Friday 31 October, 2014

Anthropologist uses ‘doomsday dates’ to debunk unscientific myths and beliefs

Published On: Fri, Nov 4th, 2011 | Anthropology | By BioNews

A University of Kansas anthropologist, who has debunked predictions that the world would end on 11/11/11 or Dec. 21, 2012, is now using the doomsday dates to teach critical thinking.

University of Kansas anthropologist and Maya scholar John Hoopes and his students are watching predicted doomsday dates such as 11/11/11 and Dec. 21, 2012, with considerable scepticism.

More than 1,000 books have been published on the 2012 myth, not to mention a plethora of Web sites on the topic.

Whether these dates mark a time for transformation of consciousness or a catastrophic end, they are part of a 2012 eschatological myth that originated with Christopher Columbus and Franciscan missionaries, not the ancient Maya calendar, Hoopes stated.

Hoopes expects the hype won’t hit its peak until well into 2012. Fear and fantasy both sell well, especially in uncertain times, he noted.

Wishful or magical thinking help perpetuate myths and beliefs that have no basis in science. Hoopes uses the 2012 myth and others to teach students to think critically and learn to distinguish science and myth.

“If a narrative has a moral message, then it probably is not a scientific story. Stories based in science ideally should be objective, not subjective,” Hoopes stated.

The persistence of the 2012 myth may reflect a fear of mortality that has nagged ancient and modern civilizations.

“It’s much easier to discuss mortality when we’re all in the same boat. Creating a concerned community allays people’s fears and allows us to project individual morality onto the world,” Hoopes explained.

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