The Nibiru Conspiracy


The recipe for a good outer space and/or alien conspiracy typically begins with a few common ingredients: take one rogue planet, add in an incredibly intelligent extraterrestrial lifeform (best left out to warm up for roughly 450,000 years), toss in a dash of misunderstood ancient carvings and bad translations. Then let rise with a cover made from reinterpreting the Bible for one's own purposes and let warm by the fires of inspiration fueled by megalithic sites like Machu Picchu and Stonehenge.

And make sure to sprinkle liberally with insistent modern-day "prophets" of these theories; best if they are enigmatic speakers and prolific writers who manage to form mini-cults around their batshit ideas.

Once rested, you'll have a perfect outer space conspiracy.

Episode: File 0062: Planet Montauk: Water Bears and Lost Anime

Release Date: March 4 2022

Researched and presented by Halli

Zecharia Stitchin and the beginnings of Nibiru

There are a ton of roads to go down when it comes to outer space conspiracies. It's easy to wander down an alley leading to Linda Moulton Howe, the death of the "Love Has Won" cult leader Amy Carlson, Irish literature, Heaven's Gate, and even Scientology. There are dozens of ways we could go about discussing outer space conspiracies (and it is a fascinating rabbit hole to slide down), but what started my interest in all of this was the planet known as Nibiru and how it is destined to hit Earth and destroy us all. I do enjoy a good doomsday theory.

Nibiru, or planet X, the nonexistent planet, or the twelfth planet, has been part of the outer space conspiracy mythos since 1976. All because of a man named Zecharia Stitchin. To understand Nibiru, it's important we know who Stitchin is, and better yet, what he did.

Born in 1910 to Jewish parents and raised in what today is Israel, he received a degree in economics from the University in London. He was also an editor and journalist before moving to New York in 1952 as an executive for a shipping company. His interest with Sumerian culture and history started early and grew into an obsession, driving Stitchin to teach himself Sumerican cuneiform and visit several archaeological sites tied to their history.

  • Cuneiform is a "logo-syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East." Cuneiform was actually originally developed to write the Sumerican language of southern Mesopotamia (now modern Iraq). It's one of the earliest writing systems, next to the more well-known Egyptian hieroglyphics. One of the most well-known examples of cuneiform script in ancient Mesopotamia is the Code of Hammurabi.
  • The study of cuneiform belongs to the field of Assyriology, which is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of Assyria and the rest of the ancient Meospotamian world.
  • The current sign list for cuneiform is 705 elements long with 42 of those numeric. There are certain signs to indicate the names of gods, countries, cities, vessels, birds, trees, and many more.

Some of Stitchin's own translations - in a style called "unique", lead him to write The Earth Chronicles; seven books outlining his interpretations of Sumerican and Akkadian texts.

But one in particular called The Twelfth Planet. This book was hugely influential in conspiracy and alien groups and continues to be to this day for doomsday planet/cataclysm preppers. In The Twelfth Planet, Stitchin claims "there is a 12th planet beyond Neptune known as Nibiru that reaches our inner solar system once every 3,600 years." But that's only the beginning, because Stitchin also claims that an advanced race of humanoid extraterrestrials known as the Anunnaki live on Nibiru and are the "missing link" in the evolution of homo sapiens. Stitchin's books have sold millions of copies and been translated into almost twenty languages. The number of people who still use his books and theories as their holy grail for understanding Nibiru, Anunnaki, and extraterrestrials are incalculable.

As you might expect, Stitchin's theories and translations have been debunked by experts across multiple scientific fields. I read a fascinating essay by a student at The Ohio State University talking about how his parents, dis-fellowshipped Jehovah's Witnesses, went in search of a "new truth" to answer the big questions their defunct faith used to. This person was introduced to Stitchin through his parents and it became a source of fascination for them.

Nibiru and the Anunnaki: A "History"

In the earliest Sumerian writings about the Anunnaki, they are described as deities, descendents of the gods An and Ki (the god of the heavens and the goddess of earth) and their main reason for existence was to decree the fates of humanity. The oldest of the Anunnaki was Enlil, the god of air and the main god of the Sumerian pantheon. They were chiefly mentioned in literary texts by those who worshipped them individually. There have been no representations found of the Anunnaki as a complete group, although there have been depictions of two or three of them together. A temple dedicated to an Anunnaki was believed to be that deity's literal place of residence and would be home to a statue of the god themself. It was believed that these statues were the earthly, physical manifestation of that god/Anunnaki and so the statues were given constant care and attention, from clothing to feasts.

But Stitchin believed the Anunnaki to be advanced humanoid extraterrestrials from Nibiru. According to Stitchin, the Anunnaki came to Earth roughly 500,000 years ago and "constructed a base of operations in order to mine gold after discovering that the planet was rich in the precious metal". Yep, the age old "aliens are after our resources" story. But on top of that, he believed that the Anunnaki "hybridized" their species and Homo erectus via in vitro fertilization to make Homo sapiens to slave away in the gold mines. But when the Antarctic glaciers melted, causing the Great Flood, their bases were destroyed and they left Earth. Needing more humans to help rebuild, the Anunnaki taught them agriculture.

Stitchin later expands on his own alternative history by claiming the Anunnaki built the wonders of the ancient world, including the pyramids and predicted they would return to earth as soon as 2012. Upon their return, the Anunnaki would take over once more.

What's completely fascinating is how Stitchin inspired more conspiracy theorists and, because of him, this Planet X theory exists. Before his death Stitchin wrote a book, The End of Days, "which set the time for the last passing of Nibiru by Earth at 556 BC", or AD 2900. He also said that the Anunnaki might return to Earth sooner than that via spaceship, and that the "timing of their return would coincide with the shift from the astrological Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, sometime between 2090 and 2370." But he denied any connection between his claims and that of his conspiracy theory descendents.

Nibiru and Planet X and the lingering end of the world

The Nibiru cataclysm was first put forth by Nancy Lieder in 1995. She's the founder of the website ZetaTalk (Nibiru and describes herself as a "contactee with the ability to receive messages from extraterrestrials from the Zeta Reitculi star system through an implant in her brain." She believes she was chosen to warn us of a planet that would crash through our solar system and potentially destroy earth. She referred to this planet as Planet X, or Nibiru; clearly influenced by Stitchin's work decades prior. Her first prediction was the world would end in 2003 because of this cataclysm. Interestingly, Lieder hasn't predicted a new date for our demise but she has influenced many other groups and theories.

When the end of the world didn't occur in 2003, the goal posts were moved. Doomsday cults picked up the year 2012 as the next end of the world year, possibly influenced by Stitchin's prediction that 2012 was the year the Anunnaki would return to Earth. Stitchin denied any link between his work and that of these cataclysm doomsday prophets (Stitchin died in 2010). But the Nibiru cataclysm theory lives on. A prediction by "self-described 'Christian numerologist' David Meade that the Nibiru cataclysm would occur on 23 September 2017" garnered a ton of media coverage. (Meade is a fascinating person and could have his own episode.)

And like any good conspiracy theory circle-jerk, it wouldn't be complete without blaming politicians, The Powers That Be (including NASA and various other government agencies), lasers, infrared technology, digital manipulation of images to erase "the truth", and purposefully deleted or hidden data. The consequences of this are long ranging, including harassment of professional astronomers (from being directly named in the conspiracies to being constantly asked about their pseduoscientific beliefs), to even receiving emails asking if the doomsdayers should kill themselves, their children, and pets to prevent dying in a fiery planet crash.

Science writer Govert Schilling noted:

"Planetary scientists are being driven to distraction by Nibiru. ... And it is not surprising; you devote so much time, energy and creativity to fascinating scientific research, and find yourself on the tracks of the most amazing and interesting things, and all the public at large is concerned about is some crackpot theory about clay tablets, god-astronauts and a planet that doesn't exist." 

Similarly, Professor Brian Cox posted on Twitter in 2012 that, 

"If anyone else asks me about 'Nibiru' the imaginary bullshit planet I will slap them around their irrational heads with Newton's Principia"

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