Nearly one in seven people worldwide think the world will end this year.

It’s amazing how stubbornly people will cling to a stupid claim long after it’s been debunked. One example is the myth that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21st of this year. It doesn’t predict any such thing, but no matter how many times its debunked there is still a not insignificant number of people who believe it does.

The number is around 15% of the world’s population, or roughly 1 in 7 people, think this year will be the year according to a recent poll:

“Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming,” said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs which conducted the poll for Reuters.

“Perhaps it is because of the media attention coming from one interpretation of the Mayan prophecy that states the world ‘ends’ in our calendar year 2012,” Gottfried said, adding that some Mayan scholars have disputed the interpretation.

Not surprisingly, the younger and less educated you are the more likely you are to believe this nonsense:

Gottfried also said that people with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 years old, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012, or have anxiety over the prospect.

“Perhaps those who are older have lived long enough to not be as concerned with what happens to their future,” she explained.

I think some people just need something to worry about no matter how stupid it is. I can sympathize with that as I used to be like that when I was younger. If I didn’t have anything to worry about I’d worry that it meant something bad was about to befall me. These days I don’t tend to have worries like that. I have entirely different things to worry about, but I try to keep worries to a minimum and at least semi-realistic. I’m definitely not worried about the world ending this year or within my lifetime. I’d like to be pleasantly surprised if it does happen.

More stupidity with the year 2012. (#Blogathon)

I was just talking about this on the live feed and thought it would make a decent blog post. Can we please stop giving attention to the nutcases who are claiming the world is going to end in 2012? The folks at the Salt Lake Tribune just published an article on this nonsense in part, I suspect, because of the impending release of the Roland Emmerich disaster film based on it.

What caught my attention, however, was this comment by associate professor Lynn Clark:

It’s not a religious film per se, but its religious imagery and end-of-days tribulations will resonate, experts say, with audiences—particularly young people—who take their spiritual cues from pop culture.

“Hollywood movies tend to succeed if they don’t underestimate [the sophistication of] their audience,” said Lynn Clark, associate professor of new media at the University of Denver. “There is an urgency for [spiritual discovery] that is part of the undercurrent of young people’s lives these days.”

Youth may not be avidly reading their Bibles and attending church in large numbers, but Clark said they do look to the entertainment industry to initiate religious discussions.

Really young people? Are you really taking your “spiritual cues” from pop culture? It would explain a lot. And can Hollywood ever really underestimate the sophistication of their audience? When stuff like Paul Blart: Mall Cop not only being made, but doing semi-respectable business at the box office I’d have to say that you could never underestimate the sophistication (or lack of it) of the audience.

And if you’re going to look to the entertainment industry to initiate religious discussions surely there are much better movies out there to do that with than 2012. Granted I can’t think of any off top of my head at the moment, but surely there’s something out there.