The History of the End of the World: Mayans and Other Silly Apocalypse Predictions

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Do you feel duped about yet another end of the world prediction? December 21, 2012, came and passed (see our live blog of it) without an incident. The world did not end, and now everyone realizes that the end of the Mayan Calendar is a bit like December 31, 2012. I personally failed to get the official name of Pound a Mayan Day in the Library of Congress as the official name of all future December 22 dates, but I have found many other apocalypse predictions that are equally as silly (and sometimes tragic).

Before you go looking for Mayan descendents to pound on, the real joke is on you if you really were giving this more than a laugh. For starters, even a recent magazine dedicated to Doomsday stories called Apocalyptic Prophecies panned the notion that the world was going to end on December 21. We have also yet to meet anyone who has claimed that we are now in the enlightened age.

We have looked into many of the recent silly predictions of the end of the world. Some of you may call it the second coming, the apocalypse, the rapture, the end of times, doomsday and other names.

Heaven’s Gate turned out to be a tragedy, led by a mad man and followed by many of questionable sanity. This was a San Diego-based cult (or religion). In March of 1997 police found 39 dead bodies of members who committed suicide so that they could catch a ride on a space ship that was following the notorious Hale-Bopp Comet, so that these people’s spirits could ride away avoid a “recycling” of the earth. These people basically took a mix of drugs and alcohol before inducing asphyxiation so they could escape. They escaped, if you want to call it that.

Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world too many times, even if once is enough. He predicted that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, followed by the Apocalypse on October 21, 2011. It is now December of 2012 and we are all still here. He apparently has retired from Family Radio, although his “messages” are still all over the Radio Station’s website.

What about the Branch Davidians under David Koresh? This ATF standoff in Waco, Texas, left more than 80 dead that also included women and children. The apocalypse that Koresh predicted was going to start in the Holy Land was magically moved to Waco. Somehow, Koresh used his charm to not only convince his followers of the apocalypse, but also that he was the living prophet, who could also pick the women for his harem regardless of age and status. This case was the apocalypse, but only for 80 or so people rather than the billions of the rest of us.

Then there is the case of Charles Mason and “The Family.” Manson duped a bunch of followers into believing that a cataclysmic race war between blacks and whites was imminent. Some followers considered him a prophet, and Manson supposedly learned of this great coming war through coded messages in a music album from The Beatles. Manson wanted this war so badly that he even made plans for his followers to go on a murder rampage. This was where “helter skelter” became a household term, all in the effort to jump-start the race war, as Manson wanted the blame to fall on the blacks for high-profile murders. Taxpayers have been forced to keep Manson alive for more than 40 years.

There have been many others calling for the end of the world. We are still here, but here were some of the genius rays of insight:

  • 1954: UFO-cult Brotherhood of the Seven Rays’ leader Dorothy Martin used December 21 of that year to predict that a global flood was going to end the world.
  • 1973: David (or Moses) Berg predicted that the United States was going to be destroyed that year by Comet Kohoutek. He again failed in his predictions of the Tribulation from 1989 to 1993.
  • 1998-2000: Too many predictions to count about the end of the world for the millennium change in the year 2000. Even Sir Isaac Newton has predictions around the year 2,000 with an ultimate demise of the earth decades later.

The prediction of the end of the world, the end of an era or the end of life as we know it are nothing new. Nostradamus is only one of many who claimed to have visions of the future. For most of us, this world is going to end this century. For us at any rate, while our kids and grandchildren live on.

If you feel like you were duped by the Mayan Calendar, don’t worry because there are two more prophecies coming up. Some Hindu scholars believe that Kali is about to return and wreck us all. Then there is the I Ching prophecy that was supposedly on December 21 too. But what if the translation of the calendars were just off rather than just plain wrong? More prophecies are still out there for us. Nostradamus readers have the end of the world coming in the year 3,790. If you haven’t started preparing now, it is OK because you still have plenty of time.

When you hear the next prediction about the end of the world, you might find yourself questioning the right to free speech.

JON C. OGG

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