A new Reuters survey found that one in 10 people believe the end of the world will occur in 2012, and one in seven believe the world will end in their lifetimes.
"Perhaps it is because of the media attention coming from one interpretation of the Mayan prophecy that states the world ‘ends’ in our calendar year 2012,” Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs, told Reuters.
The Huffington Post's Jaweed Kaleem has previously reported on "a fringe yet growing community of people who are paying close attention to writings from the ancient Mayans, which they believe predict catastrophic disasters and a major reorientation of life on earth in 2012."
Doomsday and catastrophic predictions related to the Mayan calendar, which hits a symbolic turning point in late December next year, are not new. They already permeate pop culture through films, songs and hundreds of books. But as the new year approaches, interest has spiked.
Last year, California preacher Harold Camping convinced thousands that the end of the world would happen on May 21, 2011. He has since apologized for getting it wrong.
One New York City man spent his entire lifesavings on advertisements spreading word of Camping's doomsday prediction.