For a while, their message was everywhere. They paid for billboards, took out full-page ads in newspapers, distributed thousands of tracts. They drove across the county in RVs emblazoned with verses from the books of Revelation and Daniel. They marched around Manhattan holding signs. They broadcasted day and night on their network of radio stations. They warned the world. http://www.amazon.com/When-Prophecy-Fails-Leon-Festinger/dp/1578988527
“Although there is a limit beyond which belief will not withstand disconfirmation, it is clear that the introduction of contrary evidence can serve to increase the conviction and enthusiasm of a believer.”
When the world failed to end, they clung more tightly to their belief. Rather than folding, they doubled down.
More than anything, I think this particular event illustrates a lot of the problems we have in this country. The idea that we have so much invested in a particular thought or ideology that when confronted with actual evidence, people are inclined to simply double, or triple down on their ideology in order to not be wrong.
Now, in the real world we know that doesn't work, but within the sphere of politics, magically it... can.
What I find myself wondering is; is there a real consequence for the people who foster these kinds of manufactured crisis? It doesn't really seem to be that there is. Sure, they may lose a bit of 'credibility' but in return they've collected their fortune, and when they leave their followers are quickly forgotten about.