Will Doomsday Predictions Ever End?

So, the Rapture has come and gone, without, as far as we know, a single person actually being raptured. Doomsday predictions come and go. And, while they are fun at the time, after they are gone people seldom remember them once they’re past. I’ve compiled a short list of doomsday predictions throughout history (and this is a very short list). But, more will come. It seems to be as undeniable as the tides.

One of the best documented cases of a failed doomsday prediction by the actual group members making the prediction was recored by social scientist Leon Festinger. In 1954, Festinger infiltrated a doomsday cult, a group that believed that UFOs were going to cause a great flood that would decimate the planet and wrote about it in the book When Prophecy Fails. The group received their information in a manner very similar to the divine revelation of a lot of doomsday predictions; “automatic writing” received by the groups leader “Marian Keech”. Mrs Keech would go into a trance in which she believed she was communicating telepathically with the aliens. As with other forms of alleged supernatural knowledge, there is no way for any other member of the group to investigate the claims or double check the results. They must merely accept or reject the claims on faith alone.

Once the UFO group’s date came and went without any UFO related destruction to speak of, they justified their beliefs. They theorized that the event would have happened, had it not been for their involvement. They had been responsible for delaying the event. Most failed doomsday prediction are met the same way. The Christian group, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, predicted the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ in a much publicized event in 1975. They later claimed that Jesus had come, only invisibly. In 1994, Harold Camping’s failed prediction of the Rapture was justified by claiming that the prediction actually predicted the end of the “Church Age”, a rationalization that is unclear enough to be unfalsifiable, as well as completely useless. What Camping will say, if anything, about the May 21, 2011 event remains to be seen. But, there is one thing for certain: there will be more doomsday predictions to come. So, be skeptical, but go ahead and enjoy them.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ancient Superstition, Superstition in the Modern World

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