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Top-10 Failed Doomsday Predictions of All Time

Let's take the gloom out of the doom

Enough with the fearmongering about December 21, 2012. Remember when the world didn't end those others times, as predicted by Harold Camping? Well, the world probably won't end on December 21, 2012, either. Why? Because we’ve been there, done that with failed doomsday predictions, and -- if history is any indication -- it’s time to stop packing the ark and start appreciating our lives.

Prophets and preachers have been predicting the end of times since the beginning of time, and all of these predictions have one thing in common: They didn’t happen. Our own Master Astrologer Jeff Jawer says 2012 is just a beginning, and not an end at all.

True, it’s important to honor the fact that we all have differing beliefs. Respecting one another’s faith or lack thereof is just good Karma, right? But it’s equally important to not let unhealthy fears interfere with one’s mental health and happiness.

So, let’s take a look at some of the world's most famously failed doomsday predictions to help put things in perspective. Then you can get back to life’s real challenges and triumphs, which is what makes the world so beautiful, right?

Here are the Top 10 failed doomsday predictions of all time:

  • A.D. 79: Mt. Vesuvius -- In A.D. 65, a Roman philosopher predicted the world would go up in smoke and “burn in the universal fire… so when Mount Vesuvius erupted 14 years later, ancient Romans saw it as a sign of the coming apocalypse and fled the city.
  • 1835: The Mormons -- In 1835, Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church, and claimed he knew about the end of the world. Smith told his followers that God had spoken to him, and that the world would face a painful end within the next 56 years. By 1891 that day had not come, and it still hasn’t.
  • 1843: The Millerites – After years of studying the Bible, New England farmer William Miller concluded that God would destroy the world sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. His preaching and publishing gathered thousands of followers, known as the Millerites, who decided the actual end date was April 23, 1843. When the end didn’t come, the group disbanded and some members formed what is now the Seventh Day Adventist church.
  • 1910: Halley's Comet -- In 1881, an astronomer discovered that comet tails include a deadly gas. Later, folks discovered that the Earth would pass through the tail of Halley’s comet in 1910, and speculation began that the planet would be consumed with a deadly gas that would snuff out life on the planet.
  • 1914: Jehovah's Witnesses -- Since being founded in the 1870’s, the Christian offshoot called the Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the world would end in 1914 and handed out religious literature saying so. Since then, they continue to pass out literature saying the world will end soon.
  • 1982: Pat Robertson -- Televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson alarmed many in May of 1980 when he told his 700 Club TV show audience that he knew when the world would end. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world," he said.
  • 1999: Nostradamus -- Filled with riddles and code, the works of Michel de Nostrdame are nearly impossible to translate. That said, one of Nostradamus’ most famous quatrains read "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." Nostradamus believers interpreted this as a vision of Armageddon, which did not come to pass. Other Nostradamus believers continue to think the world will end in 3797.
  • 2000: Y2K -- For much of 1999, panic grew about the possibility that computers might bring about the end of the world when the century came to a close. It was thought that computers might not be able to determine the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates, and that the technology breakdown could cause everything from blackouts to nuclear holocaust. People built bunkers and bought guns, but Jan. 1, 2000 came and went without a hitch.
  • 2000: Planetary Alignment -- Hot on the heels of the Y2K doomsday predictions, author Richard Noone’s book "5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster" worked the world into another state of fear. Noone said the planets would align on May 5, 2000 in a manner that would cause a global, ice-related catastrophe.
  • 2011, The Rapture -- California-based Christian ministry leader Harold Camping has been causing the latest media buzz, narrowing the end of days to May 21, 2011. That’s this Saturday, folks, and you’ve probably seen all the Rapture related ads on the radio, Internet, pamphlets, billboards and bus benches. Try to relax. May 21 is not the end of the world. It’s just the Sun in Gemini.

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9 Comments to "Top-10 Failed Doomsday Predictions of All Time"
The profile picture for Tiffany.
Tiffany says:
Mon, 12/24/2012 - 01:36

Ok, true none of those theories happend, but really who are we to say a comet won't hit tomorrow, or it starts to rain and does't stop untill the whole world is under water? In the next week electricity to the whole world could go out and cause a survival of the fittest family vs family until slowly but surely we kill each other off. Whatever your faith or religion the end is closer than you think. In five minutes you could die so don't take life for granted and don't take your family for granted ether what is given can easily be taken back.

The profile picture for Karen A Kay.
Karen A Kay says:
Fri, 12/21/2012 - 17:09

Thanks for your comment, Adrienne. We put a lot of research into this article and I'm happy to look further into your question about 1974. Either way, we're still here, yay! :) Thanks for reading!

The profile picture for Mdparrott.
Mdparrott says:
Fri, 12/21/2012 - 14:44

I'm glad to say that I never bought into any of this Mayan end-of-the-world "Doomsday" scenario stuf....uh oh...oh no...a...a...a...big red hot fireball is coming right at me!...oh no...oh.....n.......

The profile picture for Adrienne Spano-Carter.
Adrienne Spano-... says:
Fri, 12/21/2012 - 10:30

I think some research on Karen's part is highly recommended. As a histrory professor degreed in religious studies I do much research on the backgorund of religios practices and the reasoning behind those practices. The Jehovah Witnesses did not predict the world to end in 1914, they said that would be the beginning of the "end of times". They never said it was the "end of times". The prediciton date given is 1974 by the Witnesses,

The profile picture for Linda.
Linda says:
Tue, 10/25/2011 - 02:26

Well said Frank!!

The profile picture for Frank.
Frank says:
Sat, 10/22/2011 - 10:38

I wonder if the last of the Mayans passed on December 21.

The profile picture for Frank.
Frank says:
Sat, 10/22/2011 - 10:32

In every moment of every day that passes, somebody steps off of this mortal coil. So, in that moment of that day, somebody's doomsday prediction is correct! Should we live our lives in panic? No. However, until it's our turn to step off said coil, lets be entertained by doomsday sayers!

The profile picture for George Stone.
George Stone says:
Tue, 05/24/2011 - 08:16

Thanks, Karen, for another level-headed take on past and future doomsday threats. The more time I spend on this site the better I'm liking it. I've been doing a little "layman's" research on 2012. Here's my personal take on the subject.

December 21, 2012 – What Can We Expect?

With the excitable media, pop-culture, and the trendy marketplace clambering over some sort of doomsday event, I'd like to offer an alternative take. Many misguided theories and predictions are based on the Mayan Calendar ending on 12/21/2012. What the majority fails to understand, partially because it is being ignored by sensationalists, is that the Mayan Long Count Calendar is cyclical, unlike our Gregorian Calendar which is linear. The so-called "end date" is simply when the Long Count Calendar rolls back to zero, much like an odometer. However, the end of the current World Age (13 Baktun)* does indicate a cultural change. A paradigm shift toward transformation and renewal. A time when the Perennial Philosophy** is revisited. It's no accident that this end of cycle date falls on the winter solstice, symbolizing a rebirth of The Sun. Simply stated, it's a time to go within ourselves to find our inner wisdom that leads to peace of mind, unlike the prevailing mode of materialism and uber-greed as the path to salvation. (How many wealthy people do you know who are really happy?) The ground will once again become fertile for a new understanding that self-service, fear based religion, power politics and egomania must take a back seat in favor of service to the whole. This will not happen overnight. This is not an event but a process, one that any person can start at any time, even today. Further, as free-willed creatures, this shift will be a personal choice. Nothing will be forced upon us. But my feeling is, as the years proceeding 2012 tick by, that those who choose to operate from the old paradigm of fear, corruption, and grotesque disregard for fellow beings will find themselves lonely and isolated in a world where tired ideologies have collapsed beneath the weight their own hubris, giving way to community consciousness as the new normal.

–George Stone, Minneapolis, MN

*John Major Jenkins, The 2012 Story (2009)
The 13 Baktun end date can be written as either, or Counting right to left, time is recorded as: Kin (1 day) Uinal, Kun, Katun and Baktun. All periods are on a base-20 count, so 20 Kin = 1 Uinal, except for the Uinal which is base-18, so 18 Uinal = 1 Kun, and the Baktun which is base-13, so 13 Baktun = a World Age, equal to 5,125.36 years. Hence, December 20, 2012 will read

** www.perennial.org
Philosophia Perennis – the phrase was coined by Leibniz; but the thing – the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being – the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples, [and at the core of] every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in [every spiritual tradition.] Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

The profile picture for Kristi Tuso.
Kristi Tuso says:
Mon, 05/23/2011 - 13:48

Misunderstandings about the shifting energy patterns and change. A higher consiousness and enligjtment is difficult for some to understand. That these changes are for a positive change leads others to be a skeptic (o ye of little faith.)

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