Friday, October 21, 2011

Apocalypse Later: A look at Harold Camping (and a few others) that failed at predicting the end of the world, but keep on trying.

(photo @ the guardian)

Harold Camping

So in case you didn't know, October 21 was supposed to be the day the world ended, according to Harold Camping.  If you are reading this, then obviously, Mr. Camping was wrong...again. If you have kept up with the news in the last few months, you may know that this is now the fourth time that Harold Camping has confidently predicted the apocalypse.

The first two times were in 1994 and 1995. Camping had somehow been able to mathematically deduce the many dates, time, and interpretations of time in the Bible to come up with two predictions that he was "99.9% sure" would come true.

When they did not, Camping was greatly embarrassed and humbly vowed not to make these predictions again...of course I'm kidding. His response to getting the end of the world wrong twice was:

"I'm like the boy who cried wolf again and again and the wolf didn't come  This doesn't bother me in the slightest."

And the Lord said unto thee:
"Haters gonna hate."

Camping then claimed that judgement day would "absolutely" happen on May 21, 2011. He even had people from Family Radio, his radio broadcast church ministry, giving up their life savings to travel the country and promote the day of Jesus's return to earth.

Somehow, Camping must have missed Matthew 24:36 during all his Bible studies, which clearly states that no man can know when the rapture will occur.  Even if you don't believe in God, you have to question anyone who takes the main text of a religious faith that they swear by and thinks "I don't care what that part says, I got this!"

As you can clearly see, the rapture didn't happen on May 21. Well, actually, according to Camping, it was simply an "invisible judgement day"; the really big one would occur on October 21.

       Sure would be nice if my bills could have invisible due dates.

These ridiculous predictions (and completely incorrect results) bring up a couple of questions:

1.) How could Harold Camping (and his followers) be so sure about the date of the rapture, but somehow rationalize their calculations as incorrect but still sound? My favorite Camping rationalization can probably answer that question.

In Camping's original prediction for May 21, a giant earthquake would be felt all over the world, causing mass destruction and death. When this didn't happen, Camping explained that the earthquakes were actually "man quakes"; these were the result of the fear felt by all the people he had completely freaked with his predictions.

Only singing about the wrong force of nature kept them from being prophets.

Anyone that rationalizes any argument with the phrase "man quakes" has clearly lost the use of their mental faculties. The second questions is:

2.) Are there other people crazy enough to do what Harold Camping does (and people that are crazy enough to follow them)? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Pat Robertson

When he isn't calling for world leaders to be assassinated or pushing his line of diet shakes, Pat Robertson is a television evangelist and a frequent doomsday predictor. He first predicted that the world would end in 1982. He even promoted this on his widely followed show, the 700 Club, with a video of him in front of a giant globe making completely asinine statements.

When the world didn't end like he predicted, Robertson ran for president in 1988. One can only imagine what a great political platform someone would have that didn't even expect the world to exist during their candidacy. 

If God won't hurry up and destroy 
the world, then I'll just do it myself!

After losing his presidential bid, Robertson took a break from predicting the end of the world, but he came back with avengence from 2006-2008. He predicted that multiple disasters would befall the earth during this time, including nuclear war and giant tsunamis destroying the eastern coast of the United States.

God decided to make Robertson look like a total idiot by making sure that none of this happened.  Robertson, however, wasn't deterred. He is now saying that a giant meteor will strike the earth at some point in the near future.  We can completely trust this prediction because he claims to have "done the science on it."

He's also done the science on eating right without giving up the taste!

Alex Jones

Alex Jones is a popular conspiracy talk show host and film maker. His radio broadcasts, internet websites ( and, and his controversial "documentary films" like 2007's Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement have made him a messianic figure to many that believe that society is on the cusp of an imminent collapse...a collapse that he has been proclaiming could happen any day now since 1996.

Jones is normally smart enough not to assign a specific date to his predictions. He is also a master of back pedaling when he gets things wrong.  During the swine flu outbreak in 2009, Jones claimed that the government had created the swine flu and that it was killing off far more people than anyone realized.

Later, when swine flu turned out to not be the giant world ending epidemic that he had predicted, Jones claimed that it was simply a "beta test" for government population control...and an excuse to take our DNA.

If it helps us retrograde the swine flu into better 
tasting bacon, then take away my rights and sign me up.

The best prediction he ever made, however, was one that he did assign a date to: The dreaded Y2K Doomsday scenario. On the eve of the year 2000, Alex Jones did a special broadcast that included claims of missiles being launched at the United States by Russia, nuclear power plants failing all over the world, ATM machines not giving people money, short wave radios going down, and  that more military conflicts were happening right at that moment all over the world than had occurred in 50 years. Here are some of the highlights: 

During this time, Alex Jones apparently forgot that the internet existed and that someone would record what he was saying on the eve of the year 2000. When questioned about his claims in 2010, he claimed that he was just "joking around" and had simply been taken out of context.

If you listen to the first part, I think that even giving the most liberal benefit of the doubt to Alex Jones would still leave you with the conclusion that he was not joking.  Blatantly lying to garner ratings, maybe, but definitely not joking.

David Icke

David Icke is another conspiracy theorist who believes that our entire world is run by a global elite. What no one realizes (except for Icke and his devoted followers, of course) is that this group of "people" that control the world  are actually humanoid lizards.

This cabal of sinister reptilians is populated by many of our world leaders that are somehow able to disguise themselves to look human.

And of course, Peter Parker's former college
professor and nemesis, Curt Connors!

In addition to these cold blooded revelations, David Icke also likes to take a few cracks at predicting the end of the world once a in while. In 1991, Icke predicted that the world would end in 1997 with a rash of earthquakes and floods.  Despite the song 'Barbie Girl' becoming a world wide hit, the end of the world did not come to pass.

Icke later predicted that a magnetic shift in the earth during the year 2012 would completely change the earth as we know it. He was smart enough to remain coy about how devastating this completely change would be; he decided to hedge his bets early and is now predicting that this will happen in 2016.

Ronald Weinland

There really isn't too much to say here.  This poor guy has predicted the end of the world so many times that it's actually pretty sad. In 2008, he claimed that he would stop preaching if he was wrong again, but later decided that incorrectly predicting the end of all things was what he did best and continued.

When you're sitting in a leather chair and 
wearing a suit, anything you say sounds awesome.

For some reason, his church of international followers continues to believe his message and sends donations to help get the world out about the coming apocalypse...that keeps not happening.

While waiting for the end of the world, Weinland bides his time in a very nice home and does battle with the IRS...which really shouldn't be a concern if the world is going to end in May of 2012, which is his latest prediction for the end of days.

So why do these guys do it? Why do they keep predicting the end of the world? Even more puzzling is how they keep getting followers. What type of person follows someone that keeps swinging and missing on such a large scale guess?

Maybe the reason is that some people don't want to wake up and see tomorrow. Perhaps it's just a lot easier to think that the world will end and all your problems that you have right now don't matter.

When you get to that level of despair in your life, common sense and rational thought probably go straight out the window. Still, it's pretty disturbing that these sociopaths just keep revising their doomsday predictions and  accepting donations and followers. Just because people are gullible and/or desperate doesn't mean that they should be taken advantage of.

Now if you'll excuse me, since the world did not end tonight, I'm going to go read up on my college football team's upcoming game. The University of Kentucky athletics director has told us that our current football coach is doing a good job and that he has things on the right track...despite our current terrible season.  For some reason, I desperately want to believe him.

I'm not sure if the players, however, share this belief.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.