I heard a story yesterday that made me chuckle, but also left me feeling a little unsettled. A friend's colleague quit work without warning a couple of weeks ago, effectively vanishing before he'd even explained why he was leaving. This sort of event can be pretty worrying for co-workers, particularly during a recession (was he laid off? does he know something we don't know?). So it must have been something of a relief for his colleagues when they saw an email from him appear in their work inboxes. It turns out that he does know something that the rest of us don't.
In his communication, he announced that he was in Brazil and that the reason he'd gone there was simple: next year there will be an apocalyptic event and he wanted to find some high ground (literally) from which to sit it out. He seems to be referring to the impending impact of the comet Sedna which a handful of Bible-code 'scholars' and other eschatologists believe will take place some time between 2010 and 2012. Claiming correlation with the '3rd prophecy of Fatima', the gibberish of Nostradamus and Mayan astrology (among other, even less reliable sources), the doom-sayers foresee a great cataclysm after the comet strikes the Atlantic ocean.
I've always been fascinated by theories that claim to know not only the cause but the date of a forthcoming apocalypse. These people are even more self-assured by holding 'secret' knowledge than traditional conspiracy theorists – indeed, many modern eschatologists are conspiracy theorists who have encountered apocalyptic prophecy presumably because it tells of an even bigger conspiracy, a cosmic one.
The trouble is, it's hard to know who to trust. There are reports of comet strike in 2010, geomagnetic storms in 2011, and the famous Mayan doomsday 'predicted' for December 22nd 2012, to name but a few. And what happens when these events fail to occur (as I'm certain will happen)? Then the eschatologists will 'reinterpret' their texts and come up with another date.
I suppose that in the end, I'd rather not be in the same office as someone who seriously believes that they have secret knowledge relating to the end of the world. They're probably best off sitting on a mountain in Brazil, waiting for the rapture that will never come.
Here's a representative apocalyptic website, picked at random. Note the numerous factual discrepancies when trying to link cosmic events with Earth events (something you'll also see on conspiracy theory websites).