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Episode 14: Interview on the Mayan Calendar and What the Mayans Think of 2012

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Recap: Join me in an interview with Dr. Johan Normark, a Mayan scholar, to learn about the Mayan calendar, its relationship with 2012, and what the Mayans "actually said" about 2012.

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The format of this interview was: (1) Johan's background and interest in 2012, (2) about the Mayan calendar, (3) how their calendar may or may not line up with ours, (4) who some of the big players are or big claims related to 2012 from his perspective, (5) his least favorite "popular" claims related to the Maya or archaeology in general, (6) evidence, and (7) what the Maya actually "said" about 2012.

To summarize the interview, there are three Mayan calendars, and it's the Long Count that's the issue with 2012. One problem is that we don't know if it actually ticks over to anything important in 2012 because there is at least a ±52 year uncertainty in the often-used GMT correlation with our current calendar. For most Mayan scholars, this is NOT an issue because they're usually more interested in relative dates (like 100-year spacings versus this happened in 21 BC). Another problem is that the Long Count (a) doesn't "reset" nor (b) "end" at the "end" (let's say it's 2012), it just continues. As opposed to the other two calendars (Tzolken and Haab) which do cycle like our months/weeks, the Long Count is just that - a count of days. It reaches effectively another higher-up digit (like going to 100,000s after the 10,000s) in 2012, and there are Mayan inscriptions that go well past this apparent "end" so we know that they didn't "say" anything bad was going to happen.

The rest of the interview was more a discussion of what some particular people think, but I'll be getting into many of these in much more detail as the next 13 months progress. What I found interesting was that these folks basically take as gospel the calendar correlation that says it ends in 2012, even though it likely doesn't tick over and definitely doesn't end. Kinda like how the doomsday people took to heart the NASA prediction in 2005 that the next solar max would be in 2012 (ack! doomsday!) but NASA revised it as far back as 2008 to say it's more likely to reach the peak in 2013 or 2014 ... but the 2012 doomsday people just ignore that.

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