Belief

Fake Planet's Apocalyptic Prediction Gains Internet Cachet on YouTube

An amateur astronomer claims earth is threatened by an invented planet, diverting public attention from more important matters.

Photo Credit: Justin Starr Photography / Shutterstock

On Saturday, September 23, the Sun, Moon and Jupiter will conjoin in the constellation of Virgo. Though this celestial event is no news to astrologers or astronomers, David Mead, an amateur stargazer and evangelist, is gaining internet cache by using numerology and the bible to ‘predict’ the world’s demise in another several days.

With much of the planet in crisis, it’s no wonder Mead’s argument is garnering attention from conspiracy theorists and doomsday fans alike—his highly trafficked YouTube video “September 23, 2017—You Need to See This” has already accumulated over 2 million views.

But let’s let the heavens battle within themselves, after all, the earth has enough to be held accountable for.

In recent weeks, historic floods have devastated the American south, southeast and across the globe in Bangladesh. As of last week, President Trump used these devastating hurricanes to speed up tax reforms that benefit the rich. Acts like these express entrenched environmental and political inequalities, accompanied by their own fear-inducing forecasts. As President Trump threatens to quit the nuclear deal with Iran, it’s no wonder some conspiracy-theory enthusiasts are trafficking Mead’s argument, meanwhile perpetuating ineffective and disengaged viewpoints.

In “September 23—You Need to See This,” users find Virgo, played by a slim white woman crowned with stars, pregnant with a child of the divine. Virgo and her child are threatened by the seven-headed dragon who desires her child, and their battle is the celestial stage for Mead’s prediction. As the book of revelations describes it, God throws the dragon down to earth, earth swallows “the dragon”, and Mead interprets the winged-beast as long-debunked dwarf planet Nibiru.

As many epistolary steps as there are to the narrative, this damsel-in-distress narrative seems to be more propagated fantasy, rather than any kind of factually-founded claim. While Mead acknowledges his story is based on the 12th Revelation in the Book of Revelations, the planet Nibiru was actually a fabricated claim made by the late Zecheria Sitchin. Sitchin was known for his borrowed reinterpretation of an ancient Mesopotamian seal, which he used to found his argument for the planet Nibiru and its potential threat—one he hoped would make it to Hollywood. And while Sitchin’s claims remained unsubstantiated, he gathered a cult following that disseminated the lurking tales of Nibiru.

Sitchin’s invention eventually became such public myth that NASA scientist David Morrison made a YouTube video to assure everyone there was no such thing as the planet Nibiru. If there was, astronomists would have been able to see the planet four years ago, making an orbit around the visible Mars. Nothing ever appeared.

Dr. Morrison actually ended up making his video after receiving a letter from a 12-year-old girl, who was both frightened and perplexed about the racialized “brown-dwarf planet” she heard her classmates discussing. Mead is simply volunteering another charged iteration for public distraction.

Otherwise, the rest of Mead’s provocation is based in symbolic math, relying on doomsday predictions via numerology and the number 33. As Mead told the Washington Post, “Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible].” And September 23, 2017, will make 33 days from the divinely-interpreted solar eclipse, which some evangelical wings have equated with Rapture.

As Mead argues, “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.” While his claim is meant as a prediction for October’s apocalyptic unfoldings, it could easily be mistaken as a cautionary statement made by climate scientists and political leaders of our times.

Therefore, before we scour the internet in order to interpret heaven-sent signposts and portended apocalypses, perhaps we should take responsibility for human’s impact on the destruction of planet earth. Both deities and humanity are watching alike, but they may not be on YouTube.

Sophie Linden is an editorial assistant at AlterNet's office in Berkeley, CA. 

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