Bad Science

Oops! 11 Failed Doomsday Predictions

Harold Camping, 2011


Radio preacher Harold Camping predicted that May 12, 2011 would mark the beginning of the end of the world (Image credit: Karl Tate, TechMediaNetwork)

In May 2011, radio preacher Harold Camping drew international media attention with his predictions that Judgment Day would come on May 21, kicked off by earthquakes around the global and a rapture of the faithful. According to Camping, this dreadful day would be followed by months of torment and the end of the world on Oct. 21.

When May 21 passed quietly, Camping retreated from the limelight for a brief time before announcing that Judgment Day had, in fact, come and gone on that date. Instead of physical earthquakes, Camping wrote on the website of his radio station, Family Radio, May 21 brought spiritual earthquakes, and God completed judging souls. Now Camping contends that the end of the world will indeed come on Oct. 21, albeit quietly and without fire and brimstone. [Read: When Doomsday Isn't, Believers Struggle to Cope]

Benjamin Radford
Live Science Contributor
Benjamin Radford is the Bad Science columnist for Live Science. He covers pseudoscience, psychology, urban legends and the science behind "unexplained" or mysterious phenomenon. Ben has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in psychology. He is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and has written, edited or contributed to more than 20 books, including "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries," "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore" and “Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits,” out in fall 2017. His website is