Colin is an Irish writer whose first book, Young Skins, was published in 2014, and whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta and Stinging Fly.

Colin Barrett

When Prophecy Fails

Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schacter

When Prophecy Fails, by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schacter, is a classic text of social psychology, originally published in the mid fifties. A close case study of a UFO Apocalypse cult led by a Chicagoan housewife, the book was best known for popularizing the idea of cognitive dissonance, but to me it reads like a great novel Don DeLillo never wrote: the end days are prophesied, the end days refuse to come, and the constellation of believers can only doubledown on their belief. Anyone interested in writing fiction should read it.