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Relax, the end isn't nigh

Nasa condemns fear-mongering website used to market new film

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

The sci-fi film 2012 stars John Cusack


The sci-fi film 2012 stars John Cusack

For the past 30 years, business leaders, former government officials and scientists have been secretly working on a plan to save humanity from destruction when the Earth collides with another planet on 21 December 2012.

They have set up a covert Institute for Human Continuity which has now agreed to go public and warn the world that there is a 94 per cent probability of "cataclysmic forces" destroying our planet in three years' time.

Its website offers survival kits and encourages people to sign up for a lottery to decide who will be among the lucky few chosen to be saved.

You are probably thinking that this is an elaborate hoax – you would be right. But hundreds of people have apparently been taken in by the nonsense put out by Sony Pictures as part of a "viral marketing" campaign for its film 2012, set for release next month.

Nasa is taking the issue so seriously that an astronomer at the agency has spoken out to condemn the use of the hoax website, which claims the world is going to end in 2012.

David Morrison said he had received more than 1,000 enquiries from members of the public who were concerned that Nasa scientists were involved in a conspiracy to deny that they were tracking the movements of Nibiru, a hitherto undiscovered planet on a collision course with Earth.

Dr Morrison, a distinguished scientist at Nasa's Astrobiology Institute, said that the marketing behind the film, distributed by Columbia Pictures, was making some people so scared that he feared they could harm themselves.

"They've created a completely fake scientific website. It looks very slick. It talks about this organisation having existed for 30 years and it consists of international scientists and business people and government officials having concluded that there is a 94 per cent chance of the Earth being destroyed in 2012 – and it's all made up, it's pure fiction. But obviously some people are treating it seriously," Dr Morrison told The Independent.

"I've even had cases of teenagers writing to me saying they are contemplating suicide because they don't want to see the world end. I think when you lie on the internet and scare children in order to make a buck, that is ethically wrong," he said.

There is nothing on the website to indicate it is a hoax. It states that scientists are tracking a "planet X" on the fringes of the Solar System and mixes real scientific phenomena with complete fiction, such as a simulation of planet X's near-Earth trajectory.

The website urges people to sign up to a lottery guaranteeing every person of the planet an equal chance of survival in 2012 with the offer of a place in one of the Institute for Human Continuity's "safe havens". Only a small Sony Pictures copyright notice at the bottom of the screen and a link to the film's own website give any hint that this is a purely fictional website.

Dr Morrison said the idea of a mystery planet called Nibiru dates back 30 years to fictional books about supposed predictions of ancient Summerian astrologers. It was taken up by others linking a 2012 planetary collision with the end of the Mayan calender. Interest in the idea has resurfaced in the lead-up to the film's release, Dr Morrison said. "It is too bad, but there is no law against lying on the internet or anywhere else except in a court of law."

Vikki Luya, Sony's publicity director, said: "It is very clear that this site is connected to a fictional movie. This can readily be seen in the logos on the site, including the Sony Pictures Digital copyright line and the reference to the '2012 Movie Experience'. It is also evident in the user-generated videos, as well as the numerous online references to this marketing campaign."

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Nice distraction from reality
[info]someofusknow wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 01:44 am (UTC)
Nice distraction from reality.

In the real world:

Financial collapse and the shrinking oil supply (peak oil) will hit before Dec 2012, cauaing far greater turmoil than anything we've seen thus far.

Widespread famine, due to collapse of industrial agriculture and environmental degradation, will almost certainly hit before Dec 2012., i.e. 3 billion starving instead of the current 1 billion starving.

The good news is the Earth probably won't become uninhabitable for humans (due to runaway global warming from fossil fuel use) till 2030 or perhaps even mid-century if our children and grandchildren are really lucky.

Keep buying the gas-guxzzlers, keep taking the overseas holidays, keep consuming everything in sight (as per government policy) and it may be possible to bring forwards the deadlines.

Re: Nice distraction from reality
[info]georgesign wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 07:08 am (UTC)
Wow! You mean to say we have until 2030 until the "End of the World". Good advice though. I must get out there and join all the "Save the Planet" stars like Prince Charles, Sting and Al Gore. Now all I need is the money to buy several houses around the World, buy a fleet of chauffeur driven cars and travel by private jet and I can really be up there with the Big Boys saving the planet.
We already knew
[info]bebofpenge wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 05:55 am (UTC)
Why create a bogus site to tell us something which most people already know. If you want to know the real truth watch:
[info]georgesign wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 07:01 am (UTC)
Don't panic! Don't panic! Where is Corporal Jones these days? NASA has put out a spoof Sony site on the internet to cover up the real story. The new film has secret messages for the people "in the know" to be saved. Send your money to my name care of the Independent and I will make sure you know the right code words used in the movie so that you to can be saved.
[info]yosemitejoe wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 09:28 am (UTC)
Absolutely. I have heard from ANONYMOUS WELL-CONNECTED SOURCES that Bruce Willis is on a retainer with NASA to launch in a hurry in the Orion/Ares vehicle which is currently being FRANTICALLY COMPLETED IN AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION for some hush-hush work in which Exxon is somehow involved. I have also heard the IRANIANS are trying to open a TRANSDIMENSIONAL portal to let K-THULU or some other weakly godlike entity through. They are only a COUPLE OF MONTHS away from a BREAKTHROUGH. At least that what CHARLES KRAUTHUMMER from the the WASHINGTON POST is saying. Look it up. With some luck, the Israelis will attack first.

OTOH, a film by Emmerich? I won't part with my money for THAT.

[info]smokyfrog wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 07:25 am (UTC)
I think if children are so susceptible to fear then our education system has failed utterly. Whatever happened to teaching kids how to discover things for themselves, to ask questions, scientific method and all that?
OK, I think we all know the answer...
Orson Wells Revisited
[info]mh656 wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 08:02 am (UTC)
Shades of Orson Wells and the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. Then add a large dollop of When Worlds collide, (how original).

Eighty years on, new technology, and this is all they could come up with?
What's Good for the Goose, is Great for the Gander
[info]amanfrommars wrote:
Saturday, 17 October 2009 at 03:19 pm (UTC)
"I think when you lie on the internet and scare children in order to make a buck, that is ethically wrong," he said."

That's Rich considering Lives in the Status Quo Capitalist System are Ruled by Spin Bankrupt of Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth ........ but IT does make a Few Bankers Filthy Rich and Personally Liable for All Financial Follies, with the Currency Taps and Traps that they would Think to Control for Power Generation.
[info]santinox wrote:
Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 06:58 am (UTC)
I just visited the site. You must be joking, it even says Sony Pictures at the top and also for those truly stupid individuals; In theatres November 13. Just goes to show you what the risk is when gullible and in-bred people have access to technology. Keep the internet out of schools I say and also out of the north
I sense a double-bluff
[info]diondeville wrote:
Monday, 19 October 2009 at 12:57 am (UTC)
Is Dr Morrison safe guarding a place in the lottery by reducing the number of takers?

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