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Doomsday Clock To Begin Countdown, Time after time, doomsayers have predicted the breakdown of society on a date certain, stirring up a buzz that builds to a crescendo and ends in a crash when doomsday doesn’t come. 1844 brought the Great Disappointment, 1999 brought the Y2K alarm, 2011 brought the Rapture ruckus, and exactly a year from today, we’re due for the Maya apocalypse.If the past is any indicator, we’ll be intently blogging, tweeting and indulging in black humor as the clock ticks down to Dec. 21, 2012. Then, on Dec. 22, we’ll look around for the next doomsday.

It’s just human nature, says Oregon State University sociologist Richard Mitchell, author of a book about survivalist trends titled “Dancing at Armageddon.” Telling stories and trading tips for making it through the catastrophe that’s ahead of us are pursuits that go back to ancient times.

“The attraction of all of these ‘final crisis’ tales is in the re-narration, the puzzling out of the details, the putting of fragmented facts into a coherent narrative,” Mitchell said.

There are plenty of fragmented facts to choose from for 2012′s “end of the world” narrative, including the Maya Long Count calendar, which supposedly winds down to the end of a 5,126-year-long cycle next Dec. 21. Today the city of Tapachula in southern Mexico is turning on a digital clock for the yearlong countdown, and Mayan priests are performing a ceremony at a nearby archaeological site.

advertisementThey’re dramatizing the doomsday date largely to drum up tourism. “If people are interested, we have to take advantage of this,” Manolo Alfonso Pino, the regional tourism director for Mexico’s Chiapas state, told The Associated Press.

Other angles include the recent string of natural disasters and extreme weather events, the upswing in solar activity, and even the ramp-up of the Large Hadron Collider. The narrative gets embellished with additional twists from seemingly ancient lore, such as the feared approach of a mysterious unseen planet, or a prediction that “30 hours of blindness” will beset us.
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