Despite its cool name, it doesn’t exist.
Not that that stops true believers in such fantasies from believing, just as true believers believe in a lot of bogus things without evidence, like the existence of invisible super beings.
I was unaware of this imagined planet until the other day, when I read an article about it. It deserves some discussion in a nonreligious context.
So-named Nibiru is supposedly, as its aficionados contend, a mysterious doomsday planet that, we are told, orbits the sun once every “3,600 Earth years.”
“The story goes that Nibiru will someday crash into our home world or, failing that, get close enough to trigger a mass outbreak of natural disasters that’ll end human civilization as we know it,” asserts an article in How Stuff Works, a science website, “The Truth Behind the Rogue Planet Nibiru.”
Except, as for every End Times event precisely prophesied in holy books, it will never happen. Unless some other random, rogue heavenly body slams into our lovely blue planet one apocalyptic day in a more or less inevitable natural event.
In the 21st century, of course, science allows us to predict many such natural events, like climate change and errant asteroids hurtling toward Earth that might possible destroy us. But the point is, the ancients had no knowledge to predict such things, and a claim of divine intuition is just silly.
So what we have with the real-sounding Nibiru is something decidedly unreal.
“Don’t worry; Nibiru is pure fiction,” How Stuff Works assures us. “If it was real, there’d be traces of its gravitational influence all over the solar system. No such clues exist. Besides, any planet with Nibiru’s alleged orbit likely would’ve kissed our sun goodbye ages ago, leaving mankind in peace.”
Nibiru became a thing in 1976 with the publication of a book titled “The 12th Planet” by Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin, a journalist and student of ancient clay-tablet etchings in Persia and Mesopotamia, somehow believed mankind (at least partly) sprang from some worldly connection with this imagined planet.
“According to his (questionable) interpretations of ancient Mesopotamian texts and inscriptions, the first humans were bio-engineered by some aliens called the Annunaki, who once colonized southeastern Africa,” according to How Stuff Works.
Well, of course! I mean, everyone knows humanity began in Africa, right? It so fits.
This strikes me as a literary invention similar to that which gave us The Da Vinci Code, a novel that posits Jesus married Mary Magdelene; the fictional The Turner Diaries, which excited American violent white supremacists and gave us the horrific 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 169 people, including 19 children, and wounded 500; an the virulently anti-semitic novel-presented-as-true, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which also excited Christian Right racists and has been used to justify a slew of murders.
To summarize the plots of the latter two titles:
- The Turner Diaries “depicts a violent revolution in the U.S. that leads to the overthrow of the federal government, a nuclear conflagration and, in the end, a race war that leads to the systematic genocide of non-whites,” the Village Voice wrote in a review.
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is “a fabricated antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.
Even though the Nibiru hoax (an actual one, not the true things President Trump complains about) has no human villains, the cataclysm it purports is far more devastating to the planet and humanity.
Sitchen’s Nibiru fantasy sold millions of copies but, unsurprisingly, did not convince scientists. Still, starting in the 1990s, a bunch of Nibiru doomsday theories reportedly started swirling about in the meme-o-sphere. One predicted a 2003 collision with Earth. Didn’t happen, as with all doomsday predictions, which didn’t slow the production of new theories and deadlines. One that glommed onto the so-called Mayan Long Calendar, envisioned the last day in 2012, and another in 2017 had Christian fundamentalists insisting a heavenly object was earthbound for destruction.
People seem to love these fantasies, even if they never turn out to be true or even remotely probable. Much like supernatural religion itself. In fact, I believe there is some neural connection, some hard-wiring in our DNA that leads us down these spider holes.
“The jury is in: Nibiru’s just a hoax,” concludes How Stuff Works, after providing many paragraphs of clear, objective, irrefutable information to back that up.
It’s a shame anyone has to waste such energy and expertise explaining that fantasies are simply made up, just because people are so astonishingly gullible.
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“Erudite yet readable … very illuminating”
— Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” in praise of “Holy Smoke”
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