Why We're Obsessed with the Apocalypse

According to Reuters, one in four Americans believe the world will end within their lifetime. Is it because our lives are so insignificant that we want to write ourselves into the world's finale? 

What's the Latest Development?


Fears that the world will end on December 21 originate in the belief that the "long-count" version of the Mayan calendar comes to a dead halt later this month. Whether it does or doesn't, even NASA has weighed in with its publication Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End, to say, based on its more scientific observations, that the world will not be ending any time soon. Since the 1990s, doomsday predictors have issued more than six specific dates on which the world was to end. The trend dates back to at least the time of Isaac Newton, who warned against "fanciful men who are frequently predicting the end of time."

What's the Big Idea?

This year, a Reuters poll found that one in four Americans believe the world will end within their lifetime. Globally, the figure is one in seven people. Why is it that each generation believes the world will end before its eyes? "Earth having existed for billions of years, probably existing for millions if not billions more, and our own life in comparisonhowever long and fruitfulbeing an almost infinitesimally insignificant instant in the middle of it all. So fleeting and so far from either end of the story that many of us behave like individual black holes, mentally warping time to write ourselves into the grand finale."

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