Behavior: The Deluge of Disastermania

Armageddon seems to be just a payday away

Hal Lindsey's book The Late Great Planet Earth sold more than 10 million copies. The semidocumentary movie made from it, with Narrator Orson Welles rumbling warnings that the world may be coming to an end, is currently among the top ten moneymakers out of Hollywood. Why the success of an apocalyptic message? "Storm warnings, portents, hints of catastrophe haunt our times," says Historian Christopher Lasch. "Impending disaster has become an everyday concern."

Indeed, Armageddon is something of a growth industry. In an avalanche of recent books,...

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