Exposing PseudoAstronomy

September 7, 2009

Planet X and 2012: The “Institute for Human Continuity” Is NOT REAL


Introduction

I know I said I wouldn’t be doing another post until around October, but this is just really ticking me off, so I need to post about it. For those who don’t know, I listen to Coast to Coast AM, a paranormal radio show that lasts 4 hrs, in order to get ideas for blog posts. But now, people are calling into the show convinced that a movie promo is a real thing, and they’re getting worried. To me, this is incredibly irresponsible, so let’s talk about it.

All posts in this series:

The “Institute for Human Continuity”

I liked the movie Independence Day. I thought it was good, and I could suspend enough disbelief to enjoy it. But, the director, Roland Emmerich, has not followed up with movies that are as good. First there was Godzilla that got panned by the critics. And there was Day After Tomorrow. Now, there’s the 2012 movie due out this Fall (2009). Once again, he gets to destroy the White House, this time with CGI instead of models.

What does this have to do with the “Institute for Human Continuity?” Well, several months ago, an innocuous website appeared for them. They claimed that they’d been tracking Planet X for years, it’s going to cause all sorts of havoc on Earth when it comes by (in 2012), and that they’re running a lottery for people for spots in their safehouse.

It is a very slick website, and right at the top is a “REGISTER NOW FOR SURVIVAL LOTTERY.” It has movies of destruction, apparent doctors (Ph.D.s) who backup their claims and are involved in their project, a poll of “Which disaster scenario do you think will happen in 2012?” with “Planet X,” “Crustal Displacement,” and “Solar Activity” as the options (as of writing this), and for all intents and purposes it looks VERY convincing.

The only problem is that it’s all fake.

At the time it came up, there was NO disclaimer on the website. The only sign that it may be publicity for a movie was the little © 2009 Sony Pictures at the bottom of the website. In my righteous outrage, I sent them an e-mail saying that I thought it was irresponsible advertising to frighten people with such a website without a disclaimer.

Since then – I doubt it was due to my unanswered e-mail, but perhaps due to their own lawyers – they have made it a little more obvious that the site is to promote the 2012 movie. Unfortunately, that amounts to a small text at the bottom that states, “Explore the 2012 Movie Experience.” I searched their site for several minutes, and that was all I could find.

Irresponsible Advertising and Fear-Mongering

And it’s scaring people. “My daughter and I just saw a commercial for it on the History Channel and there was no indication that it’s fake. It must be real.” That was what a recent caller into the Coast to Coast AM episode I was listening just said. Others are just as convinced it’s real.

In my opinion, this is incredibly irresponsible advertising. But that’s really for a lawyer to decide. It’s using a popular myth and drumming it up, playing off of it in order to create more interest for their upcoming movie.

Final Thoughts

You may disagree with me. You may think I’m over-reacting to something that should – to any reasonable person – obviously be taken as a movie promo.

But it’s not being seen as that. People think it’s real because the popular culture thinks the end of the world is coming on December 21, 2012, and this only adds to that. Sony Pictures has not made it sufficiently clear that this is just a fake site in order to create interest in their movie. There comes a point where there’s personal responsibility for people viewing things on TV and the internet, but there also comes a point where corporations should be responsible for the fear they create.

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