When Doomsday isn’t, believers struggle to cope
2011 05 27
From: MyJoyOnline.com / AP
If you’re reading this, Harold Camping’s predictions that the end of the world would start Saturday (May 21) failed to pan out.
That’s good news for most of us, but Camping and his followers were looking forward to the end. After all, they believed that they were likely to be among the 200 million souls sent to live in paradise forever. So how do believers cope when their doomsday predictions fail?
It depends, said Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal who studies the history of doomsday predictions.
’Consulting The Oracle’ (1884), John William Waterhouse. Priestesses sitting in a ’Temple of Prophesy’.
"If you have a strong leader, the group survives," DiTommaso told LiveScience. "Sometimes the group falls apart. Most often, the answer given by the group is that the prophecy is true, but the interpretation was wrong."
In 1994, Camping predicted a September doomsday, but hedged his bets with a question mark. On his website (familyradio.com), Camping wrote that he had misunderstood a key biblical passage, but since that time, biblical evidence for a 2011 end had "greatly solidified."
Doomsdays without doom
The classic study of "doomsdays gone bad" took place in 1954. A Chicago woman named Dorothy Martin predicted a cataclysmic flood from which a few true believers would be saved by aliens. Martin and her cult, The Seekers, gathered the night before the expected flood to await the flying saucer. Unbeknown to them, however, their group had been infiltrated by psychologist Leon Festinger, who hoped to find out what happens when the rug of people’s beliefs is pulled out from under them.
Festinger’s study, which became the basis of the book "When Prophecy Fails" (Harper-Torchbooks 1956), revealed that as the appointed time passed with no alien visitors, the group sat stunned. But a few hours before dawn, Martin suddenly received a new prophecy, stating that The Seekers had been so devout that God had called off the apocalypse. At that, the group rejoiced — and started calling newspapers to boast of what they’d done. Eventually, the group fell apart. Martin later changed her name to "Sister Thedra" and continued her prophecies.
Other failed doomsday prophets have struggled to keep their followers in line. One self-proclaimed prophet, Mariana Andrada (later known as Mariana La Loca), preached to a gang of followers in the 1880s in the San Joaquin Valley of California, predicting doomsday by 1886. But Andrada was not consistent with her predictions, and believers began to defect. Trying to keep one family from leaving, Andrada told them one of them would die on the journey. Sure enough, the family’s young son soon fell violently ill and passed away. The family accused Andrada of poisoning him. She was arrested and found not guilty, but never returned to preach to her followers.
Searching for explanations
How Camping’s followers will cope with a failed doomsday prediction depends on the structure of the group, said Steve Hassan, a counseling psychologist and cult expert who runs the online Freedom of Mind Resource Center.
"The more people have connections outside of the group, the more likely it is that they’re going to stop looking to [Camping] as the mouth of God on Earth," Hassan told LiveScience. "Information control is one of the most important features of mind control."
In his experience, Hassan said, about a third of believers become disillusioned after a failed prediction, while another third find reason to believe more strongly. The remaining group members fall somewhere in between, he said.
Doomsday groups in history have run a gamut of responses after failed predictions, said Stephen Kent, a sociologist at the University of Alberta who studies new and alternative religions. On occasion, a leader will admit he or she was wrong; other groups will come up with a face-saving explanation. Some groups may blame themselves, rationalizing that their lack of faith caused the failure, Kent told LiveScience. Other groups blame outside forces and redouble their efforts.
"One of the options is for the group to say, ’Society wasn’t ready, Jesus felt there weren’t enough people worthy of rapturing. Hence, we’ve got to go out and convert more people,’" Kent said.
After the apocalypse
Often, a failed prediction leads to splinter groups and re-entrenchment. After Baptist preacher William Miller predicted the end of the world on Oct. 22, 1844 — a date thereafter known as "The Great Disappointment" when nothing happened — his followers struggled to explain their mistake. One subset decided that on that date, Jesus had shifted his location in heaven in preparation to return to Earth. This group later became the Seventh-Day Adventist church.
Sociologists and doomsday experts agree that Camping is likely convinced of doomsday rather than perpetuating a hoax or running a scam. A con artist, Hassan said, would never set himself up for failure by giving a firm date.
A belief in doomsday gives followers a clear sense of the world and their place in it, Kent said. Those comforting beliefs are difficult to maintain after the world fails to end.
"This could be a fairly sad day for these people," Kent said. "There will be some greatly disheartened people who may be terribly confused about what didn’t happen."
Article from: news.myjoyonline.com
Preacher Who Predicted May 21st Doomsday Gives NEW Date
End Times Math: The Equation That Predicts May 21 Judgment Day
Edison’s Predictions for the Year 2011
Canadian Scientists predict DOOM!! in the year 3000
Why Failed Predictions Don’t Stop Apocalypse Forecasters
Perus "shamans" make their "predictions" for 2011
Vanga predicted break out of "Third World War in 2010"
Retired NORAD Officer Predicts A Worldwide UFO Display On October 13, 2010 (Don’t hold your breath)
Arthur C Clarke predicting the future in 1964 (Video)
Dire Predictions from Clif High from the Web Bot Project Concerning BP Oil Volcano
Summer Streets Of Rage Predicted For Europe & U.S. (Didn’t they Say this Last Summer Also?)
Computer Software decodes emotions over the phone, predicts behavior
Human behaviour ’93 per cent predictable’
Derren Brown correctly predicts National Lottery numbers
Solar Cycle 24 predicted to peak in May 2013
Model Predicts Mob Behavior
May 28, 585 B.C.: Predicted Solar Eclipse Stops Battle
Latest News from our Front Page
Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ
The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies.
“GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
|More News » |