Is our educational system this bad?

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Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 29, 2012 - 11:50am PT
2012 Mayan Apocalypse Rumors Have Dark Side, NASA Warns

By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer | SPACE.com

NASA scientists took time on Wednesday (Nov. 28) to soothe 2012 doomsday fears, warning against the dark side of Mayan apocalypse rumors frightened children and suicidal teens who truly fear the world may come to an end Dec. 21.

These fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. On the 21st, the date of the winter solstice, a calendar cycle called the 13th b'ak'tun comes to an end. Although Maya scholars agree that the ancient Maya would not have seen this day as apocalyptic, rumors have spread that a cosmic event may end life on Earth on that day.

Thus NASA's involvement. The space agency maintains a 2012 information page debunking popular Mayan apocalypse rumors, such as the idea that a rogue planet will hit Earth on Dec. 21, killing everyone. (In fact, astronomers are quite good at detecting near-Earth objects, and any wandering planet scheduled to collide with Earth in three weeks would be the brightest object in the sky behind the sun and moon by now.)

"There is no true issue here," David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event today (Nov. 28). "This is just a manufactured fantasy." [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]

Real-world consequences

Unfortunately, Morrison said, the fantasy has real-life consequences. As one of NASA's prominent speakers on 2012 doomsday myths, Morrison said, he receives many emails and letters from worried citizens, particularly young people. Some say they can't eat, or are too worried to sleep, Morrison said. Others say they're suicidal.

"While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned," he said.

Not every 2012 apocalypse believer thinks the world will end on Dec. 21. Some, inspired by New Age philosophies, expect a day of universal peace and spiritual transformation. But it's impressionable kids who have NASA officials worried.

"I think it's evil for people to propagate rumors on the Internet to frighten children," Morrison said.

Myths and misconceptions

NASA scientists took questions via social media in the hour-long video chat, debunking doomsday myths from the rogue planet Nibiru to the danger of killer solar flares.

In fact, said NASA heliophysicist Lika Guhathakurta, it's true that the sun is currently in an active phase of its cycle, meaning electromagnetic energy has picked up. Large solar flares can impact electronics and navigation systems on Earth, but satellites monitoring the sun give plenty of warning and allow officials to compensate for the extra electromagnetic activity when it hits our atmosphere. What's more, Guhathakurta said, this particular solar maximum is the "wimpiest" in some time scientists have no reason to expect solar storms beyond what our planet has weathered in the past.

Nor are any near-Earth objects, planetary or otherwise, threatening to slam into our planet on Dec. 21, said Don Yeomans, a planetary scientist who tracks near-Earth objects at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The only close asteroid approach on the horizon is forecast to occur on Feb. 13, 2013, when an asteroid will pass within 4.5 Earth radii to our planet (for perspective, Earth's radius is 3,963 miles, or 6,378 kilometers). The asteroid is not going to hit Earth, Yeomans said.

Other rumors that the Earth's magnetic field will suddenly reverse or that the planet will travel almost 30,000 light-years and fall into the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy were also dismissed. (A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles, or 10 trillion km.)

One popular rumor that the planet will undergo a complete blackout from Dec. 23 to 25 earned a "What?" and blank looks from the panel of scientists.

Ultimately, concerns about Earth's fate would be better focused on slow-acting problems such as climate change rather than some sort of cosmic catastrophe, said Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College in California.

Mitzi Adams, a heliophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, agreed.

"The greatest threat to Earth in 2012, at the end of this year and in the future, is just from the human race itself," Adams said.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom.

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And what kind of parent raises a kid to believe this crap?
And, like, they're gonna listen to some geek from NASA?
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
i WASNT ON THE INTERNET during bush years...
Nov 29, 2012 - 11:51am PT
they voted obama, they will believe ANYTHING!
Reeotch

Trad climber
4 Corners Area
Nov 29, 2012 - 11:58am PT
This is what happens when you let the internet raise your kids . . .




But planet Niburu, now, that's a different issue!
brotherbbock

Trad climber
Alta Loma, CA
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:50pm PT
You guys trying to bring Klimmer out of the woodwork or what???
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:53pm PT
Millenarianism and conspiracy theories: Distracting Americans from reality for two centuries, and still going strong. (Although the millenarianism is over two centuries old, the conspiracy theories mostly have their roots in the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery from the late 19th century. So not quite two centuries, but close enough.)
Captain...or Skully

climber
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:53pm PT
Being suicidal over The End Of The World is foolish. You get it done with no effort. They should be stoked.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 29, 2012 - 01:55pm PT
HaHaHaHa Skully! You're so baaad! Have you no compassion?
Captain...or Skully

climber
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:57pm PT
I just thought they might look on the bright side.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
teach the controversy?
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Nov 29, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
Have you no compassion?

If you do have any compassion -- or if you have anything at all for that matter -- you might as well use it now. There's no point in saving it if the world is going to end in a few weeks.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Nov 29, 2012 - 02:05pm PT
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery from the late 19th century.
Unfortunately the roots of the POTEOZ go back much further than that. Read Umberto Eco "The Praque Spring". His notes at the end of the book document the factual history.

I don't blame this sort of nonsense on our educational system. I blame the prevalent social notion that belief based on supposition and mysticism have any rational equivalence to science/history. And therefore a lot of nitwits disbelieve what they ARE taught in school.
But don't get me started on that rant......again.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
SLO, Ca
Nov 29, 2012 - 02:09pm PT
I didn't know the world was ending on the 21st!!!!1111 I had so much more I wanted to accomplish....
John M

climber
Nov 29, 2012 - 02:25pm PT
I don't blame this sort of nonsense on our educational system. I blame the prevalent social notion that belief based on supposition and mysticism have any rational equivalence to science/history. And therefore a lot of nitwits disbelieve what they ARE taught in school.

I think that you are missing a point. Its not whether science is better then religion. Its that there are large numbers of gullible people out there. All they way up to our leadership.

Do you remember "iraq has weapons of mass destruction and attacked us on 9/11 and we should go and decimate them"? Our very own inspectors were saying "no they don't". But we were hungry for revenge and some answers and we followed a kook. Something like 65 percent of Americans supported that war at one time.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Nov 29, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
Its not whether science is better then religion. Its that there are large numbers of gullible people out there. All they way up to our leadership
I'd define "gullible" as accepting something as truth without questioning the rational basis for the claim. It's no accident that Bush's god told him to take us into Iraq. You can bet Colin Powell will rue to his dying day that he had faith in Rumsfeld, Cheney and Condi Rice.

Science/facts (not all facts are based on science: e.g. the Federal Debt is $X.Y trillion) and faith whether regarding ethics, doomsday or paradise) are mutually exclusive domains.
Conflating science/fact and faith never leads to good outcomes.

And that's all the ranting I'll do today.
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Nov 29, 2012 - 05:38pm PT
What do you expect? Half the country believes in a Bronze Age Sky God who constantly reads their minds and is watching everything they do all the time!!! When superstitions and myths are widly accepted as fact then anything becomes believable, even without any evidence to support it!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Nov 29, 2012 - 05:48pm PT
Yeah, where does Klimmer stand on this subject?

Because I revere everything he has to say.
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