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.
According to Reuters, many of the seven million ethnic Maya still alive and well in modern times are "rolling their eyes" at talk of a Maya-predicted Armageddon.
"It's a psychosis, a fad," says Vera Rodriguez, a psychologist of Maya descent who lives in Mexico. "I think it's bad for our society and our culture."
Most of the Maya recognize the alleged prophecy for what it is: Just another way to exploit their cultural heritage for money.
"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.
"It's an era," Santos Esteban of Yaxuna told CNN. "We are lucky to see how it ends."
[photo via AP]