Roll on midnight – or why the Doomsday Clock is an abdication to cowardice

August 6th is Hiroshima Day and it is now 69 years since the Enola Gay dropped its bomb and the nuclear weapons age began. In 2010, there were about 227,00 hibakusha (被爆者) still alive. In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki met their Doom. But such is the resilience of man that, today, less than 4 generations later, both are thriving cities. Hiroshima has a population today of 1.2 million compared to the 340,000 before the bomb. For Hiroshima and Nagasaki their Doomsday Clocks reached midnight and moved on – into yet another day.

The Doomsday Clock was “invented” in 1947 and, of course is purely symbolic. It is “set” by a group of alarmists to represent the time left before a human induced catastrophe (nuclear war, global warming, genetic modification, disease …) strikes at the “symbolic” hour of midnight. But this symbolism is flawed, rather stupid and just plain wrong. They use midnight as a symbol of the end of things whereas – certainly for me and, I suspect, for most people – midnight is just the start of another day. And when that day ends there will be yet another one to come. When it was first set in 1947 the alarmists of the time reckoned that humanity was 7 minutes away from their “midnight”.  In 1953 the clock was set to 2 minutes to midnight. The time to catastrophe has gone up and down over the years and reached 17 minutes in 1991 when the Berlin Wall fell and optimism ran high – even among the professional pessimists. Currently pessimism has taken over again and we stand just 5 minutes from catastrophe.

Doomsday Clock - Wikipedia

Doomsday Clock – Wikipedia

The Doomsday Clock is nothing more than a subjective – and less than qualitative –  assessment of the state of the world by a group of alarmist pessimists.

Naom Chomsky has a new article in The Unz Review – “How many minutes to midnight”. I’m afraid I do not have the same high opinion of Chomsky – even on language which is his own field – that others seem to have . But on the concept of the Doomsday Clock and the time left for impending disaster, his article is little more than well written drivel. He looks down on most of humanity – apart from himself of course – with a great deal of contempt when he writes

…. August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but — so the evidence suggests — not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.

Chomsky’s article is not particularly insightful but it serves as an example of the cowardice that alarmists exhibit. Cowardice is the subjugation of actions to fear whereas courage is the subjugation of fears to actions for a purpose. Alarmism and the Doomsday Clock pander to fear. Catastrophe theories never – ever – come to pass. But raising false alarms gets headlines, gets funding and usually provides lucrative opportunities for some. Fending off Doomsday rather than working to some objective becomes the priority of the hour. Political action is diverted to avoidance rather than to achieve goals.

Roll on midnight – and the start of another day!

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