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Judgement Day, May 21 2011

We set up an exploratory analysis for this curious event.

WARNINGS by a US fundamentalist preacher that yesterday was
Judgment Day sent some people into hiding or scrambling to

Others planned to have parties to wave off good Christians
who were to be beamed up to heaven.

Tele-evangelist Harold Camping, 89, predicted that at 6pm in
each of the world's regions, the Rapture would happen and
good Christians would be beamed up to heaven.

In light of the prediction, thousands of Vietnamese Hmong
converged on Dien Bien province to call for a breakaway
Hmong kingdom after hearing on radio that Jesus was coming
on May 21.

In Ciudad Juarez, one of the hardest hit cities in Mexico's
drug wars, huge billboards proclaim that "Christ is coming
back on May 21".

According to the authorities, the apocalyptic message had
not provoked panic or hoarding, but one resident, Rosy
Alderete, said she was "worried by the coincidence" that
earthquakes have rocked the world in recent months.
Camping's prophecy says the end would be signalled in each
region by powerful earthquakes, after which the good will be
whisked up to heaven and the not-so-good will suffer through
hell on Earth until October 21, when God will pull the plug
on the planet once and for all.

I had not heard much about this, but had one email asking whether there was any precursor effect, and later some rather tongue in cheek news reports. It is not something I judged to be a "global event" of the sort we monitor, but decided to do an exploration, looking at the full UTC day. The result is slightly positive, but not persuasive of any effect.

Day, May 21 2011

It is important to keep in mind that we have only a tiny statistical effect, so that it is always hard to distinguish signal from noise. This means that every "success" might be largely driven by chance, and every "null" might include a real signal overwhelmed by noise. In the long run, a real effect can be identified only by patiently accumulating replications of similar analyses.

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