Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Probably a lie that the end is nigh

Mayan predictions aside, the good-ol' Internet has exaggerated end-of-world rumours

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Only five more shopping days until Christmas?

Think again.

According to the Mayan calendar, the world ends Friday, leaving today to wrap up all your yuletide gift-buying.

Hey, big business -- where are the doomsday specials? Everything must go, you know. All sales are final, right?

(Note to boss -- we need a "There will be no paper on Saturday promo" for the front page.)

Fears of the final Friday can be blamed on the Mayans, whose civilization included parts of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala from 1000 BC to 1500 AD Some people believe they carved into their calendar the day the world would end -- and time is up.

Experts don't buy the Armageddon scenario, but a few people on the fringe apparently believe TGIF stands for That's Goodbye, It's Friday.

Scott Young, the Manitoba Museum's science communications manager, said he received a phone call in July on behalf of a Winnipeg woman who believed the Mayan calendar was right.

"She was basically going to make all sorts of life-altering decisions because the world was going to end because the Mayans told her so," said Young. He suggested to the caller that, likely, the end is not nigh.

Young said the Mayan prediction has been inflated by the Internet, and the mystery of an ancient culture gives the prediction authenticity with a tiny minority of people.

"So, basically, if you predict the world is going to end, people think you're an idiot.

"If you say that ancient peoples predicted the world is going to end, you're a genius... people gullible enough to think the world is going to end are also gullible enough to buy lots of books about it."

The Manitoba Museum's planetarium will host a show called Ancient Skies, Ancient Mysteries, which features content about the Mayan calendar. The shows are at 2:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Friday and, if the Mayan calendar is wrong and the world continues, the planetarium show will go on until Jan. 6.

Tanya Parks has an experienced eye on the future, and she doesn't foresee a dead end on Friday. She's the owner of Distant Caravans at The Forks, a boutique that performs tarot card and crystal ball readings. And, while she doesn't believe the world will collapse Friday, she said she thinks it will open a "new era."

"I think that it's going to be a little bit more of an artistic era, a creative era and also an era that's very in tune with our environment and our global sense of well-being," said Parks.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 A8

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