End of Time Prediction (03:53)
Doomsday believers talk about their conviction that the world will end on May 21, 2011, based on radio host Harold Camping’s calculation. This film will explore how we turn beliefs into certainties and mistake them for the truth. Camping and media relations manager Tom discuss keptics.
Project Raise Your Banner (02:39)
Camping taught the bible on Family Radio for decades before calculating the "End of Time" He responds to a skeptic on Open Forum, one month before Judgment Day. Followers distribute signs and pamphlets; the organization has 1,200 billboards across the U.S.
Spreading the Word (02:06)
Former stock trader Karo passes out pamphlets in Los Angeles. Followers recall feeling skeptical when they first heard Camping's Judgment Day prediction.
Skepticism to Certainty (02:36)
Psychologist Carol Tavris and social psychologist Elliot Aronson use a pyramid analogy to explain how people can become entrapped in a set of beliefs diverging from original intentions. The more time and effort invested, the harder it is to admit they are wrong.
Belief Experiment (03:59)
Philosophy student Maurice's family does not share his belief in Camping's Judgment Day prediction. He participates in a study by neuroscientists Pamela Douglas and Mark Cohen looking at differences in brain activity between believers and disbelievers. How they accept something as true is similar.
Life Changing Decisions (02:58)
Karo and his wife Larissa discuss gradually accepting Camping's prediction as truth. Karo gave up his trading career; they live each day as if it were their last. Retail manager Jane quit her job to wait for Judgment Day.
Waiting for the World to End (03:52)
Family Radio programming manager Sue is Camping's daughter. She discusses her path to accepting his prediction as truth, and how it affects her relationship with her children. Followers refuse to accept money to participate in a business study after May 21, 2011.
Judgment Day Mission (02:21)
Followers travel to Sacramento, Boise, and Salt Lake City to spread Camping's message that the world will end on May 21, 2011. Maurice discusses fallacies in the induction principle and reaffirms his belief in Camping's prediction.
Calculating Judgment Day (03:10)
Camping and his colleagues used a biblical calendar to determine the "End of Time" would occur on May 21, 2011. He previously predicted a day in 1994; people accused him of false prophecy when it did not occur. Followers explain the discrepancy as misinterpretation.
Preparing for Judgment Day (03:13)
On May 19, Camping assures skeptics it will happen this time. On May 20, Jane and other followers wait at home in California for news of the rapture and earthquake that they believe will start in the Pacific Islands and spread east.
Judgment Day Fails (03:41)
Tavris explains that, as the world does not end at the predicted time, believers start feeling anxiety and cognitive dissonance. Jane uses Camping's message spreading across the U.S. to legitimize her conviction. On May 21, 2011, believers push back the rapture time or start questioning the prophecy.
Day After Judgment Day (04:24)
Camping refuses interviews on May 22, 2011. Val recalls becoming disillusioned by prophecy dates after Camping's 1994 failure. On May 23, Camping tells the press his prediction is still spiritually true. He says followers who gave up their jobs and homes will cope until October 21—when the world literally ends.
Psychology of Being Wrong (02:06)
When Judgment Day did not come, believers experienced cognitive dissonance—a feeling they wanted to escape. They could change their view of themselves, dismiss the evidence, or try to learn from their mistakes.
Search for Answers (03:37)
Eight days after Judgment Day, Camping presents followers with an explanation of why the world did not end: God has begun the rapture in a spiritual sense. Many are upset and confused. Louie has to look for work.
Admitting Error (03:40)
Jane questions how she and other followers could be wrongly convinced of Camping's Judgment Day prophecy. As a participant in a study on believing, Maurice takes longer to respond to questions about the prediction. Brain scans show activity in internal conflict and introspection areas.
Cognitive Dissonance Theory (03:05)
Tavris explains that we all have beliefs lacking supportive evidence—but we need integrity and courage to admit error. Good people justify doing bad things to preserve their belief that they are good people. Maurice reflects on the ongoing search for truth.
Doomsday Epilogue (01:05)
In June 2011, Camping suffered a stroke; in March 2012, he admitted to being wrong about Judgment Day. He passed away in December 2013. Sue and Tom took over Family Radio operations. Hear how other followers resumed their lives. Many have rejected date setting.
Credits: Right Between Your Ears (01:22)
Credits: Right Between Your Ears
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