Failed Predictions for The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)
2007 – Friday the 13th of April - An un-named gambler placed a £10 bet at
10,000/1 with Ladbrokes, the bookmakers, that the world would end on that day.
It is unclear how he expected to collect.*
The world seemed to be in an utter panic due to countless books and hucksters.
TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It) would be caused by or was
predicted by many means, including
Y2K – using numbers and numerology
Y2K computer failure
Mis-interpretation of the Christian faith and Bible
Positions of planets
Scenarios varied; many included worldwide collapse
of economies and of governments at the best and the incineration
of billions of people at the worst.
Some of the major prophesiers were:
Confucius (probably mis-quoted)
Elizabeth Seaton, early 1800’s
Hal Lindsey (no longer predicing TEOTWWAWKI but he did predict
Armageddon to begin in 2000)
And many, many more.
For a fascinating listing see
A typical year for TEOTWAWKI predictors, with fewer predictions that 2000.
Predictions were based on numerology (1999 upside-down looks sort of like
666), planetary axis reversals, and various religious groups.
1997 was another typical year. There were the routine claims of
impending doom, mostly due to religious-misinterpretations and to conspiracies.
Some of the more interesting ones included:
1997 is 1331 minus 666, and…
Members of the International Association of Psychics had a vision
of this year being TEOTWAWKI. The vision was shared by
92% of the 120,000 members. Mass hallucination?
1995 was a special year for TEOTWAWKI fans as there were NO major
predictions for the world to end that year. Sure enough, it didn’t.
Since most years have a steady stream of minor predictors and books saying
that this will indeed by the year, let’s skip past them to the major (missed)
David Koresch predicted that Armageddon would begin that year and the world
would begin to end. He was partly correct. The fierce, one-sided attack at Waco
brought the world to an end for 55 of his followers and 21 of their children.
1988 was a banner year for End-of-the-Worlders, and a profitable one too.
NASA scientist Edgar Whisenaut wrote a book predicting the rapture
In 1988. Selling 4 million copies it made him wildly rich.
One interpretation of Nostradamus predicted a major earthquake in
LA, but not quite the End of the Entire World. LA did not shake.
Hal Lindsey sold 28 million of his books predicting 1988 as the end.
That’s a ot of money changing hands.
1985 – Jean Dixon predicted a comet would strike the Earth in the mid-80’s. She
knew where it would hit but would not tell. She sold a lot of books too.
1982 – Pat Robertson predicts 1982 as the end. He’s still making
1970’s – A typical Herbert W. Armstrong prediction “it is the coming dry cycle
that ... ought to frighten us all! By THAT TIME, rural, city and industrial demands
WILL HAVE DEPLETED OUR REMAINING UNDERGROUND WATER
1967 - An exciting year for apocalyptics: Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, and UFO
contactee George van Tassel all independently arrived at the conclusion
that the Summer of Love would be TEOTWAWKI.
Not to be left out, Herbert W. Armstrong said in 1967 “The 'Day of the
Eternal'-a time foretold in more than thirty prophecies-is going to strike
between 5 and 10 years from now!". It turned out that his period of 1972 –
1977 was one of the wealthiest, healthiest and socially progressive times
of that century.
1960’s – numerous predictions about the world ending by
nuclear holocaust, war in Israel, etc.
1950’s – numerous predictions about the world ending by
nuclear holocaust, UFO’s, etc.
1940’s – few TEOTWAWKI predictions. With WWII devouring real people
by the millions, predictions of the same must have been unpopular.
1936 – Herbert Armstrong, in one of his many, many failed predictions in his
“Plain Truth” publication, said that “1936 would be the end of the Time of the
Gentiles…following by darkening of the Sun and the Moon, and falling of the
1930’s – few TEOTWAWKI predictions. With much of the world striving to
survive during the Great Depression, predictions of further misery were again
unpopular. Not many books would sell, so there would be no reason to market
1919 – a conjunction of planets would cause the sun to explode, according to a
respected scientist. This leads to mob violence and a number of suicides.
1910 – Halley’s Comet returns. The Earth actually passed through its tail.
Hucksters and fear-mongers panic the nation, selling books and “comet-pills” to
protect one’s self against comet gas. Suicides are common. One interesting
accurate prediction; Mark Twain was born during the previous Halley’s event and
prophesized that he would die when it came around in 1910. It did, and he did
1910’s – with WWI in full fury, EOTW predictions were again unpopular. Most
common were the inevitable Watchtower publications. They finally were forced
to change the EOTW date to 1925. Then to 1975. Then to… you get the idea.
1881 – Students of the Great Pyramid of Giza made measurements and
concluded that they had uncovered “hidden knowledge” that the world would end
that year. Late they recalculated to 1936…and then 1953.
1850 – Ellen White made many predictions about TEOTW to be that year. She
had a following of many, many people – millions today.
1843 – Miller founded the Millerites, predicting the EOTW that year. It didn’t so
he moved the date to October 22, 1844. Thousands of people sold their
possessions and joined him. The date is called “The Great Disappointment” in
history. Actually, it happened several times before they finally gave up.
1814 – Joanna Southcott, a mystic, predicted to her followers that the world
would end in October of that year. It did not, but two months later she did. Her
followers kept her body for some time, expecting her to resurrect. They handed
her over when the odor became too much of a problem.
1794 – Charles Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodists, predicted the end
of the world in that year. The group has mellowed a bit with age.
1792 – Many of the Quakers used that year as their prediction for the EOTW, but
the faith is still here today. Two of our great presidents would come from their
ranks, again, more mellowed.
1761 – In London, William Bell predicts the End of the World on a specific date.
The city panics, snatching up every available boat and clogging the Thames so
little traffic could move. The next day they snatched up William and he
disappeared from history.
1736 – Another “End of the World in London” panic sent the public into the
Thames by the boatload. This seems to be a popular event in London.
1699 – A group called Old Believers believed that the world would end that year.
To protect themselves against the antichrist, it is said that 20,000 of them burned
themselves to death in Russia.
1584 – The astrologer Leowitz published a prediction of the end of the world in
1584, and also included a set of tables extending well into the 1600’s, just in
1524 – The world was to end by a worldwide flood, according to many famous
astrologers of that year. Across Europe people built boats and arks. As the date
approached they swarmed boats in harbors; 20,000 in London alone. Mob
violence resulted in hundreds of deaths in Germany. When the floods did not
come a new and improved date was calculated which was rejected and ignored
by the masses, who are smarter than given credit.
1504 – A painting by Botticelli, the “Mystic Nativity”, seems to have a “hidden”
Greek inscription that indicates this is the year of TEOTW.
1496 – was considered by many in Europe to be the 1500th birthday of Christ and
that the world would end that year. Partially true; for Native Americans the End
of Their World had indeed begun.
1346 – The Black Plague sweeps Europe, killing 1/3 of the people. Many
thought this was the beginning of the EOTW. We survived.
1307 – three years rain (much more than fourty days) leaves Europe soggy;
crops fail and a great famine ensues. Many thought the EOTW had begun.
1306 – the Millennium was supposed to have begun in 306, so this would be the
last year of the Earth (as we knew it). Fortunately, it was. I would not want to
live in the 1300’s, with no toilet paper, hot showers or McDonald’s.
1296 – Pope Innocent III joins a list of Popes who predict the EOTW in a specific
year, and 1296 was the year of his prediction. It did not come to pass, although
he himself passed in 1216. Still, before he did he was able to order TEOTW for
nearly a million Cathar Christians and others in Southern France. It took several
hundred years for the area to recover its population and economy. The culture of
the troubadours and other Cathars was lost forever.
1186 – John of Toledo calculated the world to end on September 23. He was
well-respected so kings, religious leaders and the Emperor all ordered the day to
be taken off. The following day work resumed as usual.
1066 – Halley’s Comet is taken by two opposing world leaders as an omen of the
end of the world in the impending Battle of Hastings. Partially true: the world did
change on that day, and for one of them, it ended.
1005 – 1006 – Greatest of the famines in Europe cause many to believe the End
of the World had begun. For many of them, it had.
1000 – Millennium Fever grips Europe, similar to Y2K of our generation. “This
year goes down as one of the most pronounced states of hysteria over the return
of Christ” http://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm
Unfortunately few people could read or understand numbers, so they were totally
relying on the mercy of those who could explain what it all meant, or at least their
version of it. Many people gave all of their possessions to the Church, who did
not return them when the inevitable 1001 came around. In 1000 crops were
unplanted, work was undone, and Europeans flocked (or trod) to the Holy Land.
968 - Emperor Otto claimed an eclipse indicated the world would end that year.
When the eclipse occurs his army panics.
500 - The antipope Hippolytus and others make the first round-numbered year
prediction of TEOTWAWKI. Countless of the faithful fall for it.
365 - Saint Martin of Tours predicts the end of the world that year.
90 - Saint Clement I predicted the world would end at any moment. Still here!
This is only a selection of the more interesting ones. For MORE failed
predictions try these sites:
http://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm (from a Christian perspective)
http://listverse.com/2008/09/18/top-10-failed-apocalyptic-predictions/ (only ten of
them but with great stories about each)
http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/appendix3.html a comprehensive listing