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Stop it with the end-of-the-world theories already!

Published Jun 17th, 2020 2:44PM EDT
mayan calendar
Image: Reid Wiseman/NASA

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  • A researcher is arguing that the true “end date” of the Mayan calendar is June 21st, 2020, due to differences in the calendars.
  • The theory appears to have many errors of its own and has been miscalculated.
  • The world isn’t going to end in 2020, though it certainly feels like it could.

Hey, so, funny story: Remember back in 2012 when a bunch of people thought the world was going to end? The apocalypse was scheduled for December 21st — just four days before Christmas, what a bummer! — but it never actually happened. That’s good news (I think), but now at last one scientist is saying that the dates of the supposed end times were miscalculated at the time, and if the end of the world is coming, it should happen this week instead.

The original end-of-the-world hysteria was brought on by readings of the Mayan calendar. The calendar had an “end date,” which was believed to fall on December 21st, 2012. But there are many ways to calculate time, and apparently, the doomsday prophets got it all wrong.

The fact that the Mayan calendar had an end date didn’t seem to impress many scholars, and there were plenty of smart people who recognized that when a calendar “ends,” it just starts again from the beginning. This didn’t seem to matter much to those who were preparing for the end times, at least in the months before the supposed apocalypse date came and went.

A man named Paolo Tagaloguin, who describes himself as a researcher and Fulbright scholar, took to Twitter to explain that he believes the differences between the Mayan calendar and the Gregorian calendar were miscalculated, and that the real “end date” will actually come on June 21st, 2020.

Tagaloguin’s tweet reads as follows:

Following the Julian Calendar, we are technically in 2012… The number of days lost in a year due to the shift into Gregorian Calendar is 11 days… For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = 8 years.

However, as the Bad Astronomer himself, Phil Plait, points out in SyFy Wire, Tagaloguin’s own calculations appear to be littered with errors related to how the different calendars accounted for leap years. The claim that the calendar was adjusted by 11 days every year is incorrect, as it was only done once to bring the calendar back into alignment with annual cycles.

Great, so the calculations are all messed up, but what if they weren’t? Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway. As previously stated, people who are familiar with Mayan history have routinely said that the “end” of the calendar was simply an indication of the passage of time and that another larger unit of time had passed.

On December 31st, the world doesn’t end, we just start again. So enjoy your weekend, because even though 2020 has been rough, the world isn’t going to end in June.