Today sees the opening of 2012, a disaster movie predicated on the idea that hundreds of years ago, the Mayans predicted a carousel of global catastrophes, set to strike on December 21, 2012.
Ordinarily, you'd assume that this was pure Hollywood fantasy, but it's actually the other way around: There's actually a coterie of people that believe in this prophecy. The movie is, if anything, a clever marketing ploy riding the coat tails of an idea popular among the crunchiest of conspiracy theorists.
The idea first bubbled up in pop culture in the 1970s, thanks to a book by Jose Arguelles (who also happened to love LSD). But recently, the idea's caught fire again, thanks to Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. The book marshals everthing from crop circles to quantum theory, in service of the Mayan doomsday prediction. Leaving aside Pinchbeck's brain-dead interpretations, there's just one problem: All that Mayan "history"? It's all nonsense. Infographics designer David McCandless has gathered all the beliefs of 2012 adherents, as well as counter arguments by experts, and produced a definitive chart of all the misapprehensions. A selection:
For more of McCandlesses work, see our slideshow of his new book, The Visual Miscellaneum.
For the full-size 2012 graphic, click here.