Got any interesting plans for December 16th? Maybe you’re going to do what you normally would on most Sundays – go for a bracing walk, read the papers, quaff a convivial glass or two over lunch, take the family for a spin in the car.
However, according to some in the know, you won’t be going anywhere, because you and all around will be reduced to a pile of gunge, dust or speck of carbon – if you’re lucky – on the disintegrating fragments of a planet once called Earth that’s just been eviscerated.
So no sense in paying off bills early or promising to help granny put up the fairy lights any time in the week leading up the Christmas. And don’t start reading any long books, like Tolstoy’s 1,000-pager, War & Peace.
In fact, at the risk of lowering the tone of this blog, the only advantage I can visualise is using the possibility of the world’s end as an original chat-up line on, say, Friday the 14th – no point in leaving it until the last minute and that date’s propitious, since it’s not the Friday the 13th – so make a play for whoever takes your fancy.
In a recent opinion poll, incidentally, 63% said they’d prefer to go out with a bang (and I don’t think they were referring to Russian Roulette).
So, as you scratch your heads in puzzlement over what is this lunacy being chronicled, allow me to explain: it’s all to do with a humungous, rogue planet called Nibiru, which doomsayers claim will collide with Earth in a couple of Sundays time, causing a world-ending cataclysm.
Nibiru was ‘discovered’ in 1960 by Zecheria Sitchin, an Azerbaijani-American, historian-cum-astronomer, whose work was considered to be more sci-fi bonkers than bona fide science by contemporaries. Nonetheless, his books have sold millions worldwide and been translated into more than 25 languages.
Despite Sitchin’s doubters, countless Internet sites are now sizzling with oddball fantasies about Nibiru, religious cultist crackpots are digging out bomb shelters in anticipation of the end of time – not that a couple of metres of reinforced concrete will help – and suicide pacts are being drawn up by those a plum pudding short of Yuletide dinner.
Meanwhile, veteran NASA scientist David Morrison has fended off so many queries on the topic from the worried and weird on his webpage, Ask an Astrobiologist, he’s giving up answering any more – until next year, which offers a clue to his thoughts on the subject.
Now, at the risk of tempting fate, I somehow recall we’ve been here before.
For instance, Bugarach, a picturesque village in south-western France, was invaded by UFO/doomsday believers two years ago, claiming it would be the only place to survive a 2012 Armageddon, though no precise figures exist to say how many remain there, waiting to be proven right (and, on the off chance they are, who’s going to be around to hear them crow, ‘See, told you so!’)
Then there was 16th Century French seer, Nostradamus, whose interpreters believed he prophesied all manner of catastrophes, including the advent of Hitler, the Atomic bomb and probably the demise of our dishwasher the other day.
By the by, if the French have somehow grabbed a patent on doomsday and conspiracy theories, someone really ought to tell the Yanks – they’ll go ballistic over their whacky thunder being stolen.
Meanwhile, the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar has much to answer for, its adherents claiming a giant solar flare or expulsion of gases from the sun in December, 2012, will engulf the Earth, wreaking havoc upon mankind and the planet’s ecosystems.
And just for the record, not a few doomsday fans reckon a dramatic reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles is imminent and it will trigger a reversal of the planet’s rotation, thus hastening catastrophic events.
The only problem is they can’t be specific about the date, nor can those who think the slow decimation of the world’s bee population is a telltale omen of woe to come.
And thereby hangs the fatal flaw and mega let-down about doomsday and conspiracy theories. Not one, single notion I’ve read of has ever proven correct (though, in my circle of friends, the jury’s out on a WW2 bomber crashing on the Moon and Elvis not dying on the loo in 1977, but going on to sell used Harley Davidsons, alive and crooning somewhere in California).
Even Dan Brown shamelessly capitalised on the gullible with his best-seller, The Da Vinci Code, in which a bloodline from Jesus and Mary Magdalene permeated through the ranks of a branch of the French monarchy (see, I warned you about the French – any nation that can get away with charging 12 €uros for half-a-dozen grilled slugs in shells is bound to be a bit je ne sais quoi, dodgy even).
Naturally, there are occasional conspiracy theories science hasn’t yet answered – i.e. aircraft vanishing without trace in the Bermuda Triangle – and others that beg honest reappraisal, mainly because the official explanation seemed far too glib.
The most commonly cited of the latter is President Jack Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, which the Warren Commission report pinned squarely on Lee Harvey Oswald, who was conveniently bumped off by a conveniently, terminally-ill Jack Ruby. So go figure, as conspiracy theorists will still surely do.
Personally, after nearly 50 years of conjecture, if JFK had been murdered as part of a cunning plot, I think someone would have blabbed by now.
But I’m not, by nature, a conspiracy theorist.
On the other hand what if those blokes in Regent Street, Broadway, the Champs Elysee and Rome’s Via Veneto wearing sandwich-boards bearing the legend, ‘The End of the World is Nigh’, have a point?
My instinct, though, is they’ll be there come Monday, December the 17th, still be parading up and down, peddling the same old doomsday scenario.
All the same, I won’t be paying off my credit card bills early…you never know – and I wouldn’t want to die broke.