Sunday, January 15, 2012


On January 10, 2012, the Doomsday Clock was moved forward. The Clock (a symbol of imminent apocalypse since 1947) now stands at five minutes until midnight.

With the winter solstice of 2012 less than a year away and some people putting forth the theory that the Mayan calendar shows Friday, December 21, 2012, as the end of the world, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the failed doomsday predictions that were proclaimed to be absolute in their accuracy at the time.

Doomsday predictions have been around for many centuries. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say millenniums. No sooner has one prophecy come and gone without the earth coming to an apocalyptic ending than another one pops up to take its place.

Needless to say, so far none of these prophecies have come to fruition. Regardless of the dire predictions and the credentials of the doomsday prophet, the world is still here.

The Prophet Hen Of Leeds, 1806
For the last two thousand years many of the doomsday predictions have been associated with the imminent return of Jesus. One of the strangest is a hen in the English town of Leeds. In 1806 the hen began laying eggs that had "Christ is coming" written on the shell. Many people believed the miracle and claimed the end was at hand—until a curious neighbor watched the hen laying eggs and discovered that the entire thing was a hoax.

The Millerites, April 23, 1843
William Miller, a New England farmer, came to the conclusion that the date God had chosen to destroy the world could be determined by a strict and literal interpretation of scripture. He eventually had thousands of followers known as Millerites who decided the actual date for the end of the world was April 23, 1843. When the date arrived and nothing happened, the group disbanded.

Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
At a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835, Joseph Smith announced he had spoken with God and learned Jesus would return within the next 56 years and immediately afterward the End Times would begin.

Halley's Comet, 1910
In 1881, an astronomer discovered that comet tails include a deadly gas called cyanogen. This was of no particular interest until someone realized that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley's comet in 1910 which would subject everyone on the planet to the deadly gas.

Pat Robertson, 1982
Televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, informed his 700 Club television audience that he knew when the world would end. He guaranteed that by the end of 1982 there would be a judgment on the world.

Heaven's Gate, 1997
In 1997 with the appearance of comet Hale-Bopp, rumors circulated that an alien spacecraft was following the comet and NASA was covering up this fact. A San Diego UFO cult, Heaven's Gate, concluded that this meant the world would end soon. On March 26, 1997, 39 members of the cult committed suicide.

Y2K, January 1, 2000
With the turn of the millennium, rumors were flying fast and furious that the world's computers would fail and what they controlled would cease to function because the computers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the year 1900 and 2000. Catastrophic problems were predicted. However, the new millennium began with only a few minor glitches.

May 5, 2000
And just in case the Y2K bug didn't finish us off on January 1st, the year 2000 had another shot at it. A 1997 book titled 5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster assured us that specific date when the planets would be aligned in the heavens and would result in a global icy death. Guess they forgot about global warming. :)

Nostradamus, July 1999
The writings of Nostradamus have intrigued people for over 400 years. However, the accuracy of his predictions depends on a very flexible interpretation. One of his quatrains said,
The year 1999, seventh month
From the sky will come great king of terror
Many believed this was Nostradamus' vision of Armageddon.

God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008
Ronald Weinland, minister of God's Church, said in his 2006 book that hundreds of millions of people will die and by the end of 2006 there will be a maximum of only two years remaining before the world will be plunged into the worst time in all human history.

And most recently…

Harold Camping, 2011
On his radio program, Harold Camping proclaimed that Judgment Day would be May 21, 2011, and would begin with global earthquakes and a rapture of the faithful. This would be followed by months of catastrophe and the world would end of October 21, 2011.  And again, we're still here.

So now we wait for December 21, 2012…


Harlie Reader said...

Great post Samantha. My husband and I meet on December 31, 1999 after talking on the phone for months. We didn't kiss at midnight but 3 1/2 years later we were married.


Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Samantha! I remember most of the latter ones first hand. I think we'll always have end of the world predictions throughout time. That last one had a lot of air time on the local news. Mostly making fun of the predicition. lol

Maeve said...

Great post, Samantha! I've read Nostradamus' quatrains many times and I think they're much like the bible - can be interpreted in many ways depending on the reader. I guess we're better off if we don't need to worry about when the world is going to end and concentrate on living each day we're given as though it were our last. ;-)

Samantha Gentry said...

Marika: You met on New Year's Eve? That's a great way to start off a new year. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Susan: I think you're right ... we'll have end of the world predictions as long as people are around to make them.

Samantha Gentry said...

Maeve: I agree with you about Nostradamus being interpreted according to what the person doing the interpretation wants to believe. Kind of like reading your horoscrope the next day and being able to look back on the happenings of the previous day and saying "oh, yes." :)

Harlie Reader said...

In person, at a train station because I had Stars Hockey tickets. We had talked on the phone for months before that fateful night. He didn't even try to kiss me that night.

I don't believe in the end of the world stuff. :)

Ilona Fridl said...

There will always be a crack pot boasting that he/she knows when the world will end. Anyway, isn't everyone relieved when the date goes by without anything happening?

Bianca Swan said...

Samantha, I hand it to you--you always have fascinating or amusing topics. Love the we're still here. See you December 22, 2012.

Samantha Gentry said...

Marika: I imagine the world (or life as we know it) will come to an end eventually, but it's certainly not anything I choose to worry about now. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Ilona: You're right about that. There will always be some crackpot claiming to know when the world will end. I don't know about everyone being relieved the next morning ... the crackpot du jour probably isn't too thrilled with the "day after" ridicule. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Bianca: Yep...we'll be around for a while yet. :) "Day After" party on December 22. I'll bring the champagne.

VampedChik said...

I always found this stuff fascinating. My brother was watching this documentary recently and he was telling me that the whole mayan prophecy is based on one piece of pottery that they found. So kinda insane if that's true. But hey maybe it was just the expiration date for whatever was in it? Thanks for sharing!

Samantha Gentry said...

Amber: Your brother (the documentary) was right. The entire Mayan calendar prophecy is one bit of information taken out of context. The Mayans maintained several calendars for different purposes and their calendars represented cycles with each cycle being many (hundreds?) years. When a cycle came to an end, a new cycle would begin. The winter solstice 2012 prophecy is merely the end of one of several simultaneous cycles/calendars before the start of the next cycle.

Paul McDermott said...


* looks nervously over shoulder before continuing*

Your comment (May 5 2000) about Global Warming struck a warning bell for me.

I decided to write a "warning" scenario based on how the actions of humans are encouraging Global Warming and destroying our planet.

UNfortunately: several Incidents which I postulated in my Plotline 'came to pass' in Real Life - AFTER I had written about them.

These include: Volcano eruption/ash clouds over Iceland. Major earthquakes in Haiti & New Zealand.
Forest fires AND severe flooding (Australia).
Earthquakes in NW England
Average 6deg+ summer & winter temps across Europe.
Tsunami leading to nuclear plant disaster (Japan).

ALL these things happened AFTER I had already written them into my (Fictional???) Plotline, and I haven't DARED write the next chapter (which would be Ch.17) for about 3 months now - I'm afraid it might actually HAPPEN!

LOL (or not??)
Paul McD

Samantha Gentry said...

Paul: Wow...that's spooky. It's enough to make you nervous, anxious, concerned, or at the very least wondering if you should write chapter 17! OR you can put a different spin on it and write about something that should happen such as world peace. :)

Thanks for your comment.

P.A.Brown said...

You missed the planetary alliance in the mid-80s. That was supposed to cause havoc on Earth. And of course the first Millennium. The year 999 was also suppose to end the world.

I saw that same Mayan documentary. When I saw the size of the piece of calendar and how obviously it came from a huge stone wheel I laughed. THIS is what they made all these crazy predictions on?

What I've never heard anyone who believes in Armageddon explain why they are paying millions of dollars to people selling them protection. I mean, if the world ends does anyone seriously believe money is going to have any value?

If there are any problems on Dec 21, it will have been caused by believers who may start riots or other nonsense.

Samantha Gentry said...

P.A.: I was just trying to include a cross section. Yep, the first millennium had a lot of people in panic about the end of the world, as did early solar and lunar eclipses before people figured out what they were. There's always someone with a new Armageddon theory ready to "share" it with everyone. :)