In September, to much fame, a man who claimed to have studied astronomy in Kentucky and deciphered the Book of Revelation predicted an ominous sign would appear on September 23 and foretell the world's end.
"It's a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number," David Meade told The Washington Post then. A series of catastrophic events would follow the omen, he claimed, culminating in the appearance of a mysterious planet called Nibiru and the end of "the world as we know it".
Meade's claim sold a lot of tabloids and YouTube ads. When September 23 passed with no omens or calamities, Meade revised his very numerologically significant date to October 15, which also came and went uneventfully.
You might think two consecutive misfires would quash the Nibiru theory. Instead, it's simply transcended its erroneous author.
Meade isn't even mentioned in the latest batch of tabloid stories, which quote yet another doomsday theorist to warn that the end of all things not on September 23 or October 15 — but now Nov. 19, when Nibiru is supposed to set off cataclysmic earthquakes.
"November 19th will see earthquake Armageddon across huge swaths of the planet," the Daily Express wrote in representative tones.
The paper cited as evidence unnamed "astronomers and seismologists" — and an illegible picture of the Earth, covered like pincushion in quake markers.
Try to pin down the "astronomers and seismologists" who supposedly support this theory, and you end up at PlanetXNews.com, a conspiracy website that Meade sometimes writes for.
The quake-pocalypse theory comes to us courtesy of a different author, Terral Croft.
He writes that seismic activity has been increasing around the world as the massive "Black Star" (Nibiru has many names) wheels around the edge of the solar system, upsetting the planets within.
Meade predicted Nibiru would approach Earth, maybe even collide with it. But this latest version of the theory claims Earth will simply line up with the sun and the "black star" on November 19, somehow triggering a "backside-alignment quake event."
Croft's article doesn't say what, exactly will happen then. The tabloids have been happy to fill in the blanks, claiming volcanoes will erupt and tectonic plates would smash into one another.
But like every other Nibiru doomsday theory (which go back to 2003, as Kristine Phillips wrote for The Post) it's based on an analysis of pure fantasy.
Nibiru, as far as science can tell us, simply doesn't exist.
"It would be bright. It would be easily visible to the naked eye," a NASA scientist wrote several years ago.
"It would already be perturbing the orbits of Mars and Earth."
Astronomy aside, Croft's article cites data from the US Geological Society to argue that earthquakes have been increasing across the eastern US and Canada as Niburu approaches its calamitous alignment with the sun.
With the USGS couldn't immediately be reached for comment, the agency's earthquake catalogue tells a different story. So far, 2017 has seen fewerearthquakes worldwide with a weaker average magnitude than the same period in 2016.
Not that anything, at this point, appears able to stop Nibiru's imaginary advances.
In fact, the Express had a breaking update on Saturday — a new theory blaming a Vatican coverup for all of Nibiru's apparent failures to end the world on schedule.
2017 © The Washington Post
This article was originally published by The Washington Post.