Woke up, got out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs
And drank a cup
Lennon & McCartney
I knew all was well when the garbagemen began ringing their bell to alert us of their coming – at 7 a.m., two hours early.
The Mayan calendar doesn’t actually predict the end of everything; it predicts the beginning of another era, much like the precession of the sun announced the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The Mayans were very clever in their measurement of time and the durations of various measurements are extremely long. A b’ak’tun is 144,000 days, while the longest measurement, an Alautun, is 63,081,429 solar years.
I was interested in the Mayan calendar interpretations and their sources. One of the things I checked, of course, was Wikipedia where I learned:
David Morrison attributes the rise of the solar storm idea to physicist and science popularizer Michio Kaku, who claimed in an interview with Fox News that a solar peak in 2012 could be disastrous for orbiting satellites.
How We Got Here
Fox News? The bastion of scientific research and scholarship? Rumor has it that the network is trying to develop an equation that shows rising worldwide population is directly proportional to a geometrically increasing stork population, which as almost everyone knows, is the result of Barack O’bama having been re-elected president of the United States of America. Due to O’bama’s alleged socialist policies, excess estrogen (from easily available birth control) has flowed into wildlife refuges where the storks winter. The male storks have become both less aggressive and more home-oriented, thus having more time to reproduce while the females have become more interested in bedding down. Republican strategies to combat this include privatizing the refuges so that investment bankers can build third homes to the ease their stress from diverting public funds into holiday bonuses.
Fox takes this project very seriously and has sent art teachers into homes, parochial and private schools (none of its viewers have children attending public school) to teach “little children” (evidently big children are too clumsy to manipulate a crayon) how to draw storks carrying babies. Befitting the Official Fox View of the Universe, storks are generally drawn all-white, carrying a Caucasian baby without genitalia, wrapped in a cloth diaper that is color-coded for gender. Signage, if any, is in English. Underwriting has been generously provided by the Victoria’s Secret School of Broadcast Journalism. Despite the protests of the National Rifle Association, there is strong support, especially from right-to-life groups, for making the stork national co-bird (with the Bald Eagle) and protecting it from hunters.
And How We’ll Leave: The Falling Sky
Many have predicted the demise of the world as we know it, and the time period between World War II and 2012 has been a particularly fecund target. Among those who have suggested an end to life as we know it during that time period are:
Men, extant: Harold Camping (4), Hal Lindsey (3), Pat Robertson (2), Ronald Weinland (2), Hon-Ming Chen (2), Charles Manson, Chuck Smith, John Gribbin & Stephen Plagemann, Benjamin Creme, Lee Jang Rim, Neal Chase, Sheldon Nidle, Texe Marrs, Ed Dobson, Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins, James Harmston, Jose Luis de Jesus, Noah Hutchings, Louis Farrakhan, Rollen Stewart,
Men, deceased: Herbert W. Armstrong (4) , Lester Sumrall (2) , David Berg (2) , Leland Jensen (2) , Edgar C. Whisenant (2) , Peter Olivi , Nostradamus , James Ussher , Isaac Newton , Jonathan Edwards , Timothy Dwight IV , John Wroe , George Williams , John Ballou Newbrough , William M. Branham , James Gordon Lindsay , Jim Jones , George Van Tassel , Edgar Cayce , The Amazing Criswell , Marshall Applewhite , Joseph Kibweteere , Charles Berlitz , Jerry Falwell, Sr. , José Argüelles , Sun Myung Moon , Grant Jeffrey 
Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses (3), Aum Shinrikyo, House of Yahweh, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Seventh-day Adventists (formerly the Millerites, but not the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists, nor the Branch Davidians), Nuwaubian Nation
Women, extant: Nancy Lieder, Credonia Mwerinde, Tynetta Muhammad,
Women, deceased: Jeanne Dixon (2) , Helena Blavatsky , Dorothy Martin , Florence Houteff [date?], Ruth Montgomery While many forecasters are deceased, humankind, but not they, has somehow managed to go on in spite of their predictions for the end of life as we know it.
Note: there is an inexplicable gap (1891 to 1965) in deaths among the female and male prognosticators. Obvious woo-woo factor at work during that time period.
Note also how many fewer women prognosticators! By not dallying in this ludicrous activity women again show superior intelligence.
A total of 82 predictions for the time period. Christians lead the way with 52 including six from ghosts from the long-ago past (Sir Isaac Newton, Timothy Dwight, John Ballou Newbrough, Jonathan Edwards, Peter Olivi and James Ussher).
Groups that originated from William Miller’s belief in the Second Advent of Jesus have been severely hampered by their lack of predictive success; whether they be Millerites (wrong twice in 1843 and twice again in 1844), Seventh Day Adventists who missed in 1874 and 1999, or individuals such as Margaret Rowen in 1925 and Florence Houteff (of the General Association of Davidian Seventh-day Adventists) in 1959.
If we include predictions for the end to have occurred in both the 19th and 20th centuries then the all-time leader for failed predictions has been the Bible Student movement (1874-1925) which was wrong nine times before splintering into several groups, one of which became the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watch Tower Society (which started being wrong with its own predictions in 1941 and most recently 1999).
The years 1874 and 1925 are of interest because both the Adventist and Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong for those years.
Among the end-of-the-world scenarists have been 18 authors, entertainers, non-Christian religious leaders and various sects, one mass murderer (Charles Manson), four religious leaders who led their disciples into mass-suicide (Marshall Applewhite, Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere and Jim Jones) and one who was foiled in doing so by the South Korean police (Lee Jang Rim), two members of the Nation of Islam, one terrorist organization (the Aleph), and one language profiteer (Charles Berlitz). Of course, no list would be complete without Nostradamus.
While Christians find end-of-the-world get-togethers valuable (for instance Seoul in 1992) I was not able to find any Buddhist gatherings for such events and there is a strong absence of Jews from the doomsday forecasting business. English seems to be the language of choice for doom, perhaps because so many of the Armageddon prophets are American televangelists and theological entrepreneurs who need to jump-start their businesses.
Leading individual wrong-sayers are Harold Camping and Herbert W. Armstrong, each with four incorrect predictions. If Armstrong can do something posthumously, he could take sole possession of the lead. Camping may have lost his zeal for predictions, having missed in a big way in 1994 and then in a really bigger way in 2011 when 6 p.m. came and went around the world on May 21 with no show from those upstairs and – as far as I know – none of the 200 million who were to have been raptured have been snatched and reported missing.
Pat Robertson has only taken two shots at the title and Jerry Falwell just one. I think they’re too busy with other things these days to worry about predicting the end of mankind. And I think they’ve been upstaged by the Rapturists, who offer so much more in their vision of the end.
Hal Lindsey with his three predictions is also in a very strong position to take the lead. A prolific author with titles that drip doom, his background augurs well for additional predictions, so it’s my prediction that Lindsey ends up the champion. Here’s a partial list of Lindsey’s work:
- The Late, Great Planet Earth
- The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon
- The Final Battle
- The Terminal Generation
- Planet Earth: The Final Chapter
- Apocalypse Code
- Vanished into Thin Air: the Hope of Every Believer
Included in the 82 predictions are two for the 23rd century C.E. One is from Orthodox Judaism which puts the end at 2240 and there is a reading from the Qu’ran that puts the end 40 years later in 2280.
If you put your trust in science and not religion, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a really long time for doomsday. One prediction is that in half a billion years (about 8 Alautun) there won’t be enough carbon dioxide to sustain life. Another says that in another half-billion years the Earth will be too hot to sustain life as a result of the sun’s actions. Yet another says that in 5 billion years (and there seems to be some agreement on this) the sun will become a red giant and do the Earth in. The ultimate? The fate of the universe: in 10 raised to the 100th power years it has been suggested the universe will not be able to sustain motion or life due to heat death.
That kind of talk just doesn’t sell books.