Last summer, I was walking with Elizabeth from one subway line to another — I believe that we were going from the F line to the R line, which connects at a few stations including Times Square 42nd Street. At one juncture there was a group of individuals all with signs that proclaimed the same thing — that Judgement Day was coming on May 21, 2011, and that we should all beware. We were not too bothered as we live in New York and see kooky signs like this on a regular basis.
In the long months that have passed since then, the organization responsible for those people walking around with the signs have stepped up their efforts, with their followers spending tens of thousands of their own dollars on similar advertisements. One individual who is a former MTA employee sunk his life savings into putting up ads on buses and the subway system.
The ads, incidentally, give me giggles — as I suspect they do to the majority of people who see them. People are well aware that this is not the first group of people to predict that the world would end and have been wrong. Moreover, the person responsible for this particular doomsday prophesy group has made predictions that have been dead wrong and have just shrugged them off, stating that their calculations must have been just erroneous at the time and that they are certain that they are correct this time around.
It is wrong to get people to lose their life savings in advertisements for quack Judgement Day groups, even if you are completely convinced that you are correct. It is all well and good to make disclaimers that you don’t force anyone to invest any money that they don’t want to invest but the moment that you start saying that people need to be aware that Judgement Day is coming, it is the same moment that you need to say that you will personally finance any advertisements that people want to put out — especially the sort of advertisements that can bankrupt an individual.
When Sunday comes around and there aren’t rolling earthquakes destroying the world, what will the people who lost their money have to say? Surely at that point there will be excuses about why the calculations were wrong once more — but will that bring back the money of the people who lost it all?