The big budget disaster film 2012, starring John Cusack as a father trying to save his kids in a world devastated by solar flares and supervolcanos, hits theaters this weekend. The movie is based on an ancient Mayan prophecy suggesting that 2012 could be the end of the line for humanity. It's stoking real-life apocalyptic fears in at least a few people. Should the rest of us be concerned? (Watch John Cusack and others discuss "2012" and the end of days)

It's a load of nonsense: In spite of what you may have heard, "nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012," says Jason Townsend at NASA's website. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012." The purveyors of doom have offered up many scary scenarios, but there is no scientific basis for any of them.
"2012: Beginning of the end, or why the world won't end?"

Not an end—a new beginning! There is indeed a long calendar cycle that ends on Dec. 21, 2012, says "leading Mayan shaman" Carlos Barrios in The Wall Street Journal. But that date will not mark the end of the world. Rather, the new cycle will be a time of "harmony and more closeness to the natural world."
"2012 movie: Apocalypse not?"

Maybe the ancient Mayans just predicted this disaster movie: "The film is part of the prophecy in a sense," says Daniel Pinchbeck at Teen Hollywood. We can either laugh off the doomsday scenario, or we can search for a "deeper" meaning. A little fear might be what people need to see that we have a "crucial window" to make the world a better place, before it's too late.
"2012: Should you be scared?"