The 13 Greatest End of the World Prophecy FAILs Events
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The 13 Greatest End of the World Prophecy FAILs

Don't panic. According to the Mayans, the world is going to end this Friday, December 21st, 2012. Whether by a reversal of the Earth's rotational axis, a collision with mysterious Niburu, or by some kind of implosion black hole issue, the Mayan calendar clearly indicates this TGIF will be our last (maybe set the DVR for a little Full House? Some Family Matters, for old time's sake?).

No matter how many times religious "prophets" predict doomsday based on numerology, the Bible or scientists wrongly calculate a comet's effect on the planet (Isaac Newton even wrote his own prediction of the apocalypse that was published after his death), people have kept bracing themselves for the end of the world or committing suicide to spare themselves from witnessing the Apocalypse (which, c'mon, would be pretty awesome to see).

What are some end of the world predictions? Inspired by the current prediction (Friday, December 21st), here are 13 failed apocalyptic prophecies of the past.

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  1. 10

    20,000 Londoners Flee Their Homes In The Second Great Flood

    A respected German scholar and priest, Johannes Stoeffler, predicted in 1499 that the world would be flooded again because all six of the planets known then would be in conjunction in the constellation of Pisces.

    Since Pisces is represented by a fish, Stoeffer assumed it meant water would be responsible for killing all of the Earth's inhabitants. Perfectly reasonable.

    Because he was well-respected, people listened to his prediction and braced themselves for the second Great Flood.

    English astrologers set the date for February 1, 1524. People sold their waterfront property even if they lost profit and an elevated fortress was built at the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great with two months worth of necessities.

    Boat builders became filthy rich as families commissioned arks to be built to protect themselves when the flood arrived.

    The craziest part, and definitely the one who believed Stoeffler the most was German count named Von Iggleheim who actually constructed a luxury, three-story ark for his friends and family.

    That's a lot of trust to put in a guy you've never met. But, I mean, c'mon, who wouldn't trust this face?

    Give in to your feeeeeear

    On February 1st 20,000 Londoners left their homes to get to higher ground and await the rain. Nothing happened and they all went back to their houses.

    In Europe, however, it began to rain at dawn. A crowd around von Iggleheim's ark became panicked and tried to get onto it, killing many in the stampede.

    When he refused to let them on, they dragged him out of the ark and stoned him to death. Makes sense.

    Fantasies of London flooding are not uncommon, though:

  2. 3

    Amateur Astrologist's False Observation Leads to Mass Suicide in 1997

    When amateur astronomist Chuck Shramek took a fuzzy CCD image of the comet Hale-Bopp, which was set to reappear in 1997, he mistakenly observed that a Saturn-like object was trailing behind it. The observation reached message boards on the early, pre-YouTube Internet and spread, making UFO enthusiasts predict that an alien spacecraft was trailing the comet.

    The closeness of the comet's appearance to the new millennium led religious cults like Heaven's Gate to see it as a sign of the apocalypse.

    39 people in the cult committed mass suicide in California because they believed the UFO disguising itself through the comet was there to rescue them from a doomed Earth. How they thought killing themselves would help them get on the UFO makes no sense. Other cults who thought themselves to be creatures from other planets were waiting for the UFO to take them back home and end their "visit" on Earth.

    Later it was discovered that two astronomers from the University of Hawaii had actually taken the photo and Shramek's had been altered to add the object. Oh, how gullible people were before the magics of social media and Photoshop were well known. I'll be right back, I need to drink my Acai, wheatgrass and bacon shot.

    The Heaven's Gate cult has been made fun of in various parts of pop culture and has become one of the many cult laughing stocks that we now have forever. We have that information now, and can make fun of it whenever we want, so maybe it's not that big of a fail.

    This is probably the most notable of them all:

    The Leaderrrrrrrrrrr

  3. 11

    Botticelli's Mystical Nativity Bears Ominous Inscription

    The Mystical Nativity was the only painting Botticelli signed and with it wrote an inscription that said:

    "This picture, at the end of the year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, I Alessandro painted. In the half time after the time, during the fulfillment of the eleventh chapter of St. John in the second woe of the apocalypse."

    Botticelli was convinced that he was living in the times of the Tribulation (the pre-apocalyptic period described in the Bible during which the untrue would suffer great disasters) because a fanatical preacher named Savonarola had arrived in Florence in 1490.

    At first, he was seen as a prophet for having predicted the Italian War of 1494-1498 and talked the French king out of invading the city. Savonarola was a pimp like that. He sought to purge Florence of its artistic vanity and wealth by making its residents burn their luxuries and paintings.

    Savonarola was eventually executed, but Botticelli's inscription predicts an apocalypse in the 16th century and has been the key to reading The Mystical Nativity not only as a scene of salvation and goodness but one that foreshadows the second coming of Christ and has dark imagery such as demons fleeing to the Underworld.

    FUN FACT: There's actually a freakin red dragon in the Book of Revelations

  4. 8

    Early Heretic Montanus Founds End of the World Cult

    In the 2nd century, a native of what is now Turkey, Phrygia, and a pagan priest of an Oriental cult (yes, you can use this in a historical context) for Cybele (mother goddess of fertility) converted to Christianity and began a schism (or, an opposing group).

    His ecstatic revelations, which were supposedly directly from God and which he told in the first person, claimed that the end of the world was near.

    New Jerusalem was to drop from heaven right to his hometown of Pepuza, where only true believers would be allowed to live.

    Montanus, with a prophetess on each arm, Priscilla and Maximilla (both of which had left their husbands to join the cult), set out to purify his followers by making them fast and denying them material possessions. His followers had seizures and uttered phrases in strange languages that were interpreted as oracles of the Holy Spirit.

    Even though doomsday never came, the cult spread to North Africa and remained alive for centuries after Montanus and his two prophetesses had died and been buried in a shrine in Phrygia. Tertullian, the first Christian to compose in Latin, who came up with terms like The Trinity and Old and New Testaments was a devoted follower of Montanus' cult.

  5. 1

    Harold Camping Thinks the World is Ending This Weekend (Just Like He Did in 1994 and on May 21 ...

    Because this is just something people should know about (it's pretty funny, and a little sad), here's what's going on with this weekend's Rapture.

    And in everyone on this list's defense, it makes sense that everyone thinks they're in the "end times" because life, in general, for people in pretty much any era in human history, almost always seems like it can't get any worse.

    California-based Family Radio host Harold Camping is back with another prediction! Unlike most radio talk show hosts, he doesn't just predict game scores or celebrity hookups, no, Mr. Harold Camping predicts apocalypses (apocali?).

    It's fair to say most people deserve a second chance, but considering that the 89-year-old has been wrong about the world ending before, it's shocking that people still believe him this time.

    In his book 1994, Camping applied numerology to the Bible (every douchebag that read the Da Vinci Code is nodding knowingly to the mention of numerology) and predicted that Christ would return between September 15 and 17 of 1994. When nothing happened Camping said he'd made a mistake in his calculations. He apparently hadn't considered the Book of Jeremiah.

    After recalculating, he decided the world is actually going to end on May 21 (Saturday) of this year. And some people BELIEVE him. No really, look! His followers are dropping out of med school, leaving their wives and children, and spending all their savings to spread the world about The Rapture. He and his followers are spending over $3 Million raising awareness. $3 Million (American). Good luck this year, orphans!

    Here's his reasoning:
    1. According to Camping, judgment day should occur 7,000 years after the Flood. Biblical scholars claim the Flood took place May 21 of 4,990 B.C. God told Noah to warn the people 7 days before the flood and using a Bible passage 2 Peter 3:8, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," Camping treats each of the days as a thousand years.

    2. The second piece of "evidence" is based off of the notion that the world began in 11,013 B.C. and after its 13,000th anniversary on May 21st, 1988, the "church age" was over and Satan took control of them (Camping and his followers do not believe in organized religion).

    3. Numerology, once again, comes into the picture -- Christ was killed on April 1 33 A.D., that is 722,500 days from May 21, 2011. 722,500 is the product of this equation: (5 x 10 x 7)^2. These numbers apparently mean something special. Five is atonement, ten completeness and 17 heaven.

    What if the numbers in the equation had been cubed instead of squared, though?

    If you're having a hard time following the logic of this argument don't worry about it because the chances of you being one of the 3% that God is taking with him to Heaven on the day of Rapture are very slim anyway. Unless you live on a farm and are the type of person who doesn't wear open toed shoes because they're the devil's handtools, then you're most likely going to die with the rest of us people-who-get-laid-and-have-fun.

    We'll be left here until October 21 to suffer the most horrendous tortures you can think of (God will most likely waterboard the planet) -- think earthquakes and the destruction of Earth and yes, even the entire universe, because sometimes you've just gotta start fresh.

    When asked if past failed apocalyptic predictions (*cough* 1994 *cough*) place any doubts in the minds of the believers, Chris McCann, a member of eBibleFellowship, a group who is spreading the word about May 21st, said, "It would be like telling the Wright Brothers that every other attempt to fly has failed, so you shouldn't even try."

    Yes Chris McCann, it is just as hopeful as that.

  6. 4

    Joanna Southcott Claims She Will Give Birth to The Second Jesus in 1814

    If this lady existed in modern day, she would most likely write slash fiction.

    In 1814, a British virgin over 60 years old from Devon, England declared that she was the woman in Revelation (12:1-6) --

    1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
    2. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
    3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
    4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
    5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
    6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

    According to her visions, she was pregnant with the next Christ and would give birth to him on Christmas day of that year. Despite the certainty that she had already gone through menopause and could no longer reproduce, Southcott was convinced that she was the next Mary. The second coming of Jesus would mean judgment day.

    So where her prediction fell through was instead of giving birth on Christmas day, she died. So she was way off.

    This wasn't enough proof for her 100,000 followers, however. Some kept believing in her until their death and up until 1927, one woman even put a large fortune behind publishing Southcott's writings

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