Posts Tagged ‘harold camping’

– Hey, remember that film from last year, Carry on Camping, about the crazy old man who convinced a bunch of people the world was ending? They made a sequel.

– I don’t want to minimise any woman’s traumatic and invasive experiences, but Kim Novak was not raped. This seems like an excellent example of that low redefinition thing I was talking about the other day.

“You’re a fucking feminist. Deal with it. Don’t do feminist shit if you don’t want to be called out.” These are among the things said by feminists which makes me not want to be one.

– And the detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay has now been holding captives outside of legal US jurisdiction for ten years. By this point, Gitmo is as much Obama’s thing as it ever was Bush’s.

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Or possibly, Rapture II: Die Rapturer.

Anyway. Tomorrow is Harold Camping’s second attempt to correctly predict the end of the world (this year). But it might surprise you to learn that his first attempt was, in fact, entirely successful.

It turns out that May 21st, when everyone was holding their breath and excitedly awaiting the abrupt end of all life on the planet, was actually an administrative deadline. It was the day when God finished dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, and filed the paperwork on Earth’s official liquidation. That’s why it looked deceptively like absolutely nothing happened. It was all going perfectly according to plan.

October 21st, though: that’s when the whole physical world “will be annihilated”. For realz. It won’t just be a behind-the-scenes, data-entry armageddon this time around. It’s the real deal. And if you didn’t get your eternal salvation logged and notarised at least five months ago, then boy are you in trouble at the Day of Judgment and Auditing.

Of course, Harold Camping’s not a particularly interesting or original character. Rationalising away your obvious mistakes, and fervently holding beliefs entirely unsupported by facts, aren’t even specific to religious people. And he’s old and tired, and isn’t going to want to make a major adjustment to his worldview at this stage in life, especially if he was loopy enough to become so committed to an obviously barmy idea like this in the first place.

But given how many people gave up their homes and livelihoods last time, on the word of one old man – and how many others make similarly inane sacrifices or acts of devotion based on equally imaginary Biblical prophesy, every day – it’s a pathology that can still be worth examining. It can be good to remind ourselves that this kind of ludicrous behaviour is something that people do. That’s not meant as a point of condemnation or despair of humanity, but an interest in the important subject of understanding ourselves.

Camping and his crowd are kooks, but we shouldn’t let their particular kookiness tempt us to “other” them too completely. They’re experiencing logic failures of the kind to which we’re all susceptible – and which it’s fascinating to attempt to understand, and develop techniques for avoiding.

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Unsurprisingly, the fact that the Rapture palpably did not occur when he was 100% certain it would has not shaken Harold Camping’s blind faith in his worldview.

He still claims that his interpretation of the Bible is as reliable a guide as ever, and October 21st will definitely see the end of the universe.

Now there’s a guy who doesn’t get Bayesian probability.

The way he’s explaining things away is by declaring that Judgment Day did happen – it’s just that it was a “spiritual aspect” of the end of the world. Which, conveniently, is indistinguishable from absolutely nothing happening. Spiritual stuff’s good like that. It can happen any time you like, and look like whatever you want it to.

And I think you’ll find I totally called it. (Kinda. I suppose it was sadly inevitable. I mean, what else is he going to do, change his mind about his own personal interpretation of his particular holy book on the basis of evidence? Please.)

I hope a good few of his followers have given up on him now, and I hope the ones who threw their life savings away based on this nutcase’s prediction have some luck putting their lives back together. As for those who are sticking by him, and who are going to be disappointed and start rationalising yet again come October… Well, I’m inclined to think reality doesn’t owe them anything if they’re going to ignore it like that.

Oh, and if what strikes you as crazy about all this is simply the fact that he claims to know when God’s going to call a halt to his creation, because it says in the Bible that nobody knows when the end of the world will be… then, well, what PZ said.

By the way, I promise I did think of the title to this post before reading The Freethinker‘s article. It’s just too fitting not to use.

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So, has the rapture happened? Is it safe to come out now? Anyone had any luck looting the possessions left behind by the faithful? I live directly below a Reverend in the Church of England; I might pop up later and see if she had a decent flatscreen.

Alternatively, in the unlikely event that God’s chosen people haven’t been lifted up to Heaven over the weekend, how are the faithful rationalising things this time? Have the calculations which couldn’t possibly be wrong turned out to be wrong? Or was it one of those infallible prophecies that was fulfilled spiritually, but not physically? I think a few end-of-days cults have pulled that one off before, convincing themselves that they’ve been proved right by the way that absolutely nothing happened.

I’m not inclined to give any deep analysis of this one. Just remember that what drove all this lunacy – in which people died, remember – was that some guy read the Bible, and had a sincere faith in the conclusions he drew from it. If that’s something which can also be said about you, don’t be too hasty to call him a nut just because his evidence-free conclusion was different from yours.

Well, anyway. I guess it’s back to normal for the rest of us.

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