Here’s where Harold Camping went wrong.
Camping, charitably described as the president of Family Radio and less charitably as con man or flippin’ idiot, predicted a specific event at a specific time before that event had occurred or time had arrived.
Successful prognosticators know that the best predictions are vague as to nature and timing and are best understood after the event has occurred.
Take Nostradamus for example. No one in history has been afforded such respect when it comes to foreseeing the future. Tabloids tout his track record as if he’s as reliable as gravity. He is given credit for accurately predicting everything from pasteurization to World War II to the Cold War to 9-11.
Yet not once based on his writings has anyone actually predicted an event before it happened and taken action to prevent it. If Nostradamus predicted the French Revolution, why did Marie Antoinette make that stupid joke about cake?
The secret lies in the ability to write open-ended jibberish that can be applied later to fit circumstances that have unfolded.
If Nostradamus wrote, “Winds from the north make turtle dance on wet breadbox,” his supporters would give him credit for calling the floods of 2011.
But in spite of Camping’s amateurish gaffe of speaking prematurely in plain English about the ascension of the righteous into heaven, he seems to have prophet-ed nicely. He’s reportedly worth, through his radio network, some $72 million. He dropped into seclusion after Saturday came and went without so much as a parting heaven or a shifting tectonic plate. He’s said to be “flabbergasted” that his prediction was wrong.
I could live very comfortably in flabbergasted seclusion with $72 million.
So I hereby declare myself a seer.
By way of qualifications, I offer two points.
First, according to the e-mail I get, I am already blessed with the talent of writing open-ended jibberish. Second, in the tradition of Nostradamus, I have a record of successful predictions dating back years.
For example: In 2008 I wrote: “Students take the reading and math FCAT test for the first time in third grade.” The words, first, math and test are clearly in reference to the presidential campaign that resulted in the election of the nation’s first black president later that year.
In 1997, I predicted the 1998 scandal enveloping Bill Clinton and university graduate Monica Lewinsky, which captured the attention of millions and threatened to land a president in jail, when I wrote, “Inmates have been clearing melaleuca from the Florida Gulf Coast University site. Across the state, melaleuca has overrun a million acres of public land.”
The year 2005 witnessed unusual turnover in the ranks of the U.S. Supreme Court, culminating with the appoint of John Roberts as Chief Justice, all of which I foretold in 2002 with this prophecy: “The Naples City Council today will consider adopting Roberts Rules of Order as its standard of conduct.”
Earlier this year I was spot on with this prediction about the Arab Spring uprisings sweeping the Middle East. “Neighborhood disharmony reached a new high, or low, last month in the Crescent Garden development.” The Middle East, after all, is one big neighborhood, disharmony rules and the region is often symbolized by a crescent.
My latest prediction: Harold Camping will emerge from seclusion, offer some lame explanation about a mathematical error and issue a new date on which the world will end. And some people will believe him.
Of course, there’s any number of ways this prediction can be interpreted.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten