Monday, June 13, 2011

The End of days

Hmm, what to discuss.
Well, there is always the economy which teeters on teeth gnashing and face-palming that begs the patience of the hoi-polloi and why they haven’t tarred and feathered a few Wall Street miscreants, or we could mentally masturbate to the idea of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmaan becoming a risible ticket for the Republican Party which would supply endless piles of material for political satire along with evidence of the demise of education in America.
But in all seriousness, I think I would like to discuss, underscore, nay, highlight one aspect of American society that actually exposes one of our nastier sides of our subconscious, and in fact, since it affected a lot of people world-wide, the inevitable failure of our species left to its own devices.
Of course, I speak of Howard Camping and his preposterous claims of doom.
Now, for those of you who hadn’t heard, Mr. Camping, a.k.a. the prophet of doom, claimed that May 21 would be the end of days, and of course, May 21 came and went like any other day except for quite a few people who spent their entire life savings on the belief that May 21 would be the end of days.
Now, I’m setting aside my own personal opinion about the particular actions because really, what they did was pretty typical for the suicide cults, but what I want us to discuss is this...

1: How does a person willingly fall for this kind of nonsense when all they had to do was actually read the bible that they claim to believe in and tells them, "no one knows the day or the hour"?


2: And is that person any different from the person who willingly voted for George W. Bush in November of 2004 when the it was quite clear that Mr. Bush was lying through his teeth, and made no attempt to hide his complete and utter disdain for the rule of Law?

What are your thoughts?


  1. Well, I don't know enough about other cultures to generalize this as "the human condition" or just as American culture. But I think Americans, in general, hate rules and impact their self interests, and there is also this almost universal American belief that we can't be wrong (individually more so than as a people). Two qualities that IMO can be our greatest strength as a nation, and at the same time, our greatest vulnerabilities.

    We don't like to have our self interests constrained by silly things like laws, or the exact wording the Book says. When early Americans didn't like constraints, they tarred and feathered someone, or they pushed west. Our history is littered with people who didn't like the rules imposed on them that infringement of their political/economic interests. Civil rights leaders, counter cultures, etc.

    I think that cults are just the extreme form of these two cultural aspects, disregard for rules we don't like, and a feeling that we are always right. Now add a charismatic leader who promises some needy people what they want to believe. But I am sure this is not just an American phenomenon, Doomsday cults are as old as time.

  2. The short answer is because people tend to confuse "facts" with the meaning of facts, analysis based on facts (ie. judgments), and mere opinion. That is a human frailty that isn't limited to cultists and Bush voters.

  3. 1] It is in our genes, and not just our American genes (is there such a thing as an American gene?). There is a doomsday in almost every culture and every religion.

    2] Some probably knew he was a lying sob. But it did not matter as he was their guy. It is a tribal thing nowadays. Their guy (or our guy) needs to win even if he is a draft-dodging phony. Because he was their guy he could do no wrong. Kind of like Marion Barry for white guys. For the other Bushistas, the true believers, it was Fox News.

  4. Dear World,
    Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendars end there because some Spanish d-bags invaded our country and we got a little busy ok?
    The Mayans

  5. Anyone know what the Campistas are doing now that May 21 wasn't..?

  6. Chief,
    ISTM that emotions trump facts in the voting booth.

  7. I remember reading somewhere that Camping's people came out on 5/22 or thereabouts announcing that the 21st was a math error and the REAL end-of-the-world is going to be sometime in September. I guess there really IS one born every minute.

  8. Even the "enlightened", "scientific", "AlGoreans", global warming (or climate change, or whatever the hell it is now) MSNBC watching crowd have their doomsday scenarios.

  9. Anon; WTF?

    There's "doomsday scenarios" and "ddomsday scenarios". Predicting a set of probably-unpleasant consequences resulting from human-actuated global temperature increases (let's call it the "Archer-Daniels-Midland Warm") is a doomsday scenario if you live on Padre Island; you're gonna lose your house to the Gulf of Mexico. It's not a good thing, for a lot of people. In past global climate change events such as the PETM ( had a whole slew of impacts, some "harmful", others "beneficial".

    But saying that God is gonna destroy the Universe as we know it?

    Different altogether. One of these things is NOT like the other...

  10. Just to put myself on the record about this stuff.....

    1. I do not believe in any of this doomsday horseshit. In fact, I believe anyone peddling this nonsense is either a charlatan and a liar or is a seriously deranged person. Yes, this world, as all worlds will, will end at some point—I mean, shit, the Sun will burn out eventually—but there is no human being who's ever lived who can in any way, shape or form accurately predict when that will happen.

    2. To the person who posted as "Anonymous" at 4:11 AM: although you're awfully opaque, I think you're questioning the issue of global warning. To that, I will respond: "Sir or madame, if you really do question global warming, you are undereducated. You are undereducated to the point where you substitute political sloganeering and hopeful thinking for whatever you may have learned along the way about science. Even worse, you likely believe something along the lines of, "well it won't happen on my watch, so it's not something I need to worry about." So, if you are indeed the sort of person I think you are, I'd say you're the sort of person who doesn't care about his/her children or the future of the living beings on this planet.

    So that would be me.

  11. For me, and this is what has hummed around in my head since this nonsense started (and trust me, I was laughing right up to the point where I saw children affected by the zealous nuttiness of their parents...then I stopped laughing and just shook my head in despair) but I watched all these people who sincerely believed that the world would end sans anything being leftover to rebuild from, and began wondering, "is there anything remotely different from these people, and the people who voted for George W. Bush?"

    If we were to label them as groups 1) Camping followers/listeners/believers, and group 2) Bush voters, and then compared the run-up to the eventual dates, both used apocalyptic language, both used fear, and both had a view of the future that corresponded to the end of days.

    For me, at least, I see no difference between the two, and thus I'm concerned that we are a society devoid of critical thinking, willingness to believe catastrophic endings without comment or debate, and foolishly throwing everything we hold dear away in the, imo at least, false hope that the person we bend our ear too will "get us out of the inevitable end that is coming."

    For me, I see this, but I'm wondering, does anyone see this, or is it only me?

  12. If you read Brian Jenkin's "Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?", he describes a tendency of the American public to be both "god-fearing" bible thumpers (believing in the apocolypse) and "end-of-times" believers, both of which emphasize this fear that those furriners are going to nuke a city inside the United States. I would argue that this tendency also shows up in the minority of the American public that went for Camper's bullshit. Hard to say why they do it, but it does seem ingrained in the American public as opposed to any other nation.