China, for example, is rounding up members of a doomsday cult to prevent a breakout of mass hysteria. Serbian and French villagers claim they will be spared the worst of the apocalypse thanks to mystical mountains that guard their respective abodes. And even here in the US, schools have been shut down in Michigan due to "rumors" of a looming End of Days.
But perhaps the talk of fire and brimstone might ease up a bit now that scientists are getting some strong support from an unlikely source: The Maya people themselves.
"There's the legend and there's the reality," said Yolanda Cornelio, a tourism official from the city of Mérida where 60% of the people are of Mayan ethnicity. "Some people take the legend and abuse it, using it to make money. There's a lot of con artists."
What is perhaps most unfortunate is that in all the talk of a doomsday that is highly unlikely to materialize, an historic occasion is being ignored: The start of a new cycle in the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar.
[photo via AP]