Should you change beliefs or behavior?
The world was supposed to end in 1954. It didn't, obviously. But that didn't seem to matter much to the people who believed it would. Remember that. It's important, especially if you want to change people's opinions or behavior. Looking back at 1954, though, you might not be surprised that some folks thought we were facing our end here on Planet Earth. While the year began with the happy news of Marilyn Monroe marrying Joe DiMaggio, there were plenty of not-so-happy things that followed. The Hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll. The McCarthy hearings, which inflamed the Communist "Red Scare." The introduction of the "domino theory" that suggested that any Communism we let pass would lead to Communists taking over (and the end of the Capitalist world as we knew it). The seeds of the Vietnam War. There were even appearances from outer space, in the form of a meteor crashing through a house. But Dorothy Martin of Oak Park, Illinois, got something else from outer space. Her outer space-based sources told her in no uncertain terms that the world was going to end on December 21, 1954. Before the world flooded that night, a flying saucer was going to come and pick them up from Martin's home altar (also known as her sun porch). She believed. So did her followers. They sold their homes and gave away their possessions. That night, the minutes ticked by. The saucer didn't come. The world didn't end. What did Martin and her believers do? The rational answer would be that they realized they were wrong, and in varying levels of sheepishness, admitted it and went on to rebuild their lives. Right? I mean, that's what rational people [...]