I just got back from giving a 2012 talk at the MindBodySpirit Festival at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Used to university budgets, I expect to see a sign where my name is scrawled on a sheet of A4 paper: at the MindBodySpirit Festival, speakers’ names come on a six-foot standing banner:
This was the same talk I gave earlier this year at the Atheist Society. To be clear, I frame my talks in a pretty sceptical fashion, stating right at the start that there is no solid evidence the Maya thought much at all about 2012, or that anything specific and “scientific” is going to happen to the world; in short, none of it is real. However, what is real are the perceptions people have about 2012, and that’s what I talk about.
At the Atheist Society, this take on 2012 resulted in me being called a “parasite” who is cashing in on 2012 (for the record, I didn’t receive a cent for speaking at the Atheist Society, or the MindBodySpirit Festival), and that it was not even a legitimate area of academic enquiry (rather, it should only be dismissed as cultic). At the MindBodySpirit Festival—full of allegedly flaky new agers—my largely sceptical position was accepted as sensible. Strange, eh? New Atheist fundamentalism seems less capable of grasping the nuance of a sociological phenomenon than those they dismiss as simple crystal-gazers.
Anyhow, there was a full room, which was nice, especially as it was the quietest of the three days of the festival to be scheduled. I enjoyed it, and I think the attendees did too.