When Prophecy Fails

When Prophecy Fails

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When Prophecy Fails

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When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO cult that believes the end of the world is at hand.

Cognitive dissonance

Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations. One of the first published cases of dissonance was reported in the book, When Prophecy Fails (Festinger et al. 1956). Festinger and his associates read an interesting item in their local newspaper headlined "Prophecy from planet Clarion call to city: flee that flood." A housewife from Chicago (changed to "Michigan" in the book), given the name "Marian Keech" (real name: Dorothy Martin, later known as Sister Thedra), had mysteriously been given messages in her house in the form of "automatic writing" from alien beings on the planet Clarion. These messages revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954. Mrs. Keech had previously been involved with L.......
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