In New Age circles, the idea that some sort of world-spanning cataclysmic event will take place in December 2012 has been gaining traction for years, thanks largely to the calculations of ancient Mayan astronomers who pegged that moment as the end of a cycle of eons. Joseph uses that prophecy as a starting point, but claims that his interest lies in more substantial scientific threats to the planet-including cracks in Earth's magnetic field, the eruption of supervolcanoes and flareups of sunspot radiation. On the other hand, he also gives credence to planetary alignments and The Bible Code before veering into a rant about how the real problem is Christian fundamentalists who want to manipulate the Middle East into Armageddon. When he sticks to science journalism, Joseph is a lively tour guide, introducing readers to Mayan shamans and Russian scientists with equal aplomb. But when he encourages readers to start praying they survive the coming apocalypse, he comes off as exactly the sort of crackpot he claims to eschew. Still, there's less kookery than in other 2012 books, making Joseph a reasonably straightforward guide to the theory.