CLARIN

Facebook Doomsday Suicide Group Raises Alarms On Argentina's Mystical Mountain

Online nvitation was for Dec. 21, the Mayan calendar's fateful day...

At the summit of Mt Uritorco
At the summit of Mt Uritorco
Lucas Cruzado

CORDOBA – It was circulating on social media before finally reaching the desks of Capilla del Monte police: an anonymous person on Facebook was inviting people to "a spiritual magical suicide on December 21 at 21:12 on Uritorco Mountain.”

The invitation received (virtual) RSVPs from about 150 people. Following this, the owners of the mythical Cordoban mountain shut the site and banned access on Dec. 21 – 21-12 – a key day in the Mayan calendar representing the end of a cycle.

The closure will occur just days before the city and Cordoba region, in the center of Argentina, are due for a tourism boom with the arrival of around 15,000 people.

"The truth is that we have been working on the issue ever since we learned about it. We are concerned that while it may be a joke, you never know what could happen," Rafael García Pérez, the manager of Uritorco Mountain told Clarín.

The Uritorco is 1979-meters high and became internationally famous when, in Jan. 1986, a flash of light left a 120 x 70 meter mark on one side. Since then, there have been numerous UFO and alien sightings, attracting many New Age tourists.

The event created on the social networking site is called "Massive Magical Suicide 21/12/2012." On the page, the following can be read: "To all the believers, beings and warriors of the light, I invite you to a spiritual suicide en masse in Uritorco, Cordoba, Argentina. We will abandon our unclean flesh and transport our spirit through the inter dimensional portal at 21 hours, 12 minutes on 21/12/2012 and from this will be created an army of light that will save humanity ... in this change of era."

Mass meditations are not cancelled

Notified about the invitation, in which 150 people clicked that they would be "attending" the event, the Anchorena family, private owners of the mountain, contacted their lawyer, who advised them not to open on that day. The mayor of Capilla del Monte, Gustavo Sez, has himself organized meetings on the issue. The biggest worry is that in a town of just 16,000 inhabitants, the number of people in the streets would double in just a few hours.

"We do not want to be too careless or contribute to any action that may serve such ideas, however crazy they sound," said Rafael García Pérez, adding that, "the priority is to protect every visitor."

Sources close to the Anchorena family told Clarín that "there is a 95% chance that we will decide not to open. We are awaiting formal notification of the municipality to inform the tourism office."

The family insider added: "Surely they will ask the authorities to help us block all access to the mountain, including for all the various alternative paths that exist to go up to the top. However, the bar-restaurant at the bottom will stay open." Other activities planned for during the day, including the mass meditations, will take place as schedule.

So far, the creator of the group -- posting under the pseudonym "Ente EBR" -- has not been identified. On the Facebook page, there are images of the universe and statements like "The world will end on 21/12. What will you do?” There are various links and also, a lot of jokes.

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Ideas

Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.


This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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