Thursday, December 25, 2014

Corrections Dept: The World Will Not Not end Dec 12 - Not.

We said the world will not end Dec. 12. We meant the world will not end Dec. 21. How do we fix it?

Corrections Dept: The World Will Not Not end Dec 12 - Not.

I’ve been tasked with coming up with a correction for a mistake (not mine) made in the sub-headline for my story on the Maya. In that story, I debunked the myth of the so-called Mayan prophecy that the world would end December 21st.  

The sub head said “The world likely won't end December 12” when I think the copy editor meant to say December 21 – the date certain fringe elements have been pushing as the next doomsday.

We definitely can’t go with the standard correction format, which would lead to this: “A headline in yesterday’s story on the Maya incorrectly stated the world likely will not end December 12.”  That might cause some needless alarm.

How about this: “The Inquirer incorrectly listed December 12th as the day the world would not end. The world will not end on December 21.”

That’s not quite right either. How about something more specific: “The Inquirer yesterday incorrectly listed December 12 as the day the Maya did not predict that the world would end. The Maya did not predict that the world would end on December 21.”  I don’t think that works either and it's an oversimplification, since the archaeologists say the date for the Mayan calender event that will not end the world is probably closer to the 23d, but the new-agers like the 21st because it's the winter solstice, which adds cosmic drama to the end of the world that wasn't really predicted by the Maya and probably won't happen.

About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at fflam@phillynews.com. Reach Planet of the at fflam@phillynews.com.

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