DOWNLOAD: "Much Ado about Nothing: 2012 and the Maya" [MP3]

After the apocalyptic letdown that was Y2K, we should know better than to fall for yet another Nostradamus-esque doomsday rumor. However, the hype surrounding the most recent End of Days prediction, based upon the unsettling predictions of an ancient Mayan calendar and slated for the year 2012, has everyone feeling a little uneasy. The impending end of the world as we know it has certainly captured the attention of Hollywood. Though, if the recently released Cusack vehicle 2012 is any indication, the whole shebang is a going to be a bit of a yawn (well, at least until they get to the despair and cannibalism part The Road forecasts, anyway).

But is there any real merit to the prophecy? According to Marc Zender, a research associate in Maya hieroglyphic writing at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard, the answer is no. As he told Phoenix scribe Mike Miliard back in March for "Epochalypse Soon," the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar will turn over in A.D. 2012 "like an odometer clicks over in a car," only to "restart and circulate around again." No pillars of fire. No mass suicides. Just an ancient calendar resetting to zero.

In a recent lecture at the Peabody Museum, Zender -- who's previously weighed in on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- further attempted to suss out the truth amidst the all the 2012 hysteria. A man who clearly knows his ancient Mayans, Zender uses Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing (and its fondness for double entendre) as an unlikely platform to systematically pick apart the 2012 hype and teach us a lesson about counting your apocalyptic Horsemen before they've, um, galloped. Key points:
-There are "over a dozen" Mayan calendars of interlocking cycles, and none of them end at 2012 ("unless we define 'end' to mean 'doesn't really end,' in which case, sure").
-Ancient Aztec prophecy foretells of an army of "bloodthirsty star demons," who'll descend upon the earth to gorge upon human flesh following a series of cataclysmic earthquakes -- but there's no indication that this event is in any way tied to 2012.
-2012 hysteria -- and the way that it's been "hijacked" by New Age cults -- makes a great example of a cultural meme, as envisioned by Richard Dawkins.
Bogglingly enough, in this lecture, Zender also manages to namedrop TV's theater-geek dramedy Glee. Want to know how this all ties together? Get clicking. 

And if that doesn't slake your thirst for 2012 debunkery, check out this interview between Zender and E.J. Albright, of the blog American Egypt.

DOWNLOAD: Marc Zender interviewed by American Egypt's E.J. Albright [MP3 link]
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