Failed predictions

by Keith Barber

The Rapture, 2011

Evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping announced that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on Saturday, May 21, and many of his followers traveled the country in preparation for the weekend “rapture.” As of this week, it appears Camping’s timing was a bit off. For the time being, it appears Armageddon is not imminent.

Nostradamus and 9/11

Sixteenth century physician and astrologer Nostradamus was credited with writing, “In the City of God, there will be a great thunder; Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures; the great leader will succumb; The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.” Many believed Nostradamus had predicted the attacks of Sept. 11 nearly 350 years before it happened. However, reports that Nostradamus was not the author of the quote. It was actually written by a student at Brock University in Canada in 1997.

Could the New York Times be wrong?

In 1936, a journalist for the venerable New York Times boldly predicted, “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere,” according to the website A little more than two decades later, the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into the Earth’s orbit. Each of its 1440 elliptical orbits around the Earth took about 96 minutes. In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on its surface.

Aliens will land and destroy the world

Leon Festinger’s 1956 book When Prophecy Fails documents the case of Dorothy Martin, a housewife from Chicago, who claimed she had been given messages in her house in the form of “automatic writing” from aliens who originated from the planet Clarion. The messages revealed that the world would come to an end by a great flood on December 21, 1954.

The first millennium doomsday

Christians in Europe predicted the end of the world on Jan. 1, 1000, according to the website, “As the date approached, Christian armies waged war against some of the Pagan countries in Northern Europe,” the website states. “The motivation was to convert them all to Christianity, by force if necessary, before Christ returned in the year 1000.” In the meantime, Christians gave their worldly possessions to the church in anticipation of the end.

Hollywood a fad?

In 1916, Charlie Chaplin, the iconic actor, producer, director and founder of United Artists, is credited with saying, “The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage,” according to This past weekend, Pirates of the Carribean 4 grossed more than $90 million at the box office. Chaplin was a legendary entertainer but his clairvoyance is dubious.

A final eclipse?

In 968 AD, German emperor Otto III interpreted an eclipse as a harbinger of the end of world, according to the website, Fortunately, the Earth has survived thousands of eclipses over the past 11 centuries.

The age of the horse

In 1903, the president of Michigan Savings Bank once advised Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the upstart automobile company, stating, “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” In 2008, Ford produced 5.532 million automobiles, according to Wikipedia.

A Mormon doomsday

Joseph Smith, the found of the Church of Latter Day Saints, is credited with predicting that Jesus would return to Earth when he turned 85 years old. Smith would have turned 85 in 1890, but was killed nearly half a century earlier by a mob in Illinois, according to the website

Could Einstein have been wrong?

In 1932, Albert Einstein is reported to have stated, “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will,” according to As we all know, use of nuclear energy is growing despite its inherent dangers.