Fact Checking the End of the World

Friday, September 21, 2012


Credit: Smiley Man with a Hat /Flickr

Citing the Mayan calendar, many people believe that the world will end on December 21, 2012. Some of those people email NASA scientist David Morrison who, unlike most scientists, takes their concerns seriously enough to explain that there is no science to back up the 2012 prophecy. Brooke speaks to Morrison about the possibility of dissuading people from believing the end of the world is near.

Two Steps From Hell - Master of Shadows


Dr. David Morrison

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [12]

rick from usa

hello well were still here hmmmmmmmmm....crazy no zombies . no sunamis no solar flares . i guess people all over the wold are just crazy

Dec. 21 2012 01:06 PM

This at al a stupid one.leave this matter .the end or the beginning is from ur pure heart.let start ur work.we can see wat is gng to hapen.in 2000 itseif there was an rumour tat world is gng to end.but not yet hapend.we should think why god created humanity? it s to destroy?hope up on god.

Dec. 20 2012 05:41 AM
Arshad from pakistan

hi im Arshad . sir i can:t understandet this message in the world finshed. islamic studey in unlimeted reserich. for End the world. But it is change the system or weather golobel atmospher etc. The read in Holly Quran Sharif .Islamic book .ok thanks.

Dec. 17 2012 11:47 AM
radhika from mumbai

can i get d intresting facts on END OF THE WORLD

Nov. 07 2012 11:05 PM
Casey from Denver

“You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission, which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But i tell you Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else. not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes, only in the mind of the party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the party holds to be truth is truth. it is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn Winston. It is an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.”


Sep. 28 2012 01:58 PM
Joe Madey from Little Rock, AR

NPR – On the Media

Regarding your Segment last Sunday regarding the Mayan 2012 Apocalypse, I think you missed a Big Point. Though there are several internet references regarding the Apocalypse – Armageddon – end of the world subjects; the reason they remain in the public consciousness is the seemingly endless number of Cable Channel shows dealing with this very subject. The History Channel, Science Channel, and National Geographic Channel had scores of shows covering this very subject (Apocalypse PA, the Biblical Code predicting Armageddon, the Nostradamus effect of Armageddon from the History channel); Had to stop counting the shows on the National Geographic channel and the Science Channel (40 and 92 references, respectively). Even when The Learning channel is not waiting for ‘ Here comes Honey Boo Boo‘ they had a show called ‘ 5 Foods that will Survive the Apocalypse.’

This brings forth another phenomenon I wish someone will take up; the tie-in of Movies and TV mini- series to historical documentaries. The Hatfield’s and McCoys, Valkyrie (the plot to kill Hitler), Braveheart (William Wallace), and Titanic have spawned several documentaries on the very same subject. Is there a purposeful effort to entice the public to go to the movies or buy the video of these historical fictions by showing the historical side of the story? These shows are entertaining but Are people being manipulated?

Love your show,

J. Leonard Madey
Little Rock, AR

Sep. 25 2012 04:31 PM
Elaine from NJ/NY

Who are these people who are deliberately creating falsehoods and inciting fear and why are they doing it? The act of someone splicing Dr. Morrison's NASA introduction onto a non-NASA production reveals the deliberate intention to disseminate false information by pretense of an authentication which would not have been believed necessary if there was an innocent belief in the truth of what was being pitched. We need to be asking questions and the journalistic who, what, where, why and when as the internet part of the story only partially answers the how. Is it bunch of unrelated kooks who take delight in terrorizing children, feeling powerful and disdaining science? Are they just having fun? Or are there more serious issues inasmuch as creation of fear is at the root of terrorism? Should security folks be looking at this to inquire whether something heavy-duty is going on? How can so many people totally reject scientific truths and have absolute belief in non-facts that have been fed to them? Why was there any negativity shown in these comments to the fact of a scientist working to defeat lies? There is more than one big story here and I applaud both Dr. Morrison's dedication to trying to undermine this nasty business and On The Media for letting us know about this serious situation. Thank you.

Sep. 24 2012 01:21 PM
Bill Hudson


As the administrator for 2012hoax.org, I can confirm some of the statements made by Dr. Morrison, if you're inclined.

I have personally had 11-year olds ask me about this during astronomy presentations. I have questions and statements from people purporting to be siblings or parents or teachers of such children. We have one documented suicide, and a few documented suicide attempts.

Sep. 24 2012 12:29 AM
Tom Meyer

This story actually is a component of a larger and enlightening program about the value, veracity and effectiveness of "fact checking".

Sep. 23 2012 03:57 PM
Brian Zack from Princeton, NJ

Dr. Morrison sounds as obsessed as those he describes. Did you happen to fact check his claims that "thousands" of web sites are predicting the end of the world? And that there are 11-year-olds contemplating suicide because of this, who are looking to him for, well, salvation?? If you did, you certainly didn't let your listeners know. If you didn't, well.....??

Sep. 23 2012 12:01 PM
Steve MacIntyre from Beaver Dam, AZ

Gee, I just watched the movie. Melancholia. Are you telling us that it's wrong?

Sep. 22 2012 04:55 PM

There was a moment in this story where Brooke equated the scientific refutation of Mayan-apocalypse predictions with political "fact check" operations.


Weekly, if not daily, the operations we know as Politifact.com, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post 'Fact Checker' are being exposed. Not for howling errors (although there have been plenty of those) but because in the end they are routinely exposed as no more scientifically factual than the work of other daily political columnists.

You could have done a story about that. You should have done a story about that. You should have gotten what would have been, for NPR, a much-needed breath of fresh air in the dubious business of "fact check" journalism. There must be a dozen first-rate conservative media watchers (and maybe some liberal ones too) who have written in detail on this subject and who would have schooled you and your audience on the subject.

Your recent story on that subject, with John Sununu as your target/straw man/fall guy/schlmazel was profoundly flawed on that dimension.

This just continues the basic OTM perspective error.

Sep. 22 2012 10:37 AM

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