Looming end of world keeps Southwestern College prof hopping
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An expert on Mayan culture and prophecy at
Southwestern College said Monday he has been “as busy as a frog on a griddle”
as the day of the supposed end of the world draws near.
Mark Van Stone, a professor and art historian in the School of Arts &
Communication, told City News Service that he received three interview requests
a day last week from around the country and recently completed a college
speaking tour on the East Coast that included Princeton and Johns Hopkins
He's also been a popular guest at Mayan, anthropology and astronomy
Van Stone is scheduled to make his second speaking appearance in a week
at 6 tonight at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park, partially to
debunk theories that the world is scheduled to end on Dec. 21.
“The best thing about this 2012 nonsense is it creates interest in the
Mayan people,” Van Stone said. “People can go down there and see what the
Maya are really like.”
He said the real Maya are much more interesting than “prophets of doom.”
A misinterpretation of ancient Mayan text by German scientists years ago
led to the idea of a calendar that expires this month, signaling some kind of
apocalypse, according to the professor.
Writings in the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, in the southern
Mexican state of Chiapas, showed the Mayans believed their king would still be
celebrated in 4772 AD, well after the year 2012, he said.
He said the 5,125-year Mayan calendar cycle, also called a Bak'tun
cycle, “goes around and around” but doesn't appear to end.
Still, the myth is propagated on television shows and books, leading to
12 percent of Americans and 20 percent of the Chinese population believing the
world will end on Dec. 21, according to a poll conducted this spring by Ipsos
Global Public Affairs.
“Americans have always had a history of crazy prophecies but we're
behind China on this one,” Van Stone said.
For those who cling to the notion, Van Stone says that the actual date
of the end of the world could be Dec. 23 or 24, depending on competing
interpretations of the correlation between modern and ancient Mayan calendars.
He has authored a book, “2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient
Maya,” available at markvanstone.com.