I had planned to write a lighthearted blog post today about Giorgio Tsoukalos' recent appearance on FailBlog.org's "Bros" section wearing a t-shirt with his own face on it. But instead, I found this whopper from his Twitter feed explaining why this is not the Mayan apocalyptic year 2012:
How does one even begin to analyze so much (forgive the colloquialism) FAIL? Let's take them one by one.
1. This is not 2011 or 2013 due to a lack of year zero. Since there is no absolute start date for time (like, say 4004 BCE as per Bishop Ussher), years are numbered from wherever the medieval monk Dionysus Exiguus chose to start the numbering when he invented the Anno Domini system in 525 CE, replacing the earlier AUC (Ab Urbe Condita) system used by the Romans, based on the founding of Rome in 753 BCE. He fixed year 1 therefore in 754 AUC. Later scholars began to count backward from 754 AUC/1 CE, so the previous year was 1 before Christ, or 1 BC (now BCE, or Before the Common Era). This is why there never was a year 0, and this whole point is ridiculous. Years are not a math function; their numbering is entirely a social convention. The Romans didn't bother numbering years most of the time and instead described them by the consuls in office that year.
2. Dionysus Exiguus did not actually fix the Year of Our Lord (Anno Domini) but instead began number dates from 532 CE, the date which followed Diocletian 247 (don't ask...) on his table of dates. This implied but did not fix the birth of Christ in 1 CE, but even if this was not the case (and it likely wasn't), it makes no difference to the conventional numbering of years since the numbering is purely conventional. We could start the numbers anywhere (like the French did in the Revolution) and it would not change in any way the length of the solar year or our ability to correlate our calendar with other solar year calendars.
3. The year Christ was crucified has nothing to do with the calendar. He did not father children in France, teach yoga in India, or fly anywhere in a spaceship.
4. "Our" calendar is simply the old Roman calendar renumbered, with minor revisions by Pope Gregory. The renumbering began, as noted, with Dionysus Exiguus in 525 CE but was not popularly used until after 800 CE. Constantine's adoption of Christianity did nothing to change the calendar, which had been in use since Julius Caesar reformed the traditional Roman calendar. If you want to start talking about anomalies, the current Gregorian calendar shaved 10 days off of October 1582 to make up for the mistakes of the Julian calendar. Did Tsoukalos account for that?
5. I have no idea what this point means, but it seems to refer to the weird theories of Anatoly Fomenko and his ilk, who claimed that the Middle Ages were fabricated for occult reasons by inserting fake years into the chronicles.
Tsoukalos' whole point was that if the Common Era actually began in 5 BCE, then we can't correlate it to the Mayan calendar because our years are numbered wrong, showing that he does not understand calendars or math. No matter what number we call 2012 CE, whether we call it 2017 Anno Tsoukalosensis, the Year of the Sasquatch, or QV-XX-693, the current orbit of the earth around the sun will correlate with the current orbit of the earth around the sun in other calendars. What we choose to call it does not affect nature, or accurate measurements of nature.
There is no "clusterfuck" here; only the mind-fuck Tsoukalos is trying to pull on his readers.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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