Friday, December 21, 2012

Cults Surviving Failed Prophecies

Just read this fascinating article from the BBC, Mayan prophecies: Life after the (non) end of the world.

For those who paid heed to their dire warnings, learning that life will in fact carry on as normal might be expected to be a deeply traumatic experience.
Surprisingly, however, groups which predict the end of the world have quite a good record of carrying on after the world is supposed to have ended, says Lorne Dawson, an expert in the sociology of religion at the University of Waterloo.
"The vast majority seem to shrug off the failure of prophecy fairly well," he says.
Of 75 groups identified by Dawson which predicted the apocalypse, all but six remained intact after catastrophe failed to materialise.
Indeed, many have gone on to flourish. Jehovah's Witnesses are viewed as having predicted some form of end several times and yet still have more than seven million followers.
The Seventh Day Adventists, who have an estimated 17 million members, grew out of the Millerites, whose failed apocalyptic forecast in 1844 became known as the Great Disappointment.

I would add that often failed prophecies caused much turmoil within these groups, but some remained within the group and kept it going. After the failed prophecies of 1914, 1925, and 1975 the Jehovah Witnesses saw many of their members leave after becoming disillusioned because of the failed prophecies.

Also within the old WCG there was a lot of turmoil after HWA's failed prediction that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972. No doubt once WCG members were no longer worried about an immanent end it gave them the freedom to question what they were taught by HWA and many saw through HWA's deceptions and courageously strived to change the situation in old WCG.

The article also states this:

For Jenkins, the appeal of leaders preaching the impending apocalypse down the ages has always been about far more than the specifics of their prophecies.
"It's a kind of rejection of the order of the world as it is," he says. "It's to do with imagining something far better. After it becomes apparent that the new order isn't going to come, there are ways of adjusting the message."

Indeed the hope for a better world arising out of the destruction of the old world seems to be a very common trope of end of the world beliefs.


  1. It's the the bad investment syndrome.

    Throw good money after bad, because you don't want to lose your investment.

    It's a really bad strategy though: You never get what you set out to get.


    They lie to you
    and then they take your money.

    You never get the money back, you don't get what you pay for and you keep expending more of it to get less.

    Think of it as financial entropy.

  2. >>They lie to you
    and then they take your money.<<

    Yes. So it is.

    And that's why I went out blogging in the hope that I might help someone else to get out of the mess of Armstrongism so they can stop throwing away money to the ravenous wolves of Armstrongism.

  3. And I appreciate it greatly.

    I know personally how difficult it is to keep a blog going and admire your efforts.

    It's discouraging sometimes to discover that cult members just aren't going to listen to reason and they would rather embrace slavery because it makes them feel good to their own destruction, rather than to accept proven scientific truth so they can escape to freedom (and keep the money they've earned as well as keep their family safe and provisioned).

    The Armstrongist leaders are bottom feeding leach predator blood sucking vampires.

    It would be so much better if people could wake up to the horror of the reality in which they are trapped and begin to live their lives, rather than turn them over to selfish petty despots.

    Keep doing what you are doing: We need all the voices crying in the wilderness we can get.