If, At First, You Don't Succeed, Fail, Fail, Again
The explosion of apocalypticism in our "modern" 20th & 21st centuries
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Harold Bloom Quote



1960 CE - Charles Piazzi Smyth, one-time astronomer, pyramidologist extraordinaire and inventor of the preposterous "pyramid inch", let his tape measure do the walking and came up with 1960 as the definite date for the millennium. Other than the release of, "The Attack Of The Giant Leeches", though, it was actually a pretty good year.

July 14, 1960 CE 1:45 AM GMT - A nutty Italian doctor named Elio Bianco developed something of an atomic fetish and established a little cult of his own called, "The Community Of The White Mount". He and his happy band were convinced that the U.S. had constructed a super secret super nuke and when it was detonated, (on the above-mentioned date, of course) it would make the whole world go boom. So far as I know, they're still waiting.

February 4, 1962 CE - Not only was this a year for a 5-orb planetary alignment, but these ungrateful folks were provided with an impressive solar eclipse, to boot. Naturally, the hopelessly pinheaded went bananas over the astral phenomena, certain that it was all a portent of their doom. From marathon prayer vigils in India to bomb-shelter stocking in the USA, the easily over-awed were out in force. In California, the road to the Griffith Observatory was backed up for a half-mile and the observatory itself was overrun by sobbing hysterics pleading with astronomers to tell them the real story... No, no, no, not the "nothing was going to happen" story, they meant the "real" story! Y'know, the "we're all going to die!!!" story... That one.

  When nothing was all that ultimately happened, people were so put out by the anti-climax that many of them made up a mystical scenario of their own. Borrowing a page from the 7DA's and JW's books, they insisted that something momentous had happened on Feb. 4... it was just invisible... but it would reveal itself... eventually... any day, now... whatever it was... really... just you wait and see...

1965-1966 CE - Why anyone would want to go out of their way to co-opt Christian millenarianism is beyond me, but Nation Of Islam leader Elijah Mohammed was drawn to the concept as though it'd been magnetized. As toxically anti-white as any KKK Grand Dragon is anti-black, Mohammed found the idea of a racial apocalypse to be tremendously appealing. Of course, Allah would ensure that by the end of this conflict, (set precisely for the years 1965-1966) African Americans (led by the Nation Of Islam, of course) would come out on top, with the whites reduced to a pitiful underclass, if they weren't wiped out entirely. In point of fact, the two years in question turned out to be highly tumultuous, violent, though ultimately positive ones in the history of the Civil Rights movement. Yet, Allah remained as stubbornly unavailable for calls during this period as the Christian God had been for the last 2000 years. Neither the world, nor even white society went under and Elijah was forced to seek out another date, this time far more removed and indefinite, for his apocalyptic race war.

1967 CE - This was the first date-of-choice for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's prophesied Kingdom of Heaven. When it failed to materialize, he merely announced that the world was simply not ready for such an enlightenment (Well, isn't it just like the world, to have to be held back a grade?) and he re-set his millennial clock accordingly. Fascistically mind-controlling as the Unification Church is, one has to give them credit in one respect: Rather than suggesting a Doomsday scenario for the world, Moon's millennium is seen merely as a spiritual awakening and the dawning of a kind of Golden Age. I guess the dawning of the Age of Aquarius didn't count.

June 1967 CE - Israeli forces took six days to kick an advancing Egyptian army out of their territory... and the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and - most important to our discussion - Jerusalem. Well, Fundamentalists went bananas in bunches. Rapture fever gripped Biblical literalists everywhere as they watched an event they interpreted as one of the key signs of the End Times taking place: The return of the Jews to Jerusalem. To the chagrin of Armageddon fans everywhere, the next big sign, the rebuilding of the Temple, never did take place. Instead, the Israelis have remained perfectly content to pray at and stuff paper wads into the remaining Western (Wailing) Wall. Nonetheless, the war did give the doomsayers another date to slap a generational Pause button on.

Christmas Morn', 1967 CE - Up north and a teensy to the left, a dippy Dane dubbed Knud Weiking sacked out on his sofa for a ciggie one night and ended up getting the head-voice treatment from an ET named "Orthon". A spiffier dresser than the usual bug-eyed grays that seem to haunt Yankee trailer parks and tract homes, Orthon sashayed his fine, 6 ft. tall, broad shouldered, slim waisted, golden-haired, golden tanned, skin-tight golden-clad, tri-color caped, aura-enveloped self into Knud's knotty noggin to deliver a literally earth-shaking message. According to Captain Goldypants, the world was scheduled to end not just in a nuclear winter, but on a nuclear Christmas! First thing in the AM, before the kids could even unwrap their pressies! Festive, no? Naturally, this would spell doom for just about all life on the planet, save a few lucky sports equipped with extra-high-gloss auras who'd be teleported to waiting spaceships by Orthon's (presumably) equally hunky La Cage aux Folles chorus boy alien brethren.

  Knud's natterings were soon published in a local saucer rag called "Ufo-nut... er... nyt" and in no time, a growing cult of Orthonian bizarros were hanging with rapt fascination onto Ort's every mystic word (as "channeled" by Knud, in case you were wondering) and waiting breathlessly for the final mo', when they'd be swept away by a fleet of ET Prince Charmings. On the wild and wooly off-chance that their own auras might be found sorely in need of a buffing, the Orthonites also started building themselves a cozy lil' nuclear bomb shelter in Borup. Covered in 25 tons of lead shielding, the sorry shack promptly began leaking ground water and sinking under its own weight.

  In that sense, it was a lot like the prophecy that inspired it. Mere hours before its deadline, Knud began to get cold astral feet and suddenly blurted out a new revelation about some fringe-dwelling loon named Åge Jensen and his divinely-directed invention that could "create atoms". Jensen claimed it was an alien spaceship engine and contained the secret of the pyramids, besides!... Ya' gotta love multi-tasking crockery. This must be the nuclear to-do that Orthon was talking about! claimed Knud. But, as the midnight chimes of Dec. 25 rang out with not a single ICBM to behold, Jensen refused to play ball. He didn't know Orthon from Oreos. His supernatural head buddies were above things like specific names and personas and tight, spandex costumes. Poor Knud was left to face the agony of defeat without a buffer. Unsurprisingly, cultists being the tenacious, reality-repulsing bunch they are, the Orthonistas didn't completely dissolve even after their Doomsday did. Instead, they split up into various factions and periodically made the news by spouting off with little doomsdates here and there over the years. There are still a few holdouts, even up to the present day, though their numbers are few. Relics of an antique saucer cult age. "The Pre-Gray Period", when aliens could look like rent boys and dress like Fire Island fashion victims and cultists actually didn't know how to build a bomb shelter. Ah, t'were simpler times, indeed!
(Thanks to Chris Nelson for the link and to John Ståhle for additional info.)

1968 - 1969 CE - Twenty-three years dead though he might have been, Edgar Cayce was still able to give the public something ludicrous to get in a tizzy over. This time, it was the lost continent of Atlantis, which Eddy insisted would rise up out of the ocean and play havoc with the Gulf Stream, changing weather patterns in a nasty way world-wide. This time, dens of sin like New York and Los Angeles would sink beneath the waves and, of course, (Eddy's favorite)... the poles would shift.

1969 CE - Why it is that dangerous schizophrenics are so frequently taken as holy prophets, is one of those timeless mysteries of history. Yet, it happens again and again and again. Failed rock musician and white supremacist-in-hippie-clothing Charles Manson is one of the more overt examples. Managing to collect a group of spoiled, privileged teens into a little cult he dubbed "The Family", Manson combined an appreciation for Beatles music with old fashioned Christian apocalypticism and racist hysteria and passed the results on to his groupies in the form of a deadly doctrine. Convinced that a massive race war was soon to break out, Charlie believed that he would rise from the resulting ashes of civilization to rule the remaining roost. Key to bringing on the apocalypse was murdering a number of high-profile people and then conveniently placing the blame on blacks. For this, he sent his flock out to do his killing for him.

  Before they were caught, members of Manson's Family butchered eight people at the homes of actress Sharon Tate (including Tate and her unborn child) and the otherwise uncelebrated LaBiancas. Though committed to life in prison, Charlie has recently risen in popularity amongst borderline-literate, nihilist poseur teens who see this sad, brain-pureed loser as some kind of glamorous anti-hero. A clear sign that the quality of anti-heroes has sunk to a tragic new low in the last few years.

November 22, 1969 CE - On a lighter note, UFO fluffhead Robin McPherson and her jolly crew of "Light Affiliates" (which sounds more like a Madison Ave. advertising firm than the sorry saucer cult it really was) waited for doom to strike in the form of a laundry list of kooky cataclysms. This would end in Earth going all tipsy off its axis and humanity being chucked before the Lord for that ever-hyped Last Judgment. Little Robby knew all this was meant to be because a space entity named Ox-Ho had channeled the details straight into her head. When the day came and went sans celestial flip-flops, she and her "affiliates" refused to admit defeat. Instead, they insisted that Judgment Day had too come! It's just that they got some of the "minor" details wrong about the event... Like, for instance, all of it.

1970 CE - There's nothing like a little End Times prophesying to really pack the pews. At least, that was the theory operated on by the True Light Church of Christ. Clearly clueless newbies to the biz, the TLCoC made the usual mistakes of being too specific and too quick on the draw. They compounded the problem by going the full tilt cult route and telling their members to quit their jobs, sell their homes, stop feeding their fish, etc., which, of course, they did... Well, when do they not? By 1971 there were some pretty teed-off ex-church members sitting around collecting unemployment.

January 1974 CE - Amongst the odder ducks to waddle out of the '60's counter-culture were the Jesus People. Collectively, they were hyper-evangelistic hippie folk intent on living as though they were all stuck in an endless dinner theater production of Godspell. On a smaller scale, they divided up into numerous Christian groups, all with their own ideas of what the "True" doctrine was. Even within the company of this interesting crowd, the group calling themselves "The Children Of God" still managed to stand out as over-the-edge bizarros.

  Led by one Moses David (a.k.a. David Berg) they spent a great deal of their time living in communes, hiding from their real life families, engaging in Free Love, (a quaint old hippie term meaning "shut up and screw, bitch or you're out on your ass") hooking for Jesus and running for cover every time their fearless leader screamed that the End was nigh. One would think that after Mo had dragged them all over the Southwest to escape the ultimate LA earthquake that never came, they would have had at least some reservations when he started foaming 'round the mouth about a killer comet. But, no. At the very mention of comet Kahoutek they went charging off to the four corners of the Earth to wait out the annihilation of the US that Mosey swore would come. When it didn't, they didn't so much as turn a hair over it, either. The sign of a well-trained cult; every independent thought carefully scrubbed away and their brains immaculately washed.

1974 - 2028??? CE - The Rev. Charles Meade began prattling on about Armageddon in services held in his garage in Daleville, IN back in 1974. A charismatic sort, Charlie was. So, it wasn't too long before his carport congregation grew into a full-blown cult, the "End Time Ministries". If you're thinking that it sounds just a tad one-note, give yourself a cookie. The whole basis of Chuckle's sect is that the End will happen "in his lifetime", a limited span even if he lives to celebrate 100, as he was already 47 when he started spreading the news. Aside from preparation for the Grand Finalé, life is supposed to be nothing but one big waiting room. Only you don't get to look at any magazines, because according to the C-man, reading is evil. So is wearing make-up, being single and childless by age 17, going to the doctor, talking to your non-cult neighbors or even so much as waving to anyone not in the club.

  Charles's apocalypse is a little different, at least. No fire and brimstone for his terminal imaginings. For Charlie, the world will not end with a bang or a whimper, but with a squish. Not in flood or in fire, but in goo. In a vision that's almost certainly Freudian in origin, (and likely best left unpondered on) Charles saw the world being covered in a sticky, white... substance. It's supposed to glop and squirt onto everything and finally coat the entire planet like bargain sour cream on a really old fruit salad. The power of this icky image to terrorize and galvanize Charlie and his flock cannot be overstated and they've committed themselves to avoiding it at all cost.

  By the mid-eighties, the End Timers began moving into the small, but tasteful town of Lake City, Florida, gradually edging out the longtime residents to create their own little Stepford-esque community. It is from here that they intended to watch the world's mucilaginous swan song. In the meantime, they pour their efforts into their brand new cathedral, a multi-million dollar mother meant to attract converts with its warm, safe and inviting design meant to evoke Noah's Ark... turned upside-down. Clearly, neither Charles, his flock, nor his architect ever saw "The Poseidon Adventure".

1975 CE - In the history of the Jehovah's Witnesses, only 1914 stands out as a date more hyped and hoped for than 1975. Starting with the failure of the '40's to bring their beloved apocalypse, the Witness leadership started looking for a new date to impale their follower's hopes on. By the mid-sixties, that date was solidified and made public in the peppily titled tome, "Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God". Its proud author, then JW president Nathan Knorr, stated that 1975 would mark the 6000th year of Creation and the due date of the Second Coming's coming. Having learned exactly zippity doo-dah from their 1940's debacle, the JWs once again advised the rank and file to sell their homes, quit their jobs, turn down their college scholarships, tear up their résumés, lose their fiancés and knock off window shopping for any of those maternity clothes or baby carriages. Life, said the leadership, was to consist solely of praying and meeting and door-to-door god-bothering for the remainder of their time on this dirty, nasty, icky, ka-ka, poo-poo little Earth.

  With Old Faithful-like regularity, the Witnesses fell in line and did as they were told, believing with all their hearts that they would be happily toasting their immortality amongst the toasted remains of the mortal masses by decade's mid-point. By the time 1976 rolled around though, they found themselves sitting through the interminable Bicentennial tacky-fest like everybody else. Well, they were not happy campers. As they did back in the '40's, Jonadabs re-enacted the Exodus by the boatload, leaving only the leaders and the truly hopelessly brain dead behind. Did the leadership learn anything from this mass defection? Sure: There's more where that came from!

1975 CE - Truly, one of the busiest little beavers in the Armageddon industry is one Mr. Charles Taylor. A prophecy teacher with an addiction for End Times that rivals the Witnesses, Charlie's big debut in the field was with this prediction for 1975. Like many obsessives, Charles tends to fixate on certain themes and/or details. The most notable one is his "thing" for the Jewish Feast of Trumpets. For the uninitiated, no, that doesn't refer to Yiddish dinner theater, it's just another name for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. For some reason, Charles has decided that nothing of any import could possibly be intended by God without being scheduled to coincide with this, his favorite holiday. So, come rain or come shine, no matter how many times he re-writes the year on his doom-planner, the season remains a constant. Maybe he should switch to Purim?

1975 CE - Many years before they would discover the ultimate apple sauce recipe, the members of Heaven's Gate formed a little saucer cult called "Human Individual Metamorphosis" or "HIM". The group was founded by former music teacher, failed opera singer and self-loathing homosexual, Marshall Herff Applewhite and spirit-channeling zodiac nut and registered nurse Bonnie Lu Nettles. The two met when Applewhite was hospitalized for a heart blockage and they bonded as platonic soul-mates-from-Mars almost instantly. Combining delusions, they convinced themselves that they were aliens who'd come to Earth 2000 years earlier in a vast spaceship, leaving their bodies to inhabit those of any number of interesting historical figures, like Jesus and the Buddha. Bonnie liked to think really big and declared that she was no less than the Heavenly Father. The object of all this terrestrial body-hopping was to enlighten the poor, backward Earthlings; to spread the good news that they could save themselves from being "spaded under" by ascending to "a higher plane above that of human" and getting whisked away in that super-groovy aforementioned spaceship.

  Adopting nicknames that could curdle milk at thirty paces, (Bo and Peep, Guinea and Pig, Tiddly and Wink, Nincom and Poop, and the combo that stuck, Do and Ti) the two merry space cadets abandoned their families to wander all over the country, spreading their doctrine. They managed to attract over a thousand devoted acolytes, many of whom turned out to be long-lost alien crew mates (Imagine that!) who dropped everything, including their children, to follow them. Very soon, Do and Ti were promising their flock that the End was coming up fast and furious and that the spaceship was winging its way at warp 9.9 to get them.

  Assembling together on a large patch of land identified as the rendezvous point, the HIM folk waited excitedly to be beamed up. Instead, they remained out standing in their field all day without seeing so much as a weather balloon. Bitterly disappointed, the cult members dropped out in droves, leaving only Do and Ti and a tiny band of hard-core devotees. As far as the public were concerned, the cult had dropped off the radar screen. But it turned out to merely be a temporary set-back as they re-thought their doctrine. The next time they ran into a reality check, they were determined to have a way to call checkmate.

Between 1975 - 1979 CE - One of the great things about the Bible is that you can find a word or number in it to correspond with just about anything. Whether it's the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or the even more unbelievable time a Grammy was awarded to Milli Vanilli, if you've got a talent for math games or crossword puzzles, you can find a retrospective prophecy for any event. Finding workable prophecies for future events, however, is a little dicier; as Herbert W. Armstrong of the World Wide Church of God discovered, to his chagrin.

  Using reasoning powers that would impress any modern tabloid psychic, Herbie concluded that the world would fall down, go boom in the last half of the '70's by using the following formula: Assume God made the world in 4025 BC. Assume, also, that the world has a timer set for self-destruct in 6000 years. Now, take Leviticus 26:18 "I will punish you seven times more for your sins." quote, call it a prophecy and date it at 717 BC. Decide that the prophecy means 7 years of 360 days (7 x 360) and conclude that the resulting 2520 refers to the years God will withhold his blessings from the chosen people (as opposed to "The Chosen People" ...see 1936 on "If At First..." page 1) subtract 717 from 2520 and you've got 1803... which is a problem, since even Herbie could suss out that the world hadn't ended then.

  So, casting about wildly, he latched onto Micah 5, which speaks of the remnant of Jacob being cut off. (oh, stop it...) Falling back on Anglo-Iraelistic wackiness, Herbie determined that the "remnant" was Great Britain and America and decided that God had extended his blessing period another 147 years. Why?... Why not?! Anyhoo, the blessing times, they was clearly over, since Britain's Empire was all but extinct by 1950 and not long after, America had gotten seriously heinie-whipped in Korea and Vietnam.

  In addition to all that, Herbie had this "thing" for the number 19. He was certain that God worked in nineteen year cycles, marked by conjunctions of the Earth, sun and moon. The most recent of these magic conjunctions came and went in '72 and as far as a Trib tripping event was concerned, that was all the confirmation Herbie needed. The End Times simply had to be ripping down the road before '79... Hadn't they? Well, reality bites and Herbie tried hard to back-peddle and find another date. But, the mistake came at a bad time for the cult in general and it helped cause even further schisms amongst the rank and file which are still being fought over today. In the years since Armstrong's death in the mid-eighties, the WWCoG has moved away from millenarianism and dropped much of its earlier, extremist doctrine. Still fringy and peculiar in many ways, they're nevertheless swimming ever closer toward the mainstream.

1976 CE - Undaunted by his failed apocalypse of the previous year, Charles Taylor tried again... scheduling for the Feast of Trumpets, of course. His daunt would not be de-"un'd" by this year's failure, either.

1977 CE - Back in 1933, racist, misogynistic, anti-Catholic, marginally literate, faith healing red neck William Branham proudly proclaimed that the End was a'comin' in 1977. Billy B. was obsessively keen on such diverse imagery as an evil female Antichrist, cars shaped like eggs and the United States reduced to a charred wasteland via the vengeful hand of the Lord. To give a proper idea of the man, though, I can do no better than to quote his own lyrical utterances directly (kindly credit all misspellings to the genius Billy fan who lovingly transcribed the following from an audio tape):

"I saw this nation become as a smolter, just blowed to bits!... Now, then after that, I turned and looked, and I saw this United States burning like a smolder; rocks had been blowed up. And it was burning like a heap of fire in logs or something that just set it afire; and looked as far as I could see and she'd been blowed up... The way progress is going on, I'll predict that the time (I don't know why I'm saying it.) --but I predict that that'll all happen between right now, 1933 and 1977. And not knowing it, God knows my heart, I never knowed it until yesterday, that 1977 is the jubilee, and exactly the same amount of time run out that He give with Israel and everything at the end... And here we are at the end of the age, at the coming in of the seventieth week. We don't know what time that the church will be gone. Oh, my. What can we do, friends? Where are we at?"

  Who needs Shakespeare, huh?

  Amazing as it seems, this escapee from a Hee-Haw re-run still has admirers who go to great lengths to make excuses for his little apocalyptic faux pas. They use everything from explaining that he falsely prophesied deliberately to make people think he wasn't really a prophet of the Lord, (You want logic? Go read a page on Steven Hawking) to the usual "Well, just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean he was wrong! The Lord shall prove him right one day!... Real soon!... Just you wait'un see!... Damn heathen!..."

1977 CE - End Time "specialist" Salem Kirban clearly sat through one too many screenings of "The Swarm". In his book "Countdown To Rapture" he made the histrionic claim that the africanized killer bees spreading into the US signaled the fulfillment of Revelation 9. The passage in question refers to swarms of locusts with scorpion stingers, human heads and horsey bodies (Hey, don't look at me, I'm just the messenger) that zap anyone unlucky enough to lack a magic pixie stamp on their forehead. Too bad neither Salem nor Rev 9's author were entomology specialists. Maybe Sal should'a sat through "The Hellstrom Chronicles", instead?

1977 CE - Remember John Wroe? All right, I know it's been a while. He was the guy who took over running the Southcottians from John Turner, who took over from Joanna Southcott after she died instead of giving birth to a Messiah named Shiloh... or, rather, who would have been named Shiloh had he been born... which he couldn't have, really, because his mother... or, rather, his self-proclaimed mother... wasn't actually pregnant with him... or really anyone... since she was kind of a virgin... and 65 years old. Remember now? Okay, well, John was one of those people who really like to cover their bases, so he didn't make just one end of the world prophecy, he made two. He dropped dead the year the first one fizzled, back in 1863 and, so far as I know, continued to remain dead through his misfire of 1977.

November 18, 1978 CE - Probably the single worst apocalyptic cult event of the 20th century was the mass suicide/murder of 919 people at the People's Temple compound in Jonestown, Guyana. Begun in the 1950's as an urban mission in Indianapolis, IN promoting a message of tolerance and inter-racial harmony, the People's Temple somehow gradually grew into a full-scale Doomsday cult by the early '70's. Fueled by paranoia and the 400-megaton God-complex of their leader, Jim Jones, the congregation was persuaded to uproot and relocate first to Northern California and then to the jungles of Guyana. Their aim was to escape a combined racial Holocaust and nuclear Armageddon that Jones prophesied would destroy the US.

  Isolated in the patch of jungle they dubbed "Jonestown", the members were subjected day and night to the increasingly despotic and abusive behavior of Jones, whose drug habit only added to his paranoid mania and his need for absolute control. Within a short time, the members were forced to enact random "suicide drills", often wakened in the middle of the night by the howl of loudspeakers blaring Jones's fevered ranting. His message was one of imminent destruction from the outside that could only be averted by willful destruction from within.

  Media exposure of the cult's off-beat activities and rumors of abuse by former members finally persuaded Congressman Leo Ryan of San Francisco to investigate the group, personally. Flying to Guyana with a small entourage, Ryan met with Jones and his followers, and courtesy of some carefully planned staging, came away with a very positive impression... initially. By the second day, however, a significant number of Temple members approached Ryan and his group asking to leave with them. They were allowed to exit the compound without incident; but as they waited on the airstrip, heavily armed Temple security guards drove up and opened fire, killing Ryan and four others, including a cameraman whose video-cam continued to record the gruesome spectacle even after he fell dead.

  Determined to avoid the governmental retribution he was certain would come, Jones used the loudspeaker to call his flock to him one last time. Macabre audio tapes of his final meandering speech, delivered above the screams of members unwillingly forced to follow him into death, provide a harrowing insight to those final moments. Drinking down cups of poisoned Kool-Aid, the majority of the Temple members died in groups, face down, arm-in-arm. Those who wouldn't go willingly were injected with poison or shot as they tried to escape. Only a small handful managed to flee into the jungle. The rest, 638 adults and 276 children, including Jones and all but two members of his family, died on the spot. In the years since, the jungle has reclaimed the place where Jonestown stood and its many inhabitants died, leaving virtually no sign of the events that passed there. But, the legacy of the People's Temple and their tragic trajectory remains; it's rooted in our collective consciousness and reawakened with every new cult that crawls up out of the shadows, promising Doomsday and determined to deliver.

1979 CE - Adam Rutherford, author of the endlessly odd four volume opus, "Pyramidology", claimed back in 1957 that 1979 would mark the end of the world. The reality was that it didn't even mark the end of Disco. Nonetheless, the obvious discrediting of this one rather important proclamation did not cause Adam's admirers to question any of the others he'd made. In fact, they actually get downright hostile and defensive at the mere suggestion. Quite understandable, really. In the war to keep facts the hell out of fancy, one can't afford to give up any ground.

1979 CE - It's hard to out-wacky the pyramidologists. Seeing as how it is such a crowded field. Yet, Reginald Dunlop managed to win the crown for the decade when he announced his Giza-guaranteed prophecy that the end was set for 1979. So proud was he of his terminal revelation, that he published it for all the doomed world to see in his subtly titled book, "FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS! -- GOD'S MESSAGE FOR SURVIVAL -- NO TIME TO SPARE! --IMMINENT END TIME DESTRUCTION!!!" For some strange reason, when 1979 came and went without any obvious apocalyptish wear and tear, Reggie did not seem inclined to write any book titled, "OOPS! SORRY -- MY MISTAKE -- YES, I AM AN IDIOT -- NO, DON'T GO ANYWHERE -- EVERYTHING'S JUST DUCKY".

Sometime in the 1980's CE - One of the best-known professional psychics of the 20th century was Jeane Dixon. So irrational and overstated were her professed abilities that she's even had an "effect" named after her: The Jeane Dixon Effect - "The tendency of the mass media to hype or exaggerate a few correct predictions by a psychic, guaranteeing that they will be remembered, while forgetting or ignoring the much more numerous incorrect predictions."

  The most well known and highly touted prediction of hers was of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, supposedly made in a popular magazine in 1956. What the media and Dixon fans like to forget, however, is that several years later, during the actual 1960 elections, she predicted Nixon would be the winner. She also predicted the election of Tom Dewey as "assistant president" (whatever that is) in the forties, germ warfare with China in the late fifties, Nixon re-elected president after his resignation in the seventies and the dissolution of the Catholic Church in the early nineties. But, let's not discuss all that,... let's discuss her failed prediction of a killer comet plowing into planet Earth in the eighties, instead.

  According to Ms. Dixon, this comet would spell the worst disaster of the century, maybe the worst in human history. For an event of such dire consequence, though, she was surprisingly coy about the location of said comet's ground zero. That, she stated with grave import, would be revealed by her at some "future date". Well, the eighties came and went some time ago and so did bonnie Jeane, who went to that great astrology column in the sky back in 1997... Is that "future" enough?

1980 CE - Charles Taylor, back again for more. Unfortunately, there won't be trumpets this year, either.

1981 CE - In his confirmation hearing before Congress, then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt was asked to discuss his plans for the use and maintenance of America's national parks, public lands and natural resources. His reply? In a nutshell: "Hey, why bother?" In Watt's funhouse mirror opinion, there wasn't much point in trying to save and preserve the nation's wildlife and wilderness, since the Rapture was sure to happen at any moment and very shortly thereafter, there wouldn't be any wildlife or wilderness to preserve. Scarier still, was then-president Ronald Reagan's seconding of this view and his highly unnerving tendency to reiterate it while discussing things like the US's vast nuclear arsenal and how it measured against that of the Soviet Union. (a.k.a. "The Evil Empire") Yep, nothing like having an Armageddon maven with his finger on the nuclear trigger.


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