Five Phrases from the ‘List of Failed Apocalyptic Predictions’ Wikipedia Page That Merit Closer Inspection

Every apocalypse prediction has been wrong… so far
Five Phrases from the ‘List of Failed Apocalyptic Predictions’ Wikipedia Page That Merit Closer Inspection

Still have Rapture Fever from the eclipse, the earthquake, the cicadas and the northern lights? Buddy, have I got a dangerous rabbit hole for you: Wikipedia’s “List of Dates Predicted for Apocalyptic Events.”

Here are a few phrases that popped out to me as I was grazing this buffet of paranoia…

‘Fly and Walk Through Walls’

By far, the best apocalypse on this list. You get to watch capitalism implode in one big, catastrophic collapse, and you get ghost powers? Sign me up!

Cult leader José Luis de Jesús Miranda rose through the ranks of Miami’s Baptist church scene: from volunteer, to minister, all the way up to Jesus. At certain points, Paul the Apostle and the Antichrist also kind of John Malkovich’d themselves into Miranda’s head. The man contained multitudes.

He predicted that on or around June 30, 2012, the world’s economies and major governments would collapse, and the followers of his cult, Growing in Grace, would gain the ability to fly, walk through walls and walk through fire. All without having to defeat a single Mega Man boss. That never came to pass, and he died the next year, of cirrhosis of the liver. 

Except no he didn’t! He reappeared one month later, in perfect health! 

But then a month later, he died for real. 

Except no he didn’t! His church claims he’s immortal. 


Sure, every apocalypse prediction to date has been a failed one, but the word “fail” on this list often implies the plucky young cult leader dusted off their Nike Decades and tried again. Declaring that the world is going to end during your lifetime is a rookie mistake, but it’s not insurmountable. 

Take Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, who had to revise his due date for Armageddon four separate times between 1936 and 1975. Or apocalypse visionary Joachim of Fiore, who predicted the world would end in 1260. He died in 1202, but his followers, the Joachimites, got an extension to 1290, then again to 1335. 

You don’t even have to go too far down the rabbit hole of obscure cults — lots of early Christians thought the world would end in the year 1,000. You can’t really blame them; it’s a nice round number, and frankly, a pretty long reign for one guy. But when that prediction fell flat, they figured: Wait, it’s gotta be 1,000 years after his death. False alarm, everyone, see you again in 1033.

On the other hand, there were a few guys who were logistically unable to reschedule the end of the world. In 1534, Jan Matthys led an attack on the Holy Roman Empire on the day the world was to end, but only succeeded in getting himself decapitated. Edgar C. Whisenant painted himself into a corner when he published the book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988. When that didn’t pan out, he published a hilarious rebuttal to his haters, On Borrowed Time. When Harold Camping’s 2011 rapture didn’t go as planned, he said there had been an invisible “Spiritual Judgment.”

But the apocalypse isn’t just for religious freaks anymore. In recent centuries, we’ve got…


If you’re reading this, congratulations: You’ve survived the 13th b’ak’tun! That’s a big part of the whole gumbo of conspiracy theories that congealed around the 2012 finale to the Mayan calendar. The Mayans almost definitely did not think the world was going to end, but one “scholar” published some word salad in 1966 — “our present universe (would) be annihilated ... when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion” — giving the bored and the paranoid several decades to slow cook those theories.

George Van Tassel was one such bored, paranoid weirdo. His resume includes gas station attendant, Lockheed aircraft mechanic, ufologist and alien medium. He claims to have been contacted by an alien named Ashtar, who taught him to build the “Integratron,” a small building that made him capable of time travel and antigravity. Ashtar also told Van Tassel that on August 20, 1967, the Soviets would nuke the southeastern United States.

Another contactee, Nancy Lieder, followed suit a few decades later. She claimed that a race of aliens in the Zeta Reticuli star system warned her that, on May 27, 2003, a rogue planet would swing through our solar system and reverse Earth’s poles, causing untold destruction. You can still read her website, if you’re curious.

If God and aliens aren’t your thing, perhaps I can interest you in some math?


When you think of apocalyptic predictions, you tend to imagine an angel visiting someone tripping on a toad they didn’t know was psychedelic, or maybe a smattering of tea leaves or pig entrails. Even just a strong hunch. But the truth is, even the religious stuff “often takes the form of mathematical calculations.”

A cabal of London astrologers predicted a huge flood would occur on February 1, 1524, based on some random Bible math. Their little open letter caused 20,000 people to flee the city. And when absolutely nothing happened that day, they said: We crunched the numbers, and it’s actually supposed to happen 100 years from today.

Quantifiably the worst prediction on this entire list: John Wroe, founder of the Christian Israelite Church, predicted that the new Millennium would begin in 1863. Like, maybe God would open a different save file or something? It’s unclear why he thought a new Millennium would start kinda right in the middle of the one that was already happening.

But even Wroe’s weird blunder doesn’t beat the gigantic boner committed by apocalypse forecaster and alleged witch, Mary Bateman. She cooked up a diabolical plan, in which she…

‘Reinserted the Eggs Back Into the Hen’s Oviduct’

The city of Leeds was home to a real-life, live-action, gritty pre-boot of Babe in 1806. But instead of a spider writing short love letters to a pig, it was a hen laying eggs that predicted the rapture. 

Mary Bateman led a life of crime and debauchery, and would ultimately be executed for murder. But before her mortal coil was forcibly shuffled off by the state, she pulled one hell of a prank: She wrote “Christ is coming” on her father’s hen’s eggs in a corrosive ink, then — you guessed it — “reinserted the eggs back into the hen’s oviduct,” leaving them for her father to find later.

Great prank! Unfortunately, her other pranks involved defrauding and poisoning vulnerable people, and she was ultimately hanged. Say what you will about the Jackass boys, but even Steve-O knows where to draw the line on hijinks.

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