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"What's inexplicable to him is the ferocity of their conviction."
September 5, 2012 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Dr. David Morrison is the senior scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute in the Ames Research Center in California. For the past eight years he's also run the Ask an Astrobiologist feature on the institute's website. "Started by a civic-minded intern, the column has become the go-to place for concerned citizens to write to NASA and ask if, as they'd heard on the internet, the world will truly end on December 21, 2012. Before he took the helm on Ask an Astrobiologist, Dr. Morrison hadn't heard anything about such theories. Now he can't escape them." Meet NASA's unofficial answerer of apocalypse emails -- at least until December 23rd.

Videos with Dr. Morrison, from NASA Lunar Science on YouTube:

* The Science of Doomsday 2012
* The Truth about Nibiru
* The Truth About Comet Elenin
* At ASP 2012
* The Truth about 2012

He has also created a special section on the "Ask an Astrobiologist" blog for doomsday questions.
posted by zarq (31 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
moon rocks can't jump.
posted by clavdivs at 9:54 AM on September 5, 2012


"My video 'The truth about Nibiru' has generated, oh, more than 6,000 comments," he said. "And a lot of them are really, really disgustingly nasty. They comment on the size of my penis and say I'm an old bag and nobody can believe anyone from NASA. They can tell from the look in my eyes that I'm lying and because I stick my tongue out sometimes, I'm actually an alien, I'm a Reptilian, etcetera, etcetera."

Welcome to the internet, sir, welcome to the internet.

I think we all wonder "why did I start with this," when we are online....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2012


I have some correspondence from Dr. Morrison (who I knew professionally for awhile) from 2009, around when he first started addressing the 2012 subject. He sent me a list of some comments that came in for the site- some were congratulatory (i.e. I hope that people believe NASA and not the media), some were typically conspiracy-oriented (i.e. how dare NASA lie, the zodiac doesn't lie, there is a second star approaching and we're doomed), and some were really sort of tragic, like he mentions in the article (i.e. I'm so scared about this I've stopped eating and am considering killing my dog so she won't suffer). And this was in 2009.

I love- love- making fun of the wingnuts, because com'on, wingnuts!, but the few that came in in that last vein were kind of heartbreaking, and much worse than the ones quoted in the article. Insert your own argument about science education in the United States here.
posted by zap rowsdower at 10:06 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Godspeed to this man in his quixotic quest.
posted by cthuljew at 10:07 AM on September 5, 2012


Nibiru is a battlestar. We flaunt its vibrations at our own risk.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:11 AM on September 5, 2012


at least until December 23rd.

I hear the invasion is going to go off without a hitch.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:14 AM on September 5, 2012


>at least until December 23rd.

I hear the invasion is going to go off without a hitch.


After the 23rd (and the Holiday break), people will begin writing their emails about how the world really did end in 2012 and how 2013 is just an illusion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:17 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


After the 23rd (and the Holiday break), people will begin writing their emails about how the world really did end in 2012 and how everyone was transported to a new planet and the old will be harvested for metaphasic particles.
posted by tilde at 10:23 AM on September 5, 2012


Comment from The Awl article:

"I kinda disbelieve this i think its great we've found a new planet but for it to collide with us wouldnt it have to take on the 5 planets in front of it, were not at the back of the galaxy were 3rd from the sun"

I..can't...what?
posted by thanotopsis at 10:24 AM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


The world is ending???
posted by infini at 10:29 AM on September 5, 2012


The end of the world internet will be when Youtube turns on register comments, all that concentrated bile and hate will explode out into the cosmos.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to laugh at him for not having heard the world is ending in December but then I realized there must be two separate things ending the world then? What's this "nibiru"? I thought we were worried about Mayans. (Even though that threat technically passed sometime in the middle of the year.)
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on September 5, 2012


I propose we make 12/22/12 International Neener Neener Day.
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I propose we make 12/22/12 International Neener Neener Day.

Planetary Intergalactic Neener Neener Neener Day, no?
posted by tilde at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Intergalactic Planetary.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


The strange thing about doomsday cults is that when the Big Day finally comes and the world doesn't end / messiah doesn't return / whatever, it can actually have a bolstering effect on the belief. Human brains really are stupid about some things, but it just is fascinating. Millerites of the world unite!
posted by lazaruslong at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2012


What's this "nibiru"?

Nibiru is a massive threat!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2012


Previously

(turns out I made the same damn comment back then, too. idiot.)
posted by zap rowsdower at 10:50 AM on September 5, 2012


ZetaTalk leads you through the vast amount of information being relayed by the Zetas in answer to questions posed to their emissary, Nancy.

Of course, They are trying to silence Nancy: "In that ZetaTalk has been suppressed mightily by the cover-up crowd, media sources told not to feature Nancy and Coast to Coast told to limit her appearances to only once every few years, they are hoping to steer the attention after the announcement to their hand-picked puppets, those who have cooperated with the cover-up."

But you know the one voice They cannot keep down in regards to Nibiru?

Scooby Doo.

RUT ROH
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:00 AM on September 5, 2012


After the 23rd (and the Holiday break), people will begin writing their emails about how the world really did end in 2012 and how 2013 is just an illusion.


There is a theory which states that the Universe will end on December 22, 2012 and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I like that the ad at the end of that Awl article was for Smart Water.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:22 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seems like a good time to invoke Pascal's wager, and apply it to the cataclysm/reptoids/endoftheword, no?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:24 AM on September 5, 2012


I have a cousin who believes this stuff, to the point that he's started stockpiling water and other provisions.

I have another cousin who claims to believe it, but I think he's just using it as an excuse to stockpile ammo (he's not a tea party type, so he can't use the "Obama taking our guns" excuse).
posted by dirigibleman at 11:27 AM on September 5, 2012


I usually tend to read a conspiracy type site every so often as a distraction. I tend to look at them as a modern day mythology and in that sense they can be entertaining. That said, I've definitely stopped lately because of this phenomenon. There is something about the anticipatory schadenfreude on display by the true believers that really makes me uncomfortable.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:30 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Derail:

There's also the idea that the planet will switch its magnetic poles, which does happen every few hundred thousand years, but all that would mean for us is that our compasses would point south instead of north.

While there is no reason why a pole switch would happen in 2012 (and it would likely take centuries or millennia to complete), the writer is pretty wrong about the implications. The nice dipolar magnetic field generated by the Earth's core acts as a shield against intense charged particle bombardment from the sun and elsewhere. If the Earth's magnetic poles were to switch, we would suffer through centuries of skyrocketing cancer rates and disruptions to electrical and communications infrastructure. There is also the possibility of widespread disruption of species that use magneto-navigation during migrations.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:34 AM on September 5, 2012


But the field would still be there, even if the position of the poles shifted.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:06 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


See, if y'all would just get with the program and join the Jehovah's Witnesses, you wouldn't have to worry about the end of the world, which happened in 1922 and was a bit less grand than predicted.
posted by sonascope at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2012


So Romney will miss his inauguration?
posted by mattoxic at 3:33 PM on September 5, 2012


I knew something smelled fishy. These guys are off by a day off by a day.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:34 PM on September 5, 2012


If Planet X isn't real then how do you explain King Ghidorah? Check and mate, rationals.

(Also, isn't Nibiru a character in one of the Legend of Zelda games?)
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 9:10 AM on September 6, 2012


I know it's easy to poke fun at stuff like this, but I've got a relative who is infected with the Nibiru meme. Despite her high school-only education, no amount of reasoned analysis and discussion will dissuade her from believing bullshit-spouting web sites and YouTube videos. There is clearly some sort of cultural phenomenon at work here that causes people to latch onto this sort of stuff and refuse to give it up.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:09 AM on September 7, 2012


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