A blog about (ir)religion, ritual and so on …

Archive for the category “Eschatology”

Doomsday Predictions and the Bizarro Orient

I have to admit something. Eschatology has never interested me. It’s always seemed a bit like paying for live music and being so preoccupied with imagining the encore that you miss the entire show. And what if the encore never comes? You get the picture.  So why now? Well, you see Reuters recently commissioned a “worldwide” poll to determine how widespread beliefs are about the impending Armageddon. Of course the notion of a “worldwide” poll is a bit silly, but we shouldn’t let that spoil our fun. The biggest news item from the poll was that a whopping 1 in 7 people think the end is near. Furthermore 1 in 10 people think that the “Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012.” That 1 in 10 people, the world over, have even heard of the Mayan calendar is pretty astonishing if you ask me. Hmmm.

According to the poll not only do 1 in 10 people worldwide agree with the Mayan calendar but 20% of the Chinese population does! Who polled them, Mike Daisey? Add 13% of Turks, Russians, Koreans, and Japanese people to the list and you have to admit it’s a bit mindblowing. Here I thought this was a distinctly Euro-American obsession, you know part of the wider panoply of New Age beliefs. I know that we borrow spiritual ideas from the East with frequency, but surely mainstream Chinese people are not in some strange twist of events becoming New Agers all of a sudden? Of course a couple of years ago the idea that Chinese elites would be champing at the bit to own a Buick would have sounded equally far fetched to me. Fair enough, but 20% of the Chinese population are into New Age reinterpretations of traditional Mayan beliefs? I don’t buy it for a second. But the Huffington Post sure does.

So this is where we get to the part that interests me. Why? Why are Reuters and the Huffington Post so eager to believe this clearly flawed poll with god knows what kind of margin of error (if one would even call it that)? Is it this enticing to think that people across the globe share the exact same projection of anxiety over what has been happening in the last few years? Or is there something else going on? I’m honestly curious, so tell me already.

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