A reporter tracks down the remnants of Harold Camping’s apocalyptic movement and finds out you don’t have to be crazy to believe something nuts.
This is a typical mindset:
He would not entertain the possibility, even hypothetically, that the date could be off. “This isn’t a prediction because a prediction has a potential for failure,” he told me.
“Even if it’s 99.9 percent, that extra .1 percent makes it not certain. It’s like the weather. If it’s 60 percent, it may or may not rain. But in this case we’re saying 100 percent it will come. God with a consuming fire is coming to bring judgment and destroy the world.”
I encountered this same certainty again and again.
It’s been noted by scholars who study apocalyptic groups that believers tend to have analytical mindsets. They’re often good at math. I met several engineers, along with a mathematics major and two financial planners. These are people adept at identifying patterns in sets of data, and the methods they used to identify patterns in the Bible were frequently impressive, even brilliant. Finding unexpected connections between verses, what believers call comparing scripture with scripture, was a way to become known in the group. The essays they wrote explaining these links could be stunningly intricate.
This reporter did a fine job at following through. I found a number of interesting points in here. First, these people were not dumb. They simple saw more of what there was to see. Patterns that weren’t there, connections that didn’t really connect. Paranormally inclined people do this as well. There is a similarity.
Also, I note the mention of engineers… You can see other posts where I note that engineers are not scientists. There was a bit of a bout about that. I stand by my conclusions, an engineering mind is not a scientific mind.
Note the points in here about editing the past, mistaken memories and justifying behaviors. Some even did lose faith. It might be a wake up call.
As I noted, we shall see this again later this year. Will it be interesting? Yes. Pretty? No. It will be just as sad and ugly. It’s not fair to say “I told you so.” But to recognize that humans easily fall prey to shoddy thinking. Some just get wrapped up in more serious decisions than others.