The top 5 not-quite apocalypses

Palenque MexicoWe’ve got some bad news. Earth is on the way out. In fact, if the history of our planet were a movie trilogy, we’d be halfway through Return of the Jedi by now.

Don’t grab your supplies and head to the bunker just yet though. Yes, the earth is already 4.5 billon years old – but scientists are confident it will be around long enough to work out how to fit 5.11 billion candles on its birthday cake.

But of course, there will always be those people who jump the gun. So in honour of all who were convinced we’d never make it to 2013, here’s a look back at some of the not-quite-apocalypses that we’ve survived so far…

#5 Jim Jones:
Claim: The world will be wiped out by nuclear weapons in 1967.

Jim Jones is known for many things. A successful apocalypse prediction is not one of them. Perhaps dismayed by the fact that the world was still orbiting the sun 10 years after he’d forecasted its complete destruction, Jones and his creepy cult staged their own End of Days ceremony in a remote part of Guyana.

SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t work out so well…

#4 Harold Camping:
Claim: According to the Bible, the world should have ended at least ten times by now.

For most of his life, Harold Camping has been engaging in his own, far less exciting version of the Da Vinci Code – scouring the Bible for clues about the Rapture. Apparently, this work is quite complicated, and results in a few inaccuracies from time to time. By ‘from time to time’, we mean that Camping seems to have developed a severe case of apocalypse Tourette’s. In 1994, he predicted the end of the world 3 times in a single month! And he was back at it again in 2011, reportedly ‘flabbergasted’ that fire didn’t rain from the sky. He’s since retired from making predictions, much to the dismay of his 25 remaining followers.

#3 Dorothy Martin:
Claim: Planet to be destroyed. Aliens to rescue those that are worthy.

Predicting the end of the world is a pretty thankless affair. Even if you get it right, there’s not going to be a whole lot of people left to congratulate you on your incredible foresight. Get it wrong however, and every single person on earth becomes a living reminder of your error. That’s why UFO enthusiast Dorothy Martin built an ‘escape clause’ into her prediction. When (surprise, surprise) an alien spaceship failed to arrive to pick her and her followers up, she simply ‘contacted’ the Aliens again, who informed her that they’d decided to spare earth because of her devotion to the cause. So next time you see an alien, be sure to thank them for their generosity!

#2 Y2K:
Claim: Something about dates and computers. Then explosions.

See that little calendar icon at the bottom of your screen? It’s hard to believe, but that was once considered a dangerous doomsday device. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, most of the world became convinced that computers simply weren’t built with the year 2000 in mind. According to the theory, at midnight on the 31st of December, 1999, planes were going to fall out of the sky, power stations would explode and the world’s missile silos would take on a mind of their own. You laugh now, but anyone who experienced Y2K will admit throwing a few nervous glances toward their robot Furby when the clock struck midnight.

#1 The Mayans:
Claim: The planets will line up. And that’s all she wrote for us.

Of all the insane theories on this list, the Mayan prediction is actually the most reasonable. For a civilisation that lived 1000 years ago, they had a pretty solid grasp on astrology and mathematics, so it makes sense that they might know something that we don’t about the ways of the universe. Adding to the mystique is the fact that one of the Mayan calendars (they had many) is entitled the Long Count, and was reportedly set to expire on the 21st of December 2012. Experts pointed out that when a calendar comes to an end, it normally means that a new cycle starts. But that wasn’t enough to stop the world descending into Mayan-mania, throwing end of the world parties and stocking up on tinned food and gas masks. Because evidently when it comes to ancient calendars, you can never be too careful.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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