Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Con Man Camping Still at it

Harold Camping has been manipulating his followers for decades with false promises of an imminent Rapture. His repeated date predictions have all failed and now the false prophet has defended the failure of his much trumpeted May 21 date with another blast of shoddy rationalization, claiming that the world will now end in five months. As one critic commented "Third time's the charm."

The general idea seems to be that some sort of vague spiritual event occurred on May 21, and the five months of tribulation Camping predicted will instead be skipped as an act of divine mercy. The October 21 date he picked for the actual destruction of the Earth still stands. He's claiming he was just wrong about the Rapture happening on May 21.

So what happened on the 21st?
"We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said during his show. "The only thing we didn't understand was the spirituality of May 21. We're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all."
Ahh, vague spiritual BS. That's what happened. It's like talking to a psychic or ghost hunter. Let's do some more digging to see if Camping elaborates:

Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.
"We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."
What, pray tell, is "an invisible judgment day" supposed to be? Does this mean God has randomly decided to just skip the bulk of the nasty, horrible things predicted in the Bible? Fark commentators take a stab at explaining Camping's "Invisible Judgment Day"(tm) and end up doing a better job illuminating the issue than Camping himself.

In the mean time, Camping's ministry has whitewashed the Family Radio Web site, scrubbing it of all mention of the failed May 21 prediction. It's a very Orwellian memory hole.

Bob Hansen, one of the poor fools who were promoting the idiotic May 21 date, granted an interview to discuss his reaction to the failed prediction. It's a very depressing example of "Sunk Cost" thinking. People who have invested a good deal of their time and resources, often burning bridges with  friends and family, have trouble accepting evidence that all their effort and sacrifice was wasted. Instead of admitting they were wrong and trying to make amends, they instead rationalize their decisions and try to find ways to excuse the failure that should have forced them to realize they'd been misled. This is the same psychological phenomena that keeps people trapped in Multi-Level-Marketing scams and Pyramid schemes.

PZ Myers has his own take on the matter that includes a lot of interesting links and a general condemnation of religion as a whole.

Then there's a chilling quote from Camping:

I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says. I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household.
Given such control over his wife, it's no surprise that instead of leaving the fraud, she's instead said she's "a little bewildered" at the complete and utter failure of is prediction. Apparently she's been wallowing in the false prophet's nonsense for too long to see clearly anymore. That, or she's afraid of him. He is pretty old school in many of his Bible interpretations.I wouldn't be surprise if he used a literal rod to beat his wife and children when they disobeyed.

The really chilling part of the quote is how Camping washes his hands of all responsibility for what's happened. It doesn't matter that it was his web of lies that ruined so many people financially and rent so many families asunder. Camping apparently believes it's THEIR fault for believing him. I wonder how many con artists use the same logic to absolve themselves of responsibility for cheating lonely old widows out of their savings.

In all of this only one group is really coming forward to try and help the people who were fooled by Camping. Atheist to Rapture Victims: You're Not Stupid. Funny how a group that's usually stigmatized by the religious is reaching out, while Camping is desperately trying to extend his exploitation of these people for another few months. Fark commentators disagree with the claim that Canning's followers aren't stupid.

I wonder what Jesus would think of this whole affair.

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