A History of Nibiru, the Made-up Planet That Keeps Failing to Destroy the Earth

Nibiru, the secretive Planet X speculated to exist by some people who are not astronomers, will not pass through our solar system and destroy the Earth this Saturday, goddamnit.

David Meade, an author who boldly describes himself as a “Christian numerologist” despite that not now, or ever having been a job, predicts the world’s end in a potent mix of Bible-code-eschatology and New Age Planet X fears. And he issues his prophecy via the means best accepted by the people: incredibly stupid Youtube videos.

A woman will descend from heaven, looking like something out of a Pure Moods ad.

“…but because she saw The Shape of Water, she’ll kinda be into it.”

A great red dragon will appear, looking like a Langolier rendered on a Nintendo 64.

Snatched up by God in a way akin to the magical books in Myst, yet somehow with more antiquated graphics.

Ah yes, what more Judeo-Christian symbols are there than Astraea, Hermes, Ares and Aphrodite? We later learn that her child is Jupiter – that classic figure of Christianity, Zeus, God of Thunder.

What follows is an apocalypse depicted with all the verisimilitude of a basic cable drama starring a lesser Skarsgard.

My god, look at the sky…it’s a blurry aurora, at this time of year, localized entirely in your shitty Youtube video!

People disappear worldwide from stock footage of major cities, carried away in epilepsy-inducing balls of light. On this random street, hazy filters distract us from how few people are actually there as cars crash and helicopters fall in some hollow The Leftovers-ripoff. I guess the message is less “be Christian and stuff” and more “NEXT TIME YOU INVITE FINAL PAM TO BARBECUE”.

Pants fall from the sky and we close with a final warning:

…says the man literally making an overwrought Youtube video saying the exact day and hour he thinks the world will end. What a world, what a world.


Nibiru theories originate with ZetaTalk, a website set up by one Nancy Lieder, a self-described “contactee” who believed she channeled grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli. Lieder gained famed for alleging the end of the world in May 2003 by means of Planet X’s close pass by Earth; she also claimed the Hale-Bopp comet’s pass in 1997 didn’t exist, merely being a distraction from Planet X’s impending approach.

Planet X soon became enmeshed with a theory by Zecharia Sitchin, an ancient astronauts fanatic who claimed the Sumerians were influenced by a race known as the Anunnaki, who originate from a hidden tenth planet, Nibiru, because aliens from a secret planet no one’s seen before is way more believable than non-Europeans ever building a thing, obviously. Yet even Sitchin rebuked Lieder’s theories, meaning that Lieder achieved the rare feat of pulling off a bullshit interpretation of another bullshit interpretation of history.

Those inclined to see heralds of the weekly apocalypse as harmless loons should rethink that position. For one, Phil Plait, NASA’s David Morrison and many other actual astronomers had to spend way, way too much of their time debunking these theories. For another, Lieder casually suggested people murder their pets in advance of Nibiru’s arrival, and seemingly did so herself.


When the world failed to end in May 2003, Nibiru should have faded away. And yet the conspiracy theory rose again, now conflated with the 2012 Mayan apocalypse fear. With 2012 safely passing without any shadow planets destroying all life, Nibiru again failed to die and now, supposedly, will destroy the Earth this Saturday which, we can hope. Why this Saturday, you may ask?

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

It’s truly convincing evidence: when you take one number, and cherrypick another specific use of it, well, there’s the number twice, and that’s just math, obviously. Basically all Bible code people act the same way: you find a number, and then you search for whatever random use of it you can find to construct whatever theory you want. Psalms 69 mentions water, and lakes come up forty-two times in the Bible, maybe, so uh, the Bible’s pretty nice.

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

Yes, what truer omen of there for an astrological event you think will happen in Israel than a total eclipse in America? It’s also strange because solar eclipses happen every year, and 2017 actually has fewer solar eclipses than other years but, uh, 4 8 15 16 23 42, world ends on Tuesday.

Even Christian sites rebuke Meade, noting, among other things, that Christian numerology does not real. It doesn’t even slightly real.

You could go in depth debunking Nibiru – how there’s no trace of its gravity, for example. You could go at debunking Nibiru for hours, in fact. But you really shouldn’t have to. Two million people watched Meade’s video, and I have no doubt that many of his believers also awaited the world’s end in 2012, in 2003, in 1997, and so on, and move on to the next theory. Others may be innocent people being taken advantage of.

Nibiru, in an ideal world, would be self-debunking. But unfortunately, we live in a world willing to lavish media attention on some wacky kook who uses their platform to urge animal abuse, who treat those who use fear to take advantage of people as harmless. That we even have to waste time responding to these people is depressing.

Nibiru won’t come this Saturday, and it won’t come the next Saturday, or whatever date’s next in this endless marathon.

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