Posted by: Johan Normark | June 3, 2011

2012: Comments on a review of a book

John Major Jenkins, one of the main figures involved in the 2012 phenomenon, has recently posted his review of David Stuart’s book The Order of Days. I have not read the book yet but here I will comment on Jenkins’s review. I recognize that there are differences between various 2012ers and Jenkins is without a doubt the one who knows the Maya stuff best. He is not as easy to reject as people like Calleman. I have, honestly, no major problems with archaeoastronomy as such but I see it as widely exaggerated in importance. Jenkins’s review shows how personal it can get.

Jenkins does not like Stuart’s book at all since it does not discuss astronomy to any greater extent and particularly Jenkins own galactic alignment version. The review is primarily written as a defense of Jenkins own ideas, how misunderstood he is, how hard his life has been, how he has devoted his life to the task of exposing this major phenomenon, how horrible and elitist academics are that sit in their ivory tower, etc. He blames Stuart for prejudice but the review is so full of prejudice against Maya academica that just one quote will show the “essence” of the review: “This unfortunately reveals a rather ugly underbelly of elitism in the Ivory Tower of Maya academia, which I suspect is populated by a preponderance (or at least a loud minority) of atheists who have personal problems with spirituality. This reflex is the same irrational and judgmental tendency that warps the mind of the racist, who harbors unconscious hate for selected demographics of humanity.” This is the usual prejudice against atheism that attempts to indirectly associate it with racism. Most racism that prevails today comes from religious people (or perhaps they are not “spiritual” since I suspect Jenkins dislike organized religions as well). Jenkins desperately wants the attention and respect from the Mayanists and that they treat his ideas (good luck after this review). In another blog post about an article written by Jenkins I noted that he calls the Classic period Maya corrupted and decadent (ethnocentric prejudice anyone?). Maybe more prejudice in his Black Boxed theory will be revealed if we open it? I can give you another example from his review. He associates Stuart with a materialist outlook. I suspect that Jenkins has a limited understanding of the various forms of materialism that exist. Materialism is simply an idealism with a realist alibi.

Jenkins states that Stuart neglects important data. Well, Jenkins does that himself. Maybe he should not refer too much to Sven Gronemeyer and Barbara MacLeod’s article. That article in no way supports Jenkins’s idea that the Long Count ends on December 21, 2012. They write that the Long Count would continue into 14 Baktun. They do, however, state that the 13 Baktun date was important at Tortuguero (but that was far more of local importance). I do not know why Stuart did not include the results from their article in his book but in one of my posts on the article, Stanley Guenter gives us some hints of why this may be so. Many epigraphers simply disagree with Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s readings of eroded glyphs. Of course, such “materialist” concerns as the state of preservation of glyphs in stone is of little issue when you focus on transcendent Maya metaphysics.

Nowhere in his review does Jenkins refer to Aldana’s recent critique of the GMT correlation. Jenkins argue that many contemporary Maya epigraphers dislike astronomy or that they do not know it too well (I prefer epigraphers who actually can read and decipher the glyphs rather than those people who make connections between recorded dates from the currently prevailing correlation constant in order to find links to celestial bodies). However, Aldana knows both glyphs and astronomy and perhaps that is why Jenkins chose not to mention him here. One of Jenkins’s main arguments is that it cannot be pure coincidence that the 13 Baktun date ends on a solstice. If the correlation constant is at least 60 days off, as Aldana said already in 2001, than this is indeed a coincidence.

I see Jenkins’s review as the result of how you react when you have devoted decades to a single idea and exaggerated its importance (and in that process also exaggerated your own personal importance). No, Stuart or other Mayanists are not “threatened” by the 2012 phenomenon. We are just tired of it. Jenkins is the one who is threatened and his review is a splendid testimony of this.

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  1. I Support JMJ’s Naked-eye Astronomy,And Plan On Being In Izapa On !2/21/2012.The Stone Carvers Did Not Write In Stone Just To Pass Time.

    • Maybe Those Maya Stone Carvers Wrote In The Stone By Carving, Because They Did Not Have a Ballpoint Pen To Write With?

  2. My post was not so much about Jenkins’s research as it had to do with how he undermines his own attempt to become respectable in scholarly circles by writing a review like this.


  4. How can you possibly comment on a book that you haven’t read yet? Yes, perhaps you know his work but it still isn’t good practice to make comments on books that you haven’t read yet!

  5. Who makes a comment on a book he/she has not read? Me? Read my post again then… I am not commenting on the book but Jenkins’s weird review of the book.

  6. Haha, I’m reading some of the blog comments on your review of the Gronemeyer and MacLeod article now and it’s pretty funny. You say “many epigraphers disagree” but none of them seem bothered enough to write an article about it. I am maintaining the Wikipedia article on this and if nobody can be arsed to reply to Gronemeyer and MacLeod in a formal medium, rather than semi-anonymous blog comments, then their theory must stand. I don’t want to see this opportunity shed light on Maya ritual and prophecy wasted (not to mention the related issue of poor preservation of Maya sites).

    • Greetings “IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU!”. As I am finishing up my dissertation at the moment I do not have time to put together a formal paper on Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s article. I agree with a lot of what they have written, I should say, but especially regarding their analysis of the only part of Tortuguero Monument 6 that talks about 2012 I do have problems. Their analysis includes providing specific readings for signs that the majority of epigraphers I have spoken to (including myself) believe are simply not legible. Even if we would grant them these readings, their interpretation of this phrase is not one that I can accept follows from the evidence.

      I don’t mean any disrespect, but your post here highlights why I teach my students to be wary of citing Wikipedia. It is fairly clear you are not an epigrapher yourself and yet you are “maintaining” the Wikipedia article on this subject. You seem to think that if no one contradicts a published article that it necessarily must stand unrefuted and the accepted, authoritative word on the subject. The trouble is you haven’t considered the source or its date. Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s article is an online publication, the Wayeb Notes. These are a great resource and I have published there myself. However, the article in question was published there only last year (2010). That doesn’t give much time for the rest of the epigraphic community to read the article and publish their own responses.

  7. David Stuart writes on his blog that he disagrees with their reading but he does not discuss the reasons for this in any detail. What Stanley Guenter has said about it can be found in the link above. These are hardly any semi-anonymous people but are well known epigraphers and Stan let us know that there are several other epigraphers who disagree with their reading (“several” in this case is quite few since there are not that many professional Maya epigraphers in the world). I am not an epigrapher myself so I do not side with any particular camp here. If someone is to reply to their results in a formal medium that may take some time to publish. If they bother doing that is another matter since Monument 6 is to infested with the 2012 nonsense.

  8. Johan,
    You wrote “Nowhere in his review does Jenkins refer to Aldana’s recent critique of the GMT correlation.” Stuart uses the 584283, which I agree with, so there was no reason to discuss the correlation in my review of Stuart’s book. Nevertheless, I have discussed the correlation at very great length on my website and in all my books going back to 1992, with a special focus on the issue of continuity of the 260-day calendar that Aldana questions in his paper. In addition, an important source I cited in my review of Stuart’s book is to the MEC-Facebook discussion that transpired in December 2010. Aldana participated and I responded to his critiques, which partially included the issue of the GMT correlation. Please read that. It is a freely available 212-page PDF in the Online Research section of the Maya Exploration Center website. So you may have to dig a little deeper. I also responded privately to Aldana in November. The non-GMT argument is pretty much dead, even though it’s always possible to exploit gray areas and suggest the slim chance that it’s not correct. It’s theoretically possible that a duck will turn into a chicken. And some people still believe the earth is flat. As for characterizing my response as “personal,” that’s a good way to distract from the dozen or so valid fact-based points of critique that no professional Maya scholar will have the cajones to publicly point out. Stuart’s neglect of astronomy was just one of many errors and omissions, which I explicated quite clearly in my review. The review should be seen as a contribution to clarity and a correction of factually-incorrect information. And yes, some of that (as usual) involves incorrect assumptions and assertions about my work to reconstruct the astronomical basis of the 13-Bak’tun period ending in 2012.

    John Major Jenkins

  9. […] begins by rejecting academic/scientific knowledge. If you want an example of this, take a look at John Major Jenkins’ review of David Stuart’s book The Order of […]

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