Fri
Dec 21 2012 5:00pm

Don’t Worry Mayans, This Happens to a Lot of Doomsayers

Don't Worry Mayans, This Happens to a Lot of Doomsayers

Take heed, Tor.com readers, the world is ending!

And has already ended, and will end at some point in the future. In fact, if the human race is really bad at anything besides skeeball, it is predicting when the world will end. To make that abundantly clear, Loren Madsen has assembled Pick a Year, a table of years that collects all of the various cries of doom that have piled up over the centuries.

The range covers thousands of years, past, present, and future, and while religious prophecy and cultural mythology make up a significant portion of it—at least one religious figurehead alive today was convinced the world would end in 1952—scientific predictions are also included. A particular rib-tickler is the entry for 2026, when the world’s population was predicted to reach INFINITY by a poorly-written article in a 1960s science periodical.

Click a year to see how the world was supposed to end. The language is cheeky and 2035 is NSFW, but it’s a pretty enjoyable romp through a flurry of averted apocalypses. (How does one pluralize apocalypse? Didn’t Buffy settle this a while back?) The predictions read as a fairly transparent rundown of societal anxieties and fads throughout the centuries. Nuclear destruction crops up after World War 2, new age prophecies begin to appear in the 1960s, and 2000 is chock-a-block with predictions.

If anything, we hope it strikes a note of optimism within you. After all, if the world is always ending, then it’s never really ending, is it?


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and often random voice of Tor.com. It would like you to disregard this message if the world has ended, please.

10 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
To be fair, it wasn't the Mayans predicting the end of the world--just some modern bad translations.
Juan Avila
2. Cumadrin
I like how the entire world is celebrating when the 21st isn't even over yet.
Gardner Dozois
3. Gardner Dozois
The Mayans already HAD their Apocalypse, hundreds of years ago.
Gardner Dozois
4. Kudzu
That picture is hilarious!!
Gardner Dozois
5. Sivi
Yeah, could you guys maybe stop perpetuating this weird idea that Mayans are the ones predicting an apocalypse? There's 7+ million of them speaking 30+ languages, and they've all got shit planned for January.
Eliza-Rose Lartey
8. lerenardvert
@1 I agree; they found another segment that dates 7,000 into the future. Although, I do believe that natural disasters will become more frequent thus killing some (but not all) of us.
Alan Brown
9. AlanBrown
The world ends every night, and every morning we have a chance to shape the new world with our actions.

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