Credit: Tropical Press Agency/Getty Images
We hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving, because it’ll be your last if the world ends on December 21, 2012, as the Mayan Long Count calendar might predict. Before you stock up on canned food and invite friends to your underground bunker, however, it’s probably worthwhile to reflect on some previous doomsday predictions that didn’t quite pan out.
1. Dorothy Martin
A Chicago housewife who received messages from the planet Clarion, Martin–later known as “Marian Keech” in a famous case study–predicted that a catastrophic flood would arrive on December 21, 1954. (December 21 is a popular day for doomsayers.) Martin and her followers weren’t too worried, though, because a friendly alien would take them away in a spaceship.
When neither the natural disaster nor the UFO showed up, Martin conveniently got another message from Clarion: God had called off the flood while waiting for the alien to show up. Close call!
2. Hon-Ming Chen
Martin wasn’t the only person who believed that flying saucers would rescue a select few from the apocalypse. Hon-Ming Chen convinced his followers that God would appear on a single television channel on March 31, 1998. (The Almighty did not specify which would be his chosen network.) God would then come to Garland, Texas in a spaceship to rescue Chen and his followers before the end of the world.
But TV stuck to its regular schedule. Chen felt so bad about it that he offered to be stoned to death.
3. Harold Camping
At least this guy doesn’t believe in spaceships. Camping predicted that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, followed by the end of the world on October 21, 2011. We’re pretty sure that we’re still here.
Many people feared that the world would plunge into chaos on January 1, 2000 because computer calendars weren’t programmed correctly. Governments and corporations worldwide updated their software, averting catastrophe. But 150 slot machines at a Delaware racetrack stopped working, which caused gamblers to briefly keep their money.
5. Large Hadron Collider
Actual scientists predicted this apocalypse! The Large Hadron Collider is the largest particle accelerator in the world, built to recreate the Big Bang. Some experts believed that it would create a black hole, destroying the earth. The good news is that it (probably) only has a 1 in 50 million chance of doing so. Kinda like the lottery, except it kills everyone. We like those odds!