Some Doomsday predictions are based on mystical and astrological omens, while others are set up on technological half-truths and scientific misunderstandings. All of them have failed to come true, making Doomsday the most common non-event in history. The most recent was supposed to take place May 21st, 2011 but, as you may have noticed, the world is not crumbling around us.
According to Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, May 21st was to mark the beginning of the end. He predicted that the world would be engulfed by earthquakes and all humanity would perish by October 21, 2011- except for three percent of the population that would be spared by the rapture.
This is not the first time Camping has been wrong about the end of the world. He originally predicted that the world would end September 6, 1994. When that didn't work out, Camping admitted that he was mistaken but then went on to predict this second end of the world. Camping was slow to make a statement this time around, saying that he was flabbergasted and looking for answers.
Camping should forget about answers and start with an apology instead, because while the world did not end, there have been some very real consequences for those left behind.
Several supporters of Camping spent their entire life savings propagating the prediction. Project Caravan had several men and women leave their jobs and families to travel across America to spread the "awesome news" of Camping's rapture. Massive billboard and ad campaigns were launched around the world-- both entirely funded by Camping's supporters. Others who took Camping's warnings to heart were concerned that their pets would suffer in the coming apocalypse and chose to euthanize them before the 21st.
It is worth noting that Camping didn't spend all of the money donated, but refuses to reimburse anyone. He claims that the money will still be used to prepare for the end times but he also said he will stop campaigning.
While the entire event has an air of ridiculousness about it, people all too often fall for such things. One need only visit a local bookstore to see how big the end of the world prediction business is.
December 21st, 2012 is one popular choice, said to be the day the ancient Mayans chose for the end of the world.
While the Mayan Doomsday has a larger following than the one proposed by Camping, it is based on equally flimsy evidence. The modern Maya certainly are not concerned about it and archaeologists, astronomers and various other scholars agree that the entire notion is nonsense-- despite what History Channel specials may lead you to believe. Even after 2012 passes without an apocalyptic end to humanity there will continue to be various charlatans and snake oil salespeople ready to take advantage of scared people.
While the world will almost certainly end at some time in the future, you should always approach those who would pinpoint the date of destruction with a healthy dose of skepticism.