Nature has a habit of playing funny games with us. When it comes to predicting the weather we do a pretty half arsed job. But we’re equally crap at predicting events that will shatter the Earth’s crust and send all humanity plunging into a searing inferno from which there’s no return.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that all those self-proclaimed oracles are a few pints short of a keg.
Let’s take a look at some of the, ‘guaranteed, 100% bona fide portents of death’ that, fortunately, never came to a cataclysmic fruition.
The Mayan End of the World Prediction
Apparently, the Mayans were a pretty clever bunch of dudes and lady-dudes. They built an empire, created laws and predicted lots of stuff that came to be.
Take the Spanish
invasion and wholesale rape tour of South America as a prime example. It was bad enough that the Mayan mystics predicted, and allowed, the arrival of hundreds of gold huntin sailors on their shores. What’s even worse is that they failed to put up any resistance to annihilation of their culture through a combination of genocide, tuberculosis and rampant venereal disease.
Notch one up to stupidity.
One of the very last predictions to come from the crumbling, syphilitic remnants of the Mayan empire was a prophecy that would, allegedly, usher in the very end of the world.
On December 31st 2012, all humanity would be scoured from the face of the Earth. The cause? Famine, strife and natural disasters followed ultimately by a great fire that cleanses the planet of humans. In other words, pretty much the same as any other prediction.
The fact that you’re still alive and reading this means that, like a lot of their other end of the world predictions, the Mayans got this one way wrong. In fact, when questioned, the surviving descendants of these once mighty badasses said, “You really believed that fucked up end of the world shit? Wow, what are you guys on?”
Nostradamus Apocalyptic Visions
Nostradamus: master of the dark art of prophecy or simply a man with a very vivid imagination who smoked an awfully large amount of mind bending drugs? Take your pick.
Over the years, this 16th century astronomer has been credited with predicting some pretty mind blowing events. The rise and fall of
Charlie Chaplin Hitler is one that most believers like to make a song and dance about. More recently, it’s been suggested that he foresaw 9/11. Even though he didn’t know what a skyscraper was. Or that jet passenger aeroplanes hadn’t been invented.
But for every remotely accurate prediction produced by Nostradamus there were at least 5 that fell flat on their face.
In the 1500’s, the French seer went one step further with his lucid ramblings and foretold of mankind’s destruction in a fiery inferno. Modern day nutters and fringe lunatics suggested that, at some point in 1999, we could expect our children to have about 100 years of fun building snowmen and sledging down hill in the resulting nuclear winter.
The human race did a collective crap on this prediction by waking up and enjoying a hearty breakfast on January 1st 2000. The obvious answer to this blip is that mystics don’t always get the dates right but the event will happen. Cue the perfect opportunity to shift the dates further into the future and make more money from selling books about Earth’s demise.
Nostradamus did for crappy predictions what George Bush did for America’s good name in diplomacy.
Millers Great Disappointment
William Miller, Baptist preacher, was well known for his fire and brimstone sermons. He even took to labeling humanity as either good virgins or bad virgins. Personally, I prefer the latter.
Unsurprisingly, like many fantasists with too much faith in their own ability to reveal the future of our race, Miller decided to throw in his lot with the doom mongers. Between the years of 1831 and 1844 he predicted the demise of most of humanity. Good virgins would be lifted up to salvation and bad virgins would be locked in the cellar with whips and chains… hmmm.
Have you ever watched a first time poker player as they fumble through a game whilst throwing all caution (and their money) to the wind? Then you already know what’s coming.
On October 28th 1844, thousands of Miller’s followers sat on their suitcases and waited for impending doom. This hunger for oblivion wasn’t sated. On the October 29th 1844 they woke up looking pretty pissed. The first and most obvious result of this catastrophic failure to be elevated to heaven was a changing of mankind’s date with destiny.
When this second dose of destruction failed to materialise many of Miller’s follower’s defected to other equally dubious cults. These lesser known groups continued to foretell of Earth’s destruction way, way in the future. At a time when the contemporary members were dead. See where this is going?
St Peter Gets In On The Apocalypse Rumours
Jesus, son of the God, is a name that just about every person on the planet probably knows. But this was a man know for preaching love and peace rather than hell on Earth until…
He addressed a crowd with these words, “Verily I say to you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Now, if you’re like me you just read that and thought, ‘WTF?” that’s because we’re not learned or one of his disciples.
But if your name is St. Peter then you’ve already formed an opinion: Jesus has just foretold the Apocalypse – in your time. Holy religious artefact’s (because you don’t swear).
The date was 60 CE (that’s a bit like blastoff plus one in the Julian calendar) and Jesus has just uttered these immortal lines when St. Peter took fright. Fearing that he wasn’t holy enough to make it into Paradise he kicked off a mission to purge all mankind of sin (including his, apparently, very unclean conscience). To be fair, all the ensuing panic probably sent quite a few people to meet their maker but not on the epic scale that Peter had anticipated.
When the end of the world failed to consume every man and his dog is a blaze of agonising, fiery death, life went back to normal. Whoever said we’re not resilient?
Harold Camping’s Many Predictions
If you’re wondering who Harold Camping is then you’re in the same boat as most of the rest of your fellow humans. Camping is a Christian preacher, radio host and predictor of doom whose premonitions have an eery habit of not coming true.
His first stab at becoming the man in know was back in 1994. The then 73 year old preacher decided that at precisely 6 PM the lights would go out. Permanently. Across the globe. Not your average power failure but more like ‘Jesus is back and he’s just pulled the switch on mankind’s life support machine’. At this precise moment, the righteous (not self righteous – don’t get excited) would be lifted up to heaven.
I’m not sure if Camping was suggesting a mass helicopter lift to Paradise or some kind of divine tornado that sucked all the good girls and boys up to God’s warm embrace but he was wrong. Just after the clock finishing striking 6 anyone that knew of him and his demented ramblings collectively laughed at the rather embarrassed holy man.
Undeterred, Harold decided that he may have got his timings a little wrong. He starting circulating a new date for imminent doom – May 22 2011. The day came and went. Now regarded as simply insane, Camping continued on his merry way, advising anyone that would listen of ways to avoid being sent to hell.
This advice normally consisted of repenting until your eyes bled and feeding the multimillionaire’s ministry with money.