But Gary Baddeley, who included Joseph in his 2008 documentary, "2012: Science or Superstition," wanted to get to the truth.
"I saw these books and films coming out, and they were doing well, but I thought they were really misleading and no one was focusing on the big picture," he told ABCNews.com. "I knew the movie '2012' was coming out and they were going to take the date and run with the idea of the apocalypse, as a tidal wave crashes over the Himalayas in the opening scene. I knew it would spark a lot of anxiety and essentially misinformation."
Instead, Baddeley heard from scientists and spiritualists who suggested seismic changes in the cosmos might lead to enlightenment, rather than disaster.
"Many end-of-times prophesies are being bandied about, and 2012 is a convenient date to glom on to, but it's no more ominous than Y2K," he said. "And if you go down to Mesoamerica and ask the modern Mayan what Dec. 21 means to you, it means tourism."
Whether 2012 brings the end of the earth or the Age of Aquarius is anyone's guess. But culture critic Thompson said upheaval makes one wonder.
"Human beings have spent a good portion of civilization looking over their shoulders for the end to come," he said. "Horrible things could happen in 2012 or tomorrow. Life is so unpredictable, and we have incredibly sophisticated weapons in the world we live in. There are lots of bad things."
So does he believe 2012 will be that end.
"No," he said. "But one day, they will be right."