Posted by: Johan Normark | October 18, 2009

2012: How to spot a prophet’s Maya hoax: false dilemmas and straw men

The easiest way to detect a 2012 prophet’s logical fallacy is to look for false dilemmas and straw men in their arguments. A false dilemma is when one characterizes the opposite position (that would be science or the “orthodox” view as they often call it) in terms of two alternatives. Only two options are considered when there tend to be several other options. The first is quite undesirable and the second is even worse. This is quite often a black or white scenario since the two options tend to be extreme versions. For example, on the Swedish 2012 forum a member wrote in response to my link to the satire on creationism vs science (dressed up as ancient alien theory vs common archaeology), that he or she preferred aliens instead of creationism (sadistic Christian god) or the cold and dead Darwinism (modern science). This is a typical (but of course not the only) position within the 2012 circus. Hence creationism and science (two opposite views) are both wrong so the alien theory is preferable.

The straw man argument is when you misrepresent the opponent’s position. When you attack the straw man you create an illusion of refuting a proposition by replacing a superficially similar proposition (this is the straw man) without actually refuting the original position. This is quite a common strategy as well (not only in the 2012 circus since we all tend to fall into this trap). I have been accused of that myself by peer-reviewers that disliked my characterization of Mayanist research (or rather the Maya culture concept) as being too generalizing. Some of the reviewers have actually argued against my straw man with another straw man: that I denigrate the human. I guess the main problem is that I call myself posthumanist or posthumanocentric (as I call my own approach). This is apparently conflated with being antihuman… I do no such thing and if you bother reading this blog you will find out that there are quite a lot of human becomings (not beings) in my approach.

In any case, this shows that we often attack the opposite side by creating a straw man version of their arguments. In the 2012 circus we often find misrepresentation of archaeology, science, “Western way of life”, etc. “Mainstream” archaeology is seen as orthodox when it does not accept the pseudoscientific “fact” that there are even more ancient civilizations (such as Atlantis) that handed down their knowledge. Never mind that such diffusionist ideas actually once existed in mainstream archaeology (maybe not as Atlantis but at least as the idea that civilization spread from one place to another). So when 2012ers refute “orthodox” archaeology they are refuting a sterile stereotypical view that they have created for themselves, hence they will never be able to refute archaeology, particularly since they also tend to lack any archaeological training and education.  Anyway, I am sure my 2012 opponents will say that my characterizations of them are straw men.



  1. Es muy interesante tu caracterización del hombre de paja. Por mi parte, estoy convencido que el hito de 2012 señalado por los mayas tiene una trascendencia e importancia realmente existencial.
    Reitero mi felicitación por tus notas y el blog.
    Mi cordial saludo.

    It’s very interesting your straw man characterization. For my part I am convinced that the 2012 milestone set by the Maya has a truly existential significance and importance.
    I reiterate my congratulations for your notes and the blog.
    My cordial greetings.

  2. nice to read. keep sharing

  3. Massive reality of archaeology research..interesting reading

  4. I guess we will have another baktun ending on the 28th of March 2407 as well. It will be as important or nonimportant as the upcoming baktunending in 2012.


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