The impact of the public fear of the Nibiru cataclysm has been especially felt by professional astronomers. In 2008, Mike Brown said that Nibiru was the most common pseudoscientific topic he was asked about.
Before his retirement after 2012, David Morrison, director of the SETI Institute, CSI Fellow and Senior Scientist at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute at Ames Research Center, said he received 20 to 25 emails a week about the impending arrival of Nibiru: some frightened, others angry and naming him as part of the conspiracy to keep the truth of the impending apocalypse from the public, and still others asking whether or not they should kill themselves, their children or their pets. Half of these emails were from outside the U.S. “Planetary scientists are being driven to distraction by Nibiru,” notes science writer Govert Schilling, “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.” In a similar vein, Professor Brian Cox Tweeted 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.”
NASA frequently has to evaluate whether or not to respond to such claims, and the value of reassuring the public is outweighed by the risk of granting further exposure to a completely non-scientific idea. Prior to the 2012 date, Morrison stated that he hoped that the non-arrival of Nibiru could serve as a teaching moment for the public, instructing them on “rational thought and baloney detection”, but doubted that would happen. During the 2017 revival, Morrison stated that the Nibiru phenomenon “keeps popping up over and over” despite his original assumption that it would be short-lived.
Morrison noted in a lecture recorded on FORA.tv that there was a huge disconnect between the large number of people on the Internet who believed in Nibiru’s arrival and the majority of scientists who have never heard of it. To date he is the only major NASA scientist to speak out regularly against the Nibiru phenomenon.
A viral marketing campaign for Sony Pictures’ 2009 film 2012, directed by Roland Emmerich, which depicts the end of the world in the year 2012, featured a supposed warning from the “Institute for Human Continuity” that listed the arrival of Planet X as one of its doomsday scenarios. Mike Brown attributed a spike in concerned emails and phone calls he received from the public to this site. Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier drew inspiration from Nibiru for his 2011 apocalyptic film Melancholia. A planet named “Nibiru” made a cameo appearance in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness, which was connected to the cataclysm in the press.