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Apocalypse: Failed Predictions/We're Still Here

Updated on February 23, 2014

Apocalypse Predictions

While you were going about your average day, you may not have realized that Saturday, February 22, 2014, marked the predicted date of Viking apocalypse Ragnarok. Of course, modern times have experienced quite a few apocalyptic predictions that riled the itch to seek underground refuge in some, and provoked renewed existentialist curiosities in others. However, at the end of the day the predictions were failed, falsified, or farce, leaving all humankind unscathed and gods unfell.


The sounding of a Horn in York marked the beginning of a Viking apocalypse. The event occurred in November of 2013 and commenced a 100-day countdown meant to finish on Saturday, February 22.

According to Norse legend, the 100 days would see natural disasters of all kinds while a battle of the gods ensued. The battle ends with the fall of several important gods, literally dying and dropping to earth. Next, the whole world submerges in water and a cleansing takes place, killing all of humanity save a man and woman meant to repopulate. And when all is said and done, the waters retreat and the clouds part to reveal a smiley-face sun illuminating a pristine, fertile new world. Sounds like a happy and resolute ending – of course, the two remaining humans are Vikings and all other parties are annihilated.


Unless you’ve spent a good 5 years under a rock, you’ll remember 2012. The Mayan Apocalypse, or Twenty-Twelve, as it was deemed, was the interpretation of the Mayan calendar that predicted the end of the world would occur on December 21, 2012. The date, as we all have heard, marks the end of the Mayan calendar cycle. There was much debate about whether the end of this cycle meant the end of the world, or simply the beginning of a new cycle – and then, whether the new cycle was brought on by destruction of the old world to make way for the new, or simply a fiesta to mark the next cycle.

While many experts stuck to their guns in claiming that this was truly the end, others debated whether the calendars were even read correctly; still others claimed that there was no mention of any sort of event to mark the new cycle. The topic was cause for much contention among experts, and opened the door to a slew of History Channel specials and new conspiracy theories, not to mention a John Cusack movie covering the topic. Off-beat theories varied from 2012 marking the third World War, 2012 marking the year of highest sunspot radiation, and 2012 bringing the extinction of bees – all leading to the world’s ultimate demise. Of course, with much anticipation, the day came and went; it was then reschedule for two days later – but that day, too, came and went.

Skeptics protesting Camping in Hollywood.
Skeptics protesting Camping in Hollywood.

The Camping Rapture

While Harold Camping holds some ground in the evangelist church, gaining notoriety for his sermons and Family Radio Christian broadcasting, his failed apocalypse prediction led many astray and may have granted him the designation of cult leader. The original prediction was stated in his 1992 book 1994? where he mentioned possible dates and figures for the rapture and subsequent apocalypse. As the dates came closer, May 21 and October 21, 2011, respectively, Camping spread the word like wildfire. His belief was that Christians would be saved on May 21 and everyone else and the world they live in would burn and disintegrate on October 21.

Many a crack-pot have similarly described predictions, but Camping already had a following and had the wherewithal to propagate his predictions. Figures show that he spent something on the order of $5 million to campaign the rapture (and save his reputation), while followers spent an additional $2-3 million on billboards, advertising ploys, and commercial air-time. The whole prediction and following was quite a fiasco, if you can recall. Meanwhile, May 21 passed without divine intervention, and Camping admitted that he made a mathematical error, and that both the rapture and the apocalypse would occur simultaneously on October 21. Well, Camping was wrong again, as you may have (correctly) predicted, and his followers dwindled to approximately 25, as his reputation dwindled to approximately none.

Camping's widespread advertising of his predicted events.
Camping's widespread advertising of his predicted events.

Y2K Bug

No apocalyptic list is complete without Y2K. The prediction caused rioting, chaos, stockpiling, and fear. In reality, the Y2K Bug was a programming problem that may have caused many computer glitches. Certainly, it could have changed the way we live, it may have caused power and water outages, and it may have cause economic problems. Unfortunately, media spinning caused the masses to perceive this as a digital apocalypse. Many constructed and stockpiled bomb shelters, while others headed to the desert for underground refuge in fear of a Red Dawn scenario. Take, for example, Norman Feller, who spent 14 years hiding in an underground bunker, riding out the waves of technological apocalypse bombarding the less fortunate, above-grounders. This turned out to be a hoax, but somewhere, someone is likely still hiding in a backyard bomb shelter. In the end, governments spent abominable sums to right the coding problem, an action whose justification is still an issue of debate.


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