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The End of the World: A Brief Look

The earth, I’m pretty sure we can all agree, is doomed. Even if you disregard the fact that mankind is gobbling up all of her natural resources, there’s still the fact that outer space is full of giant rocks that would like nothing less than to hit our world-head on. Once these space rocks get over congratulating themselves over delivering that extinction-level sucker punch to the dinosaurs and turn their eyes on us, we’re in trouble. And I won’t even mention the thousands of nuclear weapons divided among various earthly governments. Did you ever read A Canticle for Liebowitz? Humanity is really between the devil and the deep blue sea, here.

But there is some good news! I’m no bitter pessimist, so I know that every thundercloud has a silver lining, even if it’s the one that kills you with lightning. We can all, I’m sure, look on the bright side when we recall that 100% of the end-of-the-world scenarios predicted by UFO enthusiasts have failed to come true.

A large portion of the people that come into contact with UFOs end up making grand predictions about the fate of mankind in general or the specific manner in which our planet is doomed. Here, solely for your entertainment and to make you realize how bad things could be, is a short discussion of some of these events.

Let’s start at the beginning of the UFO mystery, that is, slightly before the end of the 19th century. In 1897 the occupants of one of the strange ‘airships’ related unto a gentleman named James Southard that they planned to use their powers of flight to utterly destroy the Spanish navy within the week. However, this was not to be, and to my friends across the sea, I say “¡Felicitaciones!”

That’s not the end of the world, though. That was just a fun appetizer. Feast your eyes, and wrap your mind, around this: A man named Hehr claimed that, in 1903, he was told that a third world war would by the end of the human race. Maybe that’s the case, but it’s not going to turn out the way he thought: he claimed that an ancient race of spacemen, currently residing on Venus, were dusting off their old flying saucers, and training a new army to pilot them. These saucers would be needed to abduct a handful of human beings, with whom the entire human race could be repopulated and live in a new era of peace. The start date for this third world war was to have been 1960, with total anarchy and chaos reigning for five years, until the abductees returned to repopulate our devastated world. I wasn’t around then, but I called my father and asked if there had been a third world war in 1960. He called me weird and asked me why I didn’t have anything better to do than write about doomsday prophecies from UFO nuts. Yeah, well, everyone needs a hobby. Anyway, there was no third world war.

On October 25th, 1973 a man named Stephen Pulaski encountered a UFO. Among the occupants of this strange craft was, apparently, the Grim Reaper himself, who predicted that the whole world will die, burning, in 1976. I find this interesting for several reasons: first, the Grim Reaper is real, and not just a weird character in Scandinavian Existential films. Second, he’s from outer space! And third, he’s apparently kind of a dick- not only did the world not burn in 1976, but I can’t even find any wide-scale fires that you could pretend fulfilled this prediction.

But wait! This sort of thing didn’t just occur in the hippie era. There are just as many lunatics predicting doomsday now as there have been before. When I lived on Spring Garden street, I remember watching public-access TV and seeing an infomercial for a cult leader who called himself Yahweh. I remember remarking that the guys seemed a little weird, and then changed the channel. Imagine my surprise when I learned that, in 2003, he announced that he would arrange a prayer caravan to a holy mountain outside of Los Angeles. There, he planned to bring UFOs down to meet his worshippers, on his signal. He would videotape the whole thing and, at some point, every person on earth would see his friends the space aliens, either in person, on TV, or via the internet, leading to some sort of spiritual…thing that would change the face of the earth as we know it. I’m not sure if he actually made the journey to Los Angeles, but I am certain that I’ve never seen a space alien, so his prediction is at least half wrong.

But it’s not just the lunatics at the fringe of the fringe that are making these predictions! Perhaps you’ve heard of Whitley Streiber, author of the famous alien-abduction novel Communion? Coincidentally, the guy who is to blame for every time I wet my bed as a child, since they had the book at the library and I tried to read it a number of times, peeing myself in terror each time I did? Anyway, in the 1986 he held a press conference to announce that his alien visitors had given him startling news: because of our abuse of the ozone layer, we were pretty much up a creek. Crops would become well nigh impossible to grow, more ozone holes would open up over both the north and south poles, diseases would multiply like rabbits watching porn, and so on. None of it came true. After ten years, crops were so plentiful that that they were at all-time low prices; if there are any new holes over the arctic we can’t tell they’re there; and if diseases became more common and more virulent, I sure didn’t notice. Interestingly, Strieber insists that all three of his predictions came true, citing one or two very specific papers that state that plant cells are getting smaller and that rabies has become more common, but you’d have to be pretty liberal with your interpretation of events to come to the same conclusion as he did.

So, none of the thousands of doomsday predictions forwarded by UFO enthusiasts has come true. Bless their souls, UFO researchers aren’t willing to say that this means these particular encounters with UFOs are made up; they have an explanation for this. They admit that stories told by people ‘abducted by aliens’ are littered with doom, destruction, pestilence, war, nuclear annihilation, and catastrophe. There’s no arguing that; the stories are there. Their reasoning goes that since human beings can lie, aliens are probably capable of lying when they feel like it. And they lie to abductees when they tell them that the world is going to end. In fact, it’s the most horrible, terrible lie they could possibly tell, and they do so just to get a rise out of people, to get them angry. Spacemen from beyond the stars tell humans that the world is going to end not because it is going to end, but to see how humans react when they heard the news.
If you ignore for a moment the whole question of whether or not aliens actually exist and fly around abducting people, this is a pretty good explanation. If aliens really exist, and if they are really telling people these things, it’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they do so. I can’t think of a single reason it doesn’t make sense, if you make the assumption that aliens exist. I enjoy a good water-tight logical argument as much as the next chap, and so to the UFO enthusiasts, I tip my hat: you’ve got me on this one. You win this round.

The tales above are just a few examples. If I were to write three words about every time a UFO enthusiast made the claim that the world was going to end, I’d have a book that was twice as large as my car. I certainly can’t say what will happen in the future, and I can’t even say that aliens did not actually tell these people these things; but I can say with absolute, gold-plated certainty that the world has yet to end.

Be seeing you.