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
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17.
From the U.S. Army in Europe website:
Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria.
A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us.
At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account.
Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy.
The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade.
Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families
By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian
Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday.
The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria.
A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
|More News » |