men in the tribe with knives…

    But the Paranormal section is largely a bunch of solitary intellectuals, including often unschooled ones, and as full of “Zero-profit self-published” material as major media entertainment stuff. For the most part, not too much money or influence and few of them have basements full of weapons, assuming the “Aliens” and “Men In Black” simply have so much/so efficient powers they’d be useless.

    Really, why don’t you de-bunkers show some spine and go to the “Christmas” displays in the malls and pull off Santa’s beard and scream: “Kids! There ain’t no such thing as Santa Claus! All you are doing is screaming for your parents to send more money for lead based toxic toys to China at a time when there’s a Depression emerging!”

    Except you’d get arrested, beaten by parents and have your kneecaps literally chewed off by the brats! Oh, and in my town there’s a “Hell’s Angel” who likes to play Santa. He’s a real nice, charitable fella, ‘cept he’d pulverize you if you did that!

    • wolfiesma says:

      The 2012 debunking movement really bothers me, too, greengestalt. Not because I believe there is anything to the mythology of 2012 End Of The World stuff, but because the debunkers inevitably come off as sort of mean. I don’t see the reason or point of calling out people who believe random things as “stupid.” Even if they are. It’s just mean and unnecessary to point it out. Smart people should have more important things to do then take out easy targets.

      If you think you are fighting the good fight against ignorance by belittling believers, I have to disagree. People are more likely to tune out/shut down when they think you don’t respect or understand them. They will find a way to belittle you in their minds and then you’re just left with one more intractable war.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The calendar on the back page of my checking account log ends on December 31, 2003. Am I dead?

  31. M. Dery says:

    Daniel Pinchbeck:

    If only you were as rigorous in your thought as you are vigorous in defending your franchise.

    Now then: to the thankless task of fishing your points out of this farrago of petulant recrimination, special pleading, hair-splitting, and New Age waffle. (Where did I leave my rubber waders? And my cranial elevator and bone rasp?)

    >>It seems clear that he has never taken the time to read or even open my book on the subject, which was the product of five years of thought and effort.< <

    Five years! I would’ve thought five hours with a scanner, a hit of DMT, and the collected works of Jose Arguelles, Terence McKenna, Erik von Daniken, and Jack Chick would’ve done the job.

    As it happens, I did read it, or most of it, in between spells on the couch with a cold compress on my forehead. I will confess to opening the throttle, in the last few chapters, and bouncing across the greasy swells of your prose at high speed. I’m old and frail and 394 pages of Beholding the Mysterium Tremendum ages a man, Daniel.

    >>I was not a consultant on the 2012 film and had nothing to do with it until after it was completed. [...] I am also working on a documentary project that tries to shift the discourse around “2012” into a discussion about practical solution-oriented approaches to global problems, such as permaculture, bioremediation, and the development of alternative means for exchanging value outside of debt-based currencies issued by private banking consortiums.< <

    A minor point. I inferred, from the filmmaker’s inclusion of your bio and a helpful quote in its press packet, that they appeared there with your blessing. And I raised this point in a comment thread, not in the article itself.

    Not that it matters, since my argument hardly turns on this quiddity.

    What it does turn on is the intellectual incoherence, scientific and anthropological illiteracy, magpie unoriginality, and flat-out goofiness of your hypothesis that 2012 will witness a transformation in global consciousness, which will, of course, be registered in “only one medium”: consciousness itself, naturally, “the mercurial domain of our subjective and personal experience”---a concept of such vaporousness as to be unfalsifiable. Conveniently. As always, in matters New Age.
    (I quote from the Book of Daniel, p. 3)

    >>I do not think that there will be a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.” That quote was taken out of context, I can only presume intentionally. I wrote a paragraph describing our Evolver Spore, a monthly gathering of people connected with the social network I helped start, http://www.evolver.net, on the theme of 2012. The write-up included an assortment of exaggerated possible outcomes, in an effort to be humorous< <

    And I’m sure they set the table aroar, at least when Sting stopped bogarting the goddamned Ayhuasca.

    But your restoration of the contextual paragraph---which I, as a weary hack rather than a doctoral candidate, had neither the wordlength nor, more important, the need to quote---argues my point, rather than refuting it. Since the passage in question appears under your name, here (http://www.realitysandwich.com/2012_evolver_spore), the reader reasonably assumes you wrote it. Your assertion that you wrote the paragraph in question yet it “was promotional copy and not taken from one of my authored pieces” is confusing. Either you wrote it or you didn’t. The distinction between something you wrote and an “authored piece” is lost to me. Do you mean to say that you’re less concerned about accurately representing your beliefs when tossing off “promotional copy”?

    If so, unwise of you, since these “exaggerated possible outcomes,” intended be “humorous,” are hardly far afield from the sorts of things you do believe, and might therefore lead the uncharitable reader to conclude that you believe these things, too.

    A man who actually believes that a paleolithic society had precognitive powers, foreseeing the coming of a singularity that will galvanize some sort of global cosmic consciousness; a man who actually believes that quantum physics somehow endorses “the mystical or shamanic understanding of reality” (2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, 50); a man who seems to believe, or who at least lends credence to, the notion that we are witnessing “the self-organization of a global brain” (whatever that is); a man whose brain reels with Jungian synchronicities and who seems to see alien or parapsychological transmissions in crop circles; a man who quotes with reverent solemnity from The Tao of Physics, that shameless carny barker Jose Arguelles, the risible Teilhard de Chardin, and the kooktopian brain-drool of Steiner’s anthroposophy---that man will believe anything, Daniel: pendulum realignment, better living through trepanation, Light Beings from the Pleiades, pole-dancing crab boys from Aldebaran, you name it. You’ll forgive me for believing he might believe in the mass activation of the pineal gland. YOu have to admit: It hardly seems a stretch.

    >>I never claim to be an expert on indigenous people or on Mayan culture. My book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl tells the story of how I became fascinated by the prophetic tradition of indigenous cultures like the Maya and Hopi. This came out of my exploration of shamanism, and my realization that shamanic practices have validity. Therefore it seemed necessary to explore the knowledge of indigenous cultures in a way that didn’t dismiss their ideas as superstition or folktale.< <

    No, you don’t explicitly claim to be an advance publicist for ancient Mayan pre-cogs. Nor did I say you did. But you do legitimate your New Age spiel, at every turn, with references to “indigenous cultures” and “shamanic practices,” which I find odious for the reasons stated in my essay. Apparently, Xeni Jardin, to whose knowledge in these matters I defer, finds them noxious as well. Interesting that you’ve chosen not to address her directly, since her quotes make up a little less than half of my essay.

    >>“…we’re on the verge of transitioning …” It is telling that Dery does not bother to quote from my work directly, but instead uses a NY Times quote, which already presented a distorted version of what I was hoping to convey. As Dery must know, journalists have a lot of power in how they choose to present ideas and information, and can use tone and rhetoric to influence the reader’s perception of any particular idea or personality. As I have written, I believe we are moving toward an integration of the empirical, rational approach of Western scientific knowledge with the intuitive and psychic wisdom traditions of shamanic cultures and Eastern philosophy such as Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism. As Dean Radin and others have analyzed, there is a lot of good evidence for the validity of psychic phenomena. One interesting example is The Global Consciousness Project, out of Princeton University. In the future, one may hope that explorations of human psychic capacities will become a legitimate and accepted object of science. I think it is conceivable that this exploration will be part of a deeper shift in our civilization’s fundamental paradigm.< <

    Well, did you utter the quote in question, or not? I can’t imagine why you’d blame it on the Times’s “distortions,” since it’s a close paraphrase of the argument you make in the opening pages of your book 2012. The Times quote I used---
    “the rational, empirical worldview...has reached its expiration date...we’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical, and shamanic.”
    ---reiterates the argument you belabor throughout 2012, with its fulminations against Cartesian materialism, linear thought, yadda yadda yadda. In 2012, you write, “This book advances a radical theory: that human consciousness is rapidly transitioning to a new state, a new intensity of awareness that will manifest as a different understanding, a transformed realization, of time and space and self...we have reached the time of prophecy...this logic and these laws could be radically different from the ones upheld by the narrowly defined materialist paradigm...” (pps. 1-15) You claim the Times did you dirty, and that I added insult to injury by recycling the quote, then proceed to make more or less the same argument, here, that you make in your book. Why recant? Have the courage of your convictions, man, hilarious though they be.

    And speaking of hilarity...

    Dean Radin? The same Radin handed his head by this lengthy review in the Skeptic’s Dictionary? (http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/radin1.html) The Radin of whom the same, well-respected publication wrote,
    “Radin distorts the history of psi research, omitting the seedy side of the story, and abuses statistics to make his case for the paranormal. He repeatedly shouts out the incredible odds against chance of getting some result in an experiment that allegedly demonstrates telepathy, precognition, or psychokinesis, yet he still can't find a single person in any of these experiments who is even aware of a psychic ability, much less able to demonstrate one under properly controlled conditions. In the end, what needs to be explained is not psychic phenomena but why Radin and other parapsychologists think these experiments demonstrate psi.”( http://skepdic.com/refuge/entangledreview.html)

    That Radin? The guy who believes in some Teilhardian flapdoodle called “noetic science,” a contradiction in terms if ever there was one? That guy?

    Oh.

    As for The Global Consciousness Project, are you referring to the project on whose findings the physicist and mathematician Robert Matthews handed down this verdict: “The only conclusion to emerge from the Global Consciousness Project so far is that data without a theory is as meaningless as words without a narrative”?( http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090209/FRONTIERS/272091981/1036/OPINION)

    I see.

    >>I think we are being challenged, individually and collectively, to become more conscious about our behavior as a species, and to develop a sustainable way of life before we have degraded the integrity of the biosphere to the point where global cataclysm becomes inevitable. … We are seeking to help build off-line communities, and disseminate information about practical actions people can take to make a positive change to themselves and their world, from taking permaculture classes to participating in shamanic ceremonies.
    As a last note, it should be recalled that the contemporary Maya did not maintain an unbroken tradition of using the Long Count Calendar, which points to December 2012 as the end of a 5,125-year cycle. … Therefore, visiting a contemporary Mayan priest may not shed much light on this particular subject. I did visit the Hopi, who have similar oral prophecies and seem to have been connected with the Maya many centuries ago by trade routes, and spoke with one of their elders – his perspective on the transition between world ages is presented in the epilogue of my book.< <

    In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream, Daniel, but take it from me: that sound you can’t hear is me, screaming. Quibbling over whether contemporary Maya have access to the wisdom of their precognitive forebears is TOTALLY BOGUS, DUDE. It misses the point by a galactic-equatorial mile. Believing that a long-dead paleolithic peoples could predict some sort of global metanoia is the limit case in magical thinking. Come to think of it, so is believing in some sort of global metanoia. That, in essence, is my argument. If you can't grasp that numb, you're beyond redemption.

    I applaud your efforts to raise consciousness about the desperately urgent need to tread more lightly on the earth. But I get off the Magic Bus when you start blathering about “shamanic ceremonies” as an example of “practical actions” we might take in an effort to save the planet. Growing a topknot, drilling a hole in my forehead to open my Third Eye, and waiting for the eschaton isn’t going to shrink my carbon footprint. I’m with Erik Davis: why do you even need the 2012 meme, except to shuck a few credulous New Age vegetables---to part the pink-eared seekers at Burning Man from their buck? You want to heighten environmental awareness and exhort trust-fund zippies to move away from their fossil fuel-intensive lifestyles? That hoarse bellow in the back pew is me yelling "Amen!"

    But, as I’ve said in this comment thread, you can’t have it both ways.

    Either you believe in reverse causality or you don’t---and I don’t.

    Either you believe in what Freud called the omnipotence of thoughts or you don’t---and I don’t.

    Either you believe in appeals in to the better angels of our reasoning, critical intellects, or you offer aid and comfort to all who do not: the flat-earth fundies, the Glenn Beck birthers, the anti-immunization kooks, the 9/11 conspiracy nuts, the global-warming deniers, the anti-evolution brigade.

    You can’t call for practical action, then offer “shamanic ceremonies” as an example. You can't make progressive noises, then champion the same faith-based, fact-challenged worldview endorsed by the reactionary Orks of Unreason at Fox News and the Michelle Malkin compound. The particulars of your worldview versus theirs don't matter; if you're a magical thinker, you're joined at the hip with all magical thinkers. John Hoopes, the archaeologist at Kansas University quoted in the NYT article, has it right: "Referring to occult interpretations of the Maya, he says: 'What's interesting is how this fosters community in the New Age movement, and elsewhere, the same way that the anti-evolutionists have coalesced around intelligent design. I've started using the terms 'religious right' and 'spiritual left.'"

    If you want to save the planet, stop throwing thumbtacks in the path of human progress, Daniel. We’ve come a long way from the cowering superstitions of ancient mesoamerica. Come over to the bright side; join us in the mind-expanding light of reason. Repeat after me: Out, false prophet! Out, spirit of unreason! The blood of Cthulhu commands you! The blood of Cthulhu commands you!

    Oh, and one more thing...

    >>My book is currently available through Google books online – anyone can read some of it there and see what they think about my perspective compared to these ad hominem attacks.<<

    Love the product placement. I was wondering when you were going to pass the collection plate. Reminds me of that scene in Marjoe, the documentary about a real-life Elmer Gantry who makes a bundle fleecing the credulous. He and his partner in bunco artistry empty sacks of money onto a bed, the fruits of a single church service. “Glory Jee to Beezus!,” shouts Marjoe, with an evil twinkle in his eye.

    The Truth will set you free.

  32. awry says:

    Have any of you Pinchbeck-bashers actually read his books?

    If you had, you would realize that nowhere does Pinchbeck (a) proclaim to be an expert on Mayan culture, or (b) state that he believes 2012 will be the end of the world.

    His books do expose the reader to the Mayan calendar and a variety of interpretations of the known archeology/anthropology surrounding it. They also explain some of the astronomy associated with the calendar, which is absolutely astounding given the Maya’s lack of sophisticated observational technology.

    His books explore many possibilities and explanations of the significance of 2012, including skeptical views.

    The native Mayan tour guide I had at Tikal this spring explained it by drawing a circle in the dirt, and dividing it horizontally in two. He said that we were just exiting the bottom half of the circle, the underworld Xibalba, and that Dec. 2012 would mark the beginning of our emergence into the next half of the circle. He wouldn’t predict what the beginning of the new cycle would bring, only that it was the changing of an era.

    This is essentially consistent with what I took from reading Pinchbeck’s books. Yes, Pinchbeck has his own New Age slant on what the new cycle might mean. But it’s not the doom and gloom we’re seeing in Hollywood pop culture right now.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I really like the word bunkum.

  34. magicbean says:

    I tried to point out to a whole lot of 2012ers (with no success, of course) that one’s behavior would change pretty drastically if one really and truly for realz believed the world was going to end. All of them were living remarkably boring and normal lives, watching movies, arguing on the net, and drinking expensive organic fruit juices. The end of the world is apparently not very motivating.

    Pinchbeck asked me once what it would take for me to see the end of the world coming. I replied “Evidence.” To which he replied with a stream of erudite-sounding nonsense. His book about 2012 is also deeply, frighteningly sexist. So he’s got that going for him too, on top of the racism!

    What deeply annoys me is that the 2012ers pay so much lip service to valuing indigenous culture and wisdom, and yet make ZERO effort to create indigenous culture of their own – they simply purchase it from poor brown people. They don’t know their own landscapes, their own plants, or their own ecosystems. It’s all about effin’ burning man. No more than a passing regard for the suffering of actual, here-and-now indigenous communities. No understanding or questioning how their lives and decisions are part of the power structures that keep poor communities sick, underfed, and underpaid. Bleargh.

  35. flytch says:

    Everybody sing… it’s the end of the world as we know it…
    LOL…
    I love this. how else are dweebs going to get laid unless there is some kind of end that no one wants to stay a virgin for?
    This is almost as good as dragon myth… ;)

  36. M. Dery says:

    However, I WILL take a moment to address the charges leveled in #33:

    “[T]he debunkers inevitably come off as sort of mean. I don’t see the reason or point of calling out people who believe random things as “stupid.” Even if they are. It’s just mean and unnecessary to point it out. Smart people should have more important things to do then take out easy targets. If you think you are fighting the good fight against ignorance by belittling believers, I have to disagree. People are more likely to tune out/shut down when they think you don’t respect or understand them. They will find a way to belittle you in their minds and then you’re just left with one more intractable war.”

    For the love of Cthulhu, I can’t fathom this idea that calling to account a public intellectual—or the Marjoe of the Ayhuasca crowd, or the Elmer Gantry of Esalen, or whatever Pinchbeck is—is “mean.” If you’re going to strike Enlightened Master poses on The Colbert Report, Expect to Be Called to Account for Your Ideas. Especially if you’re trying to wring bestsellers and media buzz and lecture gigs out of your ideas. Since when did taking someone’s ideas seriously enough to critique them constitute an intellectual waterboarding?

    Then, too, there’s a whiny, Stuart Smalley quality to this charge that has always galled me. It’s why the Europeans tease us about our ironylessness. We’ve elevated the Cult of Self-Esteem to a national religion. We don’t dare challenge anyone’s beliefs, no matter how preposterous, for fear that we’ll spray RoundUp on the little flower blooming in every heart. Tell it to Mencken. Or Bierce. Or Paine. Or Voltaire. Or Juvenal. Or Vidal. Or Burroughs. Or the Goya of HORRORS OF WAR. Or the Berlin-era George Grosz. Or John Heartfield. Anyone making this argument is demonstrably ignorant of the history of sharp-edged social and political satire, not to mention Oxfordian debate.

    Another point:

    Yes, I DO think I’m fighting the good fight against uncritical thought and the horse it rode in on—in this case, Pinchbeck. I’m not alone; I stand in a long historical continuum (see names above) and stand alongside contemporary devil’s advocates such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Susan Jacoby, Barbara Ehrenreich, etc.

    The ability to think critically—call it skeptical inquiry, call it Cartesian reason—coupled with some sense of cultural relativity and historical context DOES strike me as imperiled. (Is it more imperiled than it was in, say, Montaigne’s France, when according to a New Yorker article I just read, something like 90% of the population was illiterate? A subject for debate.) In an age of 9/11 truth squadders, birthers, tea-partiers, anti-immunization activists, global-warming deniers, Intelligent Design advocates, and all of those throwaway polls that show a significant percentage of American high-school students think the Holocaust was a party thrown to celebrate the end of WW2 (or whatever), I DO worry that the yahoos are gaining ground.

    Which is why I believe it’s the job of all who think critically to expose the irrationality and the scientific and historical and anthropological and ethnographic illiteracy and/or counter-factuality of these belief systems. And to beat on them until they bleed pink aura from their third eyes. If we’re going to declare all crackpot cosmologies protected species, hell, we’d might as well burn every expose of Scientology or Elizabeth Clare Prophet or Jerry Falwell.

    I take the point that giving someone an Ultimate Cage beatdown isn’t likely to win him over. But my essay, like Swift’s “Modest Proposal” or Juvenal’s satirical digs at brown-nosing courtesans in imperial Rome or William S. Burroughs’s mordant “Roosevelt After Inauguration” or Mencken’s scarifying mockery of the “booboisie,” was addressed more to the thoughtful reader on the fence, the reasonable soul weighing the merits of 2012 theories, who MIGHT be swayed by polemic—sharply argued, yes; cuttingly funny, in my dreams; but well-supported, I hope, by the evidence at hand—than the True Believer.

    If you’ve abandoned argument based on material evidence and point-by-point exposition, as too many 2012-ers (and certainly Pinchbeck) seem to have done, then you’re not my target demographic. Sure, I’m happy to goad you into a tail-chasing frenzy. But I’m resigned to the sad truth that your petted beliefs are impervious to fact, as safely unassailable as a Young Earth creationist’s.

    • morgan says:

      Mark: “But I’m resigned to the sad truth that your petted beliefs are impervious to fact”

      What is fact, in this case especially? Who holds the “truth”? Things are made up as we go along. 2012 is an open source venture.

      And while there is certainly crackpots for 2012, there’s crackpots in any place, event, scene or belief – whether it be prophesy or technology or writing or “culture jamming” …the list is endless.

      Wheat from the chaff, yes. Find the “facts” – sure. Criticize, challenge and investigate, of course.

      However, and I’m not trying to defend Daniel Pinchbeck, he can do that himself, but people jump on Daniel, often without really reading his work, and dismiss it all on the basis of his supposed assertions regarding 2012.

      Here’s something he wrote in his blog:

      “I don’t know whether to stockpile gold or create an intentional community. I don’t know whether to stay in Manhattan or head for the hills. I don’t know whether we are approaching global enlightenment or regressing into barbarism. I don’t know whether biotechnology and nanotechnology will fuse to give us immortal physical bodies or if we will all croak as our mistreated planet falls apart. I don’t know if anything special will happen on December 21, 2012. I don’t know if I should start a riot or throw a party. I don’t know whether to panic or relax.

      Something seems to be happening that is beyond my capacity to understand or articulate. I can only assume other people are feeling this way as well. We are witnessing the collapse of the old, rigidified structures, while the new hasn’t come into realization yet — that is, if there is going to be a new anything.”

      That doesn’t sound like the Pinchbeck people often try to throw into the mud. That doesn’t sound like expousing “some sort of spiritual singularity”.

      It’s a pretty realistic perspective on the situation we are all facing and participating in, globally.

      Pinchbeck, and others, seem to be investigating (and sometimes creating) different ways of living (via the social, economic, ecological, etc) – and it seems, to me, to be the “debunkers” (and/or menopausal mystics)who perpetuate random, boring and freaky myths.

      2012 represents many things. But, on one level, it’s a drop in the bucket of wondrous & wild things that are alerting people to the “fact” that the world we live on and within is a crazy, crazy, crazy place.

      Hopefully we can make it better, healthier for everyone. If the 2012 meme is part of that, what’s the problem?

      anyway, just for more fun, another Terence McKenna quote:

      “The Beliefs of a Witoto shaman and the beliefs of a Princeton phenomenologist have an equal chance of being correct, and there are no arbiters of who is right. Here is something we have not assimilated. We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.”

  37. M. Dery says:

    @58: I. was. horsing. around. That said, point taken that “menopausal mysticism” is sexist. Of course, it’s also funny, in a blithely misogynist way. Anyone writing humorous polemic in the Biercian/Menckenesque mode walks a high wire toward truth, with an excess of political correctness on one side and a Macaca Moment on the other. (Mencken, of course, is a genial anti-semite, and whether we should forgive him that, given his savage wit and heavily decorated service to The Truth, was the subject of a long debate in the NATION letters column, if memory serves.) I console myself with the P.C. fiction that Men of a Certain Age can be menopausal, too, in a sense. But that might just be an intellectual contortion on my part. I seriously doubt McKenna was, in his heart of hearts, a misogynist, since out of the other corner of his mouth he often spouted New Age homilies about the virtues of matriarchal cultures and the comparative horrors of the patriarchy, at whose feet he laid most of Western civilization’s sins.

    As for the cultural corrosions of snarkiness versus those of irrationality, let me be clear: the unconscious and the irrational are inexhaustible fonts of creativity. The world would be a poorer place without UN CHIEN ANDALOU, “Meshes of the Afternoon,” “Dog Star Man,” and on and on. But irrationality in the service of a political platform or a cultural agenda (like Pinchbeck’s) is at best a lamentable squandering of energies better spent on roll-up-your-sleeves activism that addresses the material conditions of peoples’ lives in a practical way that stands at least a chance of making a difference. And the stone ignorance that springs from faith-based irrationality (and when I say “faith,” I included secular ideologies founded on scientific or historical illiteracy) is a plaque upon our society—the mother of a million little evils, from the anti-immunization craze, which is demonstrably dangerous, to the anti-evolution pushback by evangelicals, to hate crimes against gays born of the conviction that being gay is not an accident of birth but rather a failure of moral nerve. Pinchbeck and his followers aren’t problematic because they harness the irrational in the way that, say, Andre Breton did, they’re problematic because much of what they believe—about geology, astrophysics, the ancient Maya, and so forth—is thumpingly, provably WRONG. Wrong in an empirical sense. Wrong in an internally contradictory sense. Wrong in a magical-thinking, omnipotence-of-thoughts, contra-to-the-laws-of-physics sense. It’s an insult to common sense, let alone scientific literacy.

    If you truly believe that “snarkiness” (a vexed term, since one man’s snark is another’s saving irony) is more culturally corrosive, well, we’re at a parting of the ways. For my money, a felicitous, Marcuse-ian alienation—call it an ironic distance from the culture around you—is the only armor we have against the seductions of the Spectacle. Rowdy Roddy Piper spells it all out for us in John Carpenter’s incomparable THEY LIVE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They_Live). Not only do I not agree with Denby’s crankypants ravings about the culture rot of snark, in his latest book, but I believe, on the contrary, that snark—I prefer irony—is the critical thinker’s heat shield against the brain-softening, soul-shriveling effects of consumer culture at its worst. And one symptom of that culture is faddish vacuousness like the 2012 bandwagon.

  38. JoshuaZ says:

    Greengestalt,

    The comparison to Santa Claus is bad. Frankly, I think that deliberately lying to little kids is off the wall and I honestly don’t understand what could go through parents’ minds when they lie to their own children. But hey, the children are eventually going to learn better.

    That’s not the case with a lot of paranormal beliefs. These are adults who should know better. They are spending millions of dollars a year. It isn’t as harmful as say a lot of the anti-vaccine nonsense or other alternative medicine, but people are still wasting money.

    Beliefs about the end of the world have their own dangerous element to them. A substantial fraction of American evangelicals believe that the world is going to end soon and therefore believe that conserving resources is pointless (and I’ve met Lubavitchers with an identical argument). The previous US President’s apocalyptic beliefs figured in his decision to invade Iraq.

    Moreover, the people who do engage in trying to explain why these claims are wrong often the same people who try to explain that other claims are wrong. Thus, the skeptical movement has people pointing out the problems with religions of all sorts as well as conspiracy theories and paranormal beliefs. They spend their time dealing with all sorts of claims, and don’t bother trying to focus on any single issue. The goal is reality-based, critical thinking.

    You are incidentally wrong about also about conspiracy beliefs. The Birthers for example are taking up real resources and promoting extremely unhealthy paranoia. One also only needs to see what happens when cultures have conspiracy beliefs repeated without any debunking. You get cultures like the charedim in Jerusalem who rioted when social workers took away a child from a mother who was being deeply abusive. Or you get Palestinians who are convinced that vaccines are part of an Israeli conspiracy to kill them. In parts of Africa there is hysteria about witches stealing peoples penises which have lead to riots and murders. These are but a few examples. Conspiratorial and paranormal beliefs aren’t harmless. These beliefs make money for con-men and kill innocent victims.

    • SamSam says:

      That’s not the case with a lot of paranormal beliefs. These are adults who should know better. They are spending millions of dollars a year. It isn’t as harmful as say a lot of the anti-vaccine nonsense or other alternative medicine, but people are still wasting money.

      That sounds like an argument to teach people more science, not to go around “debunking” what any sane person knows is BS in the first place. What would be achieved by showing that Pinchbeck’s a scam artist? Nothing, because anyone who believed his silly stuff is just going to go and find the next silly thing to spend their money on, be it crystals, amulets or person-shaped ginseng roots.

      And I still don’t understand why this is worse than the multimillion-dollar feng shui business. Is it because the feng shui profiteers are often Chinese? Or because, though we all know that buying crap to make your house more feng shui is just as bunk as this, it seems somehow closer to the original bunk?

      • JoshuaZ says:

        Sam, but people do spend time debunking Feng Shui. Moreover, the problem isn’t teaching people more science. It is teaching people more critical thinking skills. The hope is that by examining enough of these beliefs that people will eventually learn.

        Also, I don’t think that the skeptic movement is really aiming at the die-hard credophiles. You are right that they are going to just likely go to another fringe or pseudoscientific belief. However, the aim seems to be at the people who might be more borderline. I don’t think the severe credophiles will even read this sort of thing.

        I’m not sure how effective the skeptical movement as a whole is. Probably not very much so. Unfortunately it is very hard to test the effectiveness in any reliable fashion.

  39. Koowan says:

    I hate to say it, but the linked article strikes me more as a hit piece than informative journalism. Yeah, we all know the whole 2012 thing is bunk, plain and simple. Unfortunately, the article seems to be mostly ad homineum with little background to support its claims. Almost by default I would tend to agree with critics of this 2012 nonsense, but the article fails to give any real information on who these kooks are, what they are saying and why its bunk. To just automatically label them as nutjobs without any good examples of their nutjobbery tastes like yellow journalism.

    In particular, I have to take issue with Xeni’s idea that the living Maya people must automatically be the experts of choice for questions about their own ancient ancestors. I’d be willing to bet that barely one in millions of WASP Americans could explain, even in a rudimentary way, the belief systems of the ancient Celts, Angles or Saxons and the sad fact that living Mayans cannot understand the glyphs left behind by their ancestors suggests that they too are sufficiently far removed from their own past that assumption of expertise is very likely to be hard to defend.

    I completely agree with the Mayan priest’s statement that the 2012 nonsense is typical gringo behavior, but I wish the article told me more about why these people are ignorant gringos rather than just sticking the obvious label on their foreheads.

    I really think this can be done better.

  40. Freddie Freelance says:

    Oh my God, Oh my god, omygod! I just realized my calendar ends on December 31st of THIS YEAR! This means we don’t have until 2012, but only a Month and a Half before the world ends! Why hasn’t anyone been saying anything about the fact that the end of a calendar cycle means the end of the world before now?!?!

  41. magicbean says:

    morgan, that’s the classic 2012 backpedal…”Um, it was just an IDEA you guys, like duh, I totally didn’t mean it for real, i just wanted to spike the conversation!”
    Be smarter than that.

    While there’s a great deal to be said about the collective imagination defining the terms of reality (let’s talk power structures and poverty), it’s a cop-out to ignore discernment, sense, and humility for one’s own lack of knowledge…especially from those offering a spiritual pathway for the probably vulnerable. (I’m not even talking anymore about co-opted brown people).

    There’s a fine line between the McKennas (wacky harmless) of the world and the guy who ran that deadly sweat lodge in Sedona (wacky deadly).

    “religious ontologies will be marketed like beers!”

    Doesn’t it strike you as a failure of imagination to reduce ontology, and even a portrait of the future, to something that can be merely consumed? Yuck.

    But that’s what I disapprove of in the 2012 world anyway: the consumerism dressed up as wisdom. The question should not be “what kind of funhouse can reality be for me me me”, but “what kind of reality best benefits everyone, especially the worst off.”

    • morgan says:

      Magicbean: I’m not backpedaling and I’m not copping out.
      It’s not simply a matter of spiking the conversation (or spiking the punch, for that matter). There’s a lot more to it than that. If anything, no matter what side you’re on or what flavour you subscribe to, the magic (bean) of 2012 does seem to make people think about “OK what is going on here?”

      For me, 2012 aint nuthing but a number. As William Gibson (???) or (someone else(?)) put it: “The numbering of the years is a human thing, the Earth is going to do what it’s going to do”

      “what kind of reality best benefits everyone, especially the worst off.”

      I agree.

      That’s what I’m on about, read my blog at Reality Sandwich if you want to confirm that.

      :)

  42. fALk says:

    2012 – not the end of the world but start of a new epoch – maybe the epoch of artificial intelligences – maybe the start of the singularity ;) maybe a good thing maybe nothing happens – I agree with the aforementioned poster that said “it should be a huge freaking party” no matter what happens or not.

  43. Anonymous says:

    From Daniel Pinchbeck:

    Unfortunately I just discovered Dery’s article and boingboing’s write-up on it.

    In his piece, Dery goes out of his way to deliberately misinterpret my ideas, and distort them beyond recognition. It seems clear that he has never taken the time to read or even open my book on the subject, which was the product of five years of thought and effort.

    Here are a few of many mistakes and misunderstandings to clear up:

    1. I was not a consultant on the 2012 film and had nothing to do with it until after it was completed. Sony invited me to be part of a panel of three 2012 “experts” for a media launch in Wyoming and then for the premiere in Hollywood, after the film was made. I had a lot of mixed feelings about getting involved with this, but hoped that I would be able to use the media attention to put out a message of hope and possibility, to counteract the film’s message of destruction and passivity. I am also working on a documentary project that tries to shift the discourse around “2012” into a discussion about practical solution-oriented approaches to global problems, such as permaculture, bioremediation, and the development of alternative means for exchanging value outside of debt-based currencies issued by private banking consortiums. The teaser can be viewed here: http://www.2012timeforchange.com .

    2. I do not think that there will be a “multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland.” That quote was taken out of context, I can only presume intentionally. I wrote a paragraph describing our Evolver Spore, a monthly gathering of people connected with the social network I helped start, http://www.evolver.net, on the theme of 2012. The write-up included an assortment of exaggerated possible outcomes, in an effort to be humorous:

    “Where will you be when the 5,125 year Long Count Calendar of the Classical Maya ends on December, 21, 2012? Will you be hiding in an underground cave from global cataclysm and magnetic polar reversal? Will you be entering a multidimensional realm of hyperspace triggered by mass activation of the pineal gland? Will you be picking up the pieces of a ruined world or dancing the night away at the party at the end of time? Considering that nobody knows what’s going to happen in 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar functions as a tremendously intriguing meme upon which we can project our hopes and fears, dreams and desires.” By the way, this was promotional copy and not taken from one of my authored pieces.

    3. I never claim to be an expert on indigenous people or on Mayan culture. My book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl tells the story of how I became fascinated by the prophetic tradition of indigenous cultures like the Maya and Hopi. This came out of my exploration of shamanism, and my realization that shamanic practices have validity. Therefore it seemed necessary to explore the knowledge of indigenous cultures in a way that didn’t dismiss their ideas as superstition or folktale. As a Western thinker, I felt it was important, and valid, to seek the points of juncture between our modern philosophical tradition and what can be directly experienced through shamanic initiation, which is what I tried to do in the book. I never claim to speak for indigenous people. As a writer and thinker, I only ever claim to speak for myself, which is acceptable, I hope.

    4. “…we’re on the verge of transitioning …” It is telling that Dery does not bother to quote from my work directly, but instead uses a NY Times quote, which already presented a distorted version of what I was hoping to convey. As Dery must know, journalists have a lot of power in how they choose to present ideas and information, and can use tone and rhetoric to influence the reader’s perception of any particular idea or personality. As I have written, I believe we are moving toward an integration of the empirical, rational approach of Western scientific knowledge with the intuitive and psychic wisdom traditions of shamanic cultures and Eastern philosophy such as Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism. As Dean Radin and others have analyzed, there is a lot of good evidence for the validity of psychic phenomena. One interesting example is The Global Consciousness Project, out of Princeton University. In the future, one may hope that explorations of human psychic capacities will become a legitimate and accepted object of science. I think it is conceivable that this exploration will be part of a deeper shift in our civilization’s fundamental paradigm.

    5. Rather than thinking we will be magically transported through a psychic portal in 2012, what I have proposed throughout my work is exactly the opposite. I think we are being challenged, individually and collectively, to become more conscious about our behavior as a species, and to develop a sustainable way of life before we have degraded the integrity of the biosphere to the point where global cataclysm becomes inevitable. Recognizing that our media was constricting the debate around many issues, my company launched Reality Sandwich ( http://www.realitysandwich.com ) two years ago, to allow for more voices and ideas to come forth. We have published, and continue to publish, many skeptical pieces, in an effort to broaden the discourse.
    Recently, we launched http://www.evolver.net, a social network, to help facilitate the process of social transformation that will happen as more and more people awaken to the destructive nature of our current system. We are seeking to help build off-line communities, and disseminate information about practical actions people can take to make a positive change to themselves and their world, from taking permaculture classes to participating in shamanic ceremonies.

    As a last note, it should be recalled that the contemporary Maya did not maintain an unbroken tradition of using the Long Count Calendar, which points to December 2012 as the end of a 5,125-year cycle. Modern archaeologists have reconstructed this. In an interview with me for our film, Michael Coe, Yale archaeologist, acknowledged that the approaching end of this cycle was recognized by the Classic Maya as a transition between one World Age and the next, a cyclical process of destruction and recreaction, described in the Popol Vuh, their creation myth. Therefore, visiting a contemporary Mayan priest may not shed much light on this particular subject. I did visit the Hopi, who have similar oral prophecies and seem to have been connected with the Maya many centuries ago by trade routes, and spoke with one of their elders – his perspective on the transition between world ages is presented in the epilogue of my book.

    My book is currently available through Google books online – anyone can read some of it there and see what they think about my perspective compared to these ad hominem attacks.

  44. wackyvorlon says:

    To my understanding, the ancient Maya had a fondness for calendars. This is only one calendar system among several they had invented, and this is the only one that has an “end” in the vicinity of 2012.

  45. cymk says:

    I find it amusing that the so called experts of mayan culture/ the mayan calendar talk about how it all goes in cycles, that the calendar is all about cycles. But when it comes to the perceived end, there are no more cycles. Im gonna go out on a limb but what use would a culture have with a calendar that did not repeat? Every calendar I can think of in recorded history has a start, and end, and when it ends they pick right back up where the calendar began.

    If Quetzalcoatl wants to come and rub everyones pineal glands, great. But I’m not holding my breath. This doomsday, like the numerous ones before it, will come and go like the day before it. Believers will do stupid shit in preparation for this “event” only to see their efforts go to waste, and the rest of us will giggle and point fingers at them.

  46. M. Dery says:

    @57 (Morgan):

    “Who holds the “truth”? Things are made up as we go along.”

    If you believe that, there’s no percentage in pursuing this. And I say that as someone well-familiar with Derridean and postmodern assaults on totalizing, ahistorical, culture-transcending notions of Truth (capital “T”). As I said, right here, in my debate with Steven Pinker, many of our notions of the normative are culturally bounded and historically located. But that doesn’t mean all truths are equally relative, or that there’s no such thing as an empirical fact you can bang a hammer on.

    “And while there is certainly crackpots for 2012, there’s crackpots in any place, event, scene or belief – whether it be prophesy or technology or writing or “culture jamming” …the list is endless.”

    Oh, for Cthulhu’s sake! The 2012 flapdoodle, like the Harmonic Convergence and the eschatological ravings of the Millerites and the Seventh Day Adventists and the Heaven’s Gate Cult, are FOUNDED on crackpot-ism. The whole thing is steered by crackpots, subscribed to by kooktopians, and consecrated to apocalyptic fantasies founded on pulp myths so risible they’d bring a blush to Rosicrucian cheeks. To say that the percentage of crackpott-ism among 2012-ers (if such a thing can be quantified) is not greater than that “in any place, event, scene, or belief” is to lift off from the planet of common sense. Do you honestly believe that the scientific and historical illiteracy required to swallow this stuff without triggering an intellectual gag reflex are just as pervasive in, say, the pancreatic oncology department at Sloane-Kettering? Or the structural-engineering team behind your average skyscraper? Or the people chopping the code that makes the Mars rovers run?

    I celebrate High Weirdness, and rejoice in Happy Mutation. But I draw the line at benighted, pre-Copernican ignorance. It’s the enemy of human progress and, ironically, of the very environmental and social-justice activism Pinchbeck claims to support. If wants to save the planet and make a Brotherhood of All Mankind, he’d do well to stop sucking his saffron lollipop and follow the example of boots-on-the-ground activists. Xeni’s engagement with the problems of our moment is only one model among many.

  47. Koowan says:

    Magicbean: “What deeply annoys me is that the 2012ers pay so much lip service to valuing indigenous culture and wisdom, and yet make ZERO effort to create indigenous culture of their own – they simply purchase it from poor brown people.”

    I’m not so sure the 2012′s actually know anything about the indigenous cultures they claim to value at all. Everything I’ve seen from them to date strikes me as very deeply seated confirmation bias. In other words, they seem to just cherry-pick their “evidence” to an almost pathological level.

    The fact that 2012′ers actively reject the overwhelming evidence against them, which includes both what we do know about the ancient cultures the 2012′ers claim to respect, but also the thoughts and beliefs that living, indigenous cultures themselves have on the subject, reminds me more of creationists than sincere intellectual inquiry.

    The Emperor has no clothes — not silk robes nor native garb.

  48. Brainspore says:

    I get the impression that the debunkers have been over-hyping the number of “2012 Believers” just so they can knock ‘em down. I know plenty of new age/hippie folks and have yet to meet anyone who honestly believes the world is coming to an end any time soon.

    The only names I’ve heard associated with the “doomsday is coming!” crowd are the people who are trying to make a buck off of book sales and such, and it’s likely that even those people don’t believe their own prophesies. (If they did then they certainly wouldn’t own any long-term investments.)

  49. Anonymous says:

    I remembered with amusement that “pinchbeck” refers to a copper-zinc alloy that’s used in place of real gold in costume jewellery. By extension, it also means fake or bogus. Hmmmm….