Remember when everyone thought the apocalypse would happen in the year 2000, like Nostradamus (sort of) said? Or when people stocked up on canned food and ammo for New Years 2012, fearing the end of the Mayan Calendar? Failed doomsday predictions are about as old as history itself, and way too many people have fallen for them.
Here’s a list of my favorite prophecies of end times that (thankfully) never came to fruition:
- 1806 CE: The prophet hen of Leeds – As the strange story goes, a hen in the English town of Leeds began laying eggs with some prophetic words on them: “Christ is coming.” Doomsday frenzy ensued, until the magic eggs were exposed as a hoax.
- 2011 CE: The killer earthquake apocalypse(s) – Good old Harold Camping, a radio preacher, said the world would end on May 21, 2011. He predicted a string of massive earthquakes, followed by the Judgement Day of Christian myth. When this didn’t happen, Camping changed the date to October 21 — but still no dice. He spent millions of advertising dollars urging Americans to prepare for judgement…but as we know, money can’t buy truth.
- 500 CE: The mystery of Noah’s ark – Not one, but three would-be prophets (Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus and Irenaeus) predicted this date as the time Jesus would return — one of them used the dimensions of Noah’s Ark as proof.
- 1,000 CE: Millennium apocalypse– Even Pope Sylvester II said the world would end at the close of the first millennium. There were riots in Europe, and some people even embarked on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem in anticipation.
- 634 BCE: The end of Rome – Many Romans thought this would be their city’s final year, based on a myth about 12 eagles revealing a secret number to Romulus. Sure, makes sense.
- 1524 CE: The mass exodus of London – Based on dubious astrology, Londoners predicted a massive flood that would end the world. Twenty-thousand people were convinced enough to seek high ground on February 1, the predicted doomsday date.
- 1658 CE: The Columbus prediction – Christopher Columbus — yep, the same explorer who sailed to America but thought he was in the Indies — predicted that the world would end after 7,000 years of existence. Because he thought the world began in 5343 BCE, 1658 would have seen the apocalypse by his measure.
- Circa 1891: The Mormon apocalypse – Joseph Smith — who wrote the Book of Mormon from golden plates he said god gave him, but wouldn’t let him show anyone else — predicted the world would end when Jesus returned within 56 years. He said that in 1835.
- 1910 CE: Haley’s Comet – An astronomer predicted that the comet would “impregnate [our] atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” Ever to make a buck, some folks sold “comet pills” that would supposedly protect people from the toxic gases.
- 1941 CE: The Jehovah’s Witness apocalypse –Watchtower spoke of riding out the remaining months before the armageddon, and people were urged to wait until Judgement Day to have children.
- 1982 CE: The Pat Robertson prediction – On his show The 700 Club, Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson said, “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world.” More than 30 years later, his show is still on the air, duping people with more scare tactics and sketchy logic.