ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Failed Doomsday Predictions Throughout History

Updated on December 21, 2012
Cathedral ceiling painting depicting a biblical Armageddon
Cathedral ceiling painting depicting a biblical Armageddon | Source
Painting depicting an angel from the Book of Revelation.
Painting depicting an angel from the Book of Revelation. | Source
Depiction of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse from the Book of Revelation.
Depiction of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse from the Book of Revelation. | Source
William Miller's failed prediction led to The Great Disappointment.
William Miller's failed prediction led to The Great Disappointment. | Source
A billboard advertising Harold Camping's prediction for the end of the world.
A billboard advertising Harold Camping's prediction for the end of the world. | Source
The Mayan calendar supposedly predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012.
The Mayan calendar supposedly predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012. | Source

"It's the end of the world as we know it...

Fears of Armageddon have bedeviled humanity for centuries. Many would-be seers have tried and failed to predict when the world would end, embarrassing themselves and disappointing their followers. With December 21, 2012 passing uneventfully, it seems like a good time to look back at some failed Doomsday predictions from the past. Here is a small sample of some of the most notable doomsday predictions of the past two hundred-plus years.

1806 – A town in England was home to a very unusual prophet in the early nineteenth century. Many so-called psychics have predicted the end of the world over the years, but only one hen has attempted the feat. The Prophet Hen of Leeds laid eggs with the words “Christ is coming” written on them. Although a specific date was not given, it was widely assumed that the Second Coming would occur by the end of that year. Was this a sign from God, or merely a hoax? Obviously, it proved to be the latter. A local man had stolen the eggs, written the prophecy, and then reinserted them into the hen.

October 22, 1844 – Baptist preacher William Miller believed that the apocalypse was imminent. His interpretation of the Biblical scripture led him to predict, and later revise, several dates for when Armageddon would occur. He finally settled on 10/22/1884. His followers, the Millerites, fervently waited for this date, hoping to witness the second coming of Jesus Christ and ascend with him into Heaven. When this did not occur, the Millerites were crushed. Most of them became disillusioned and left the group. The incident became known as The Great Disappointment. Miller himself continued to believe that the apocalypse was right around the corner until his death in 1849.

February 13, 1925 – Margaret Rowen, a Seventh Day Adventist, claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to her and warned her that the apocalypse would occur on this date. She later attempted to murder a man who tried to discredit her.

1936 – The creator of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, initially believed that the world would end during this year. Like many others, he later revised his predictions, only to be proven wrong again. He made several other false predictions over the years during his career as a televangelist.

December 21, 1954 – A cult led by an Illinois housewife named Dorothy Martin claimed that the world would be destroyed by a massive flood on this day. Martin claimed to be able to communicate with beings from another planet through the practice of automatic writing. She told her followers that they would be saved from death by the aliens, who would whisk them away in a UFO. Martin’s believers sold their possessions, gave away their life savings, and even separated from their non-believing spouses in preparation for their intergalactic journey. After the flood failed to occur, Martin took credit, claiming that she and her followers had convinced God to spare the Earth.

February 4, 1962 – Psychic astrologer Jean Dixon claimed that a planetary alignment would destroy the Earth on this date. Dixon later revised her prediction to 2020, when she claimed that Jesus Christ would return to Earth to fight Satan and his minions.

March 26, 1997 – Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult, predicted that civilization would end on this day. He and his followers believed that a UFO was trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet and would soon arrive on Earth. All 39 members of the cult, including Applewhite himself, committed suicide at the same time. They believed that death would elevate themselves to a new level of consciousness and allow them to board the extraterrestrial spacecraft.

January 1, 2000 – Throughout the ‘90s, speculation grew that a catastrophic event would occur at the beginning of the new millennium. Bookstores were filled with books about “Y2K”, the computer meltdown that would supposedly destroy civilization. Several psychics and religious figures made apocalyptic predictions as well. Predictions of impending doom were everywhere. Obviously, it was much ado about nothing (some minor computer glitches aside) and Y2K was quickly forgotten.

May 21, 2011 – The world was going to end on this date. Evangelical radio host Harold Camping was sure of it. He was so certain that he created a widespread media campaign featuring billboards and signs proclaiming the approaching apocalypse. Some believers even sold all of their possessions in anticipation of the coming rapture. Instead, the usual pattern of disillusionment and anger occurred after 5/21/11 passed without incident. Camping then revised his prediction to October 21, 2011. When that date also failed to pan out, he announced that he would not be making any further predictions.

December 21, 2012 – There was going to be an alien invasion on this date. Or the Earth would be swallowed by a black hole. Or a huge asteroid would destroy our planet. Supposedly, the ancient Mayan calendar foretold the end of the world, or at least the beginning of a new era, on 12/21/12. Despite the discovery that the Mayan calendar actually extends beyond this date, fears about the apocalypse persisted. To the relief of some (and the disappointment of others) it turned out to be just another ordinary Friday.

...and I feel fine."


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Miller2232 profile image

      Sinclair Miller III 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Its seems to be traditional for some scientists or someone else to come to the media and predict when the world is going to end. All I have to say is if the world is to end, so be it.

    • nanderson500 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Haha yeah luckily you were able to go to McFarley's! Glad you enjoyed the hub, I wonder what the next prediction will be.

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 

      5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Thanks for sharing this interesting hub. I remember several of the more recent predictions. My brother and his wife were in town visiting the week of the October 2011 prediction. When we made plans for that day, he joked about it: "If the world doesn't end, we'll meet at McFarley's." Had the world ended, we would've had to find another venue! ;)

    • nanderson500 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thanks Carol! Yep, no doomsday yet! We'll keep our fingers crossed!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      So far so good and we are all here intact. Thanks for sharing all the failed predictions..Just glad they failed and thanks for all the research you did...just one of many excellent hubs.

    • nanderson500 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thank you! Yeah I am going to that game. Should be interesting!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Very interesting, nanderson500. I'm glad we'll be able to watch the San Francisco vs. Seattle football game on Sunday night. : )

      Great job of researching and writing!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)