Professors insert heads up each others' asses...greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
TORONTO (CP) -- Planes falling from the sky, massive computer and power failures, food and water shortages -- these are the doomsday predictions about the new millennium that have some people running for the hills. But it's all superstitious bunk, say skeptics who are refusing to buy into the hype surrounding the early days of the year 2000. Our medieval ancestors bought into the dire scenarios and now -- 1,000 years later -- the panic is resurfacing like a latent virus. "We're as credulous and as superstitious and as awestruck as humans ever have been," said Mark Kingwell, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. Kingwell plans to stay around town next New Year's and his only concession is some firewood. Philosophy professor Bob Martin fully expects a stop at the local supermarket for groceries on Jan. 2, 2000 will be just that -- a shop for groceries. And Martin points out that the hysteria being felt by some -- including many across North America who are bunkering down as though Armageddon is near -- isn't anything new. Historical records show people were terrified in the closing days of 999. At the time, the widespread fears -- of an anti-Christ or Armageddon -- were defined in religious terms, Martin said. Historically, doomsday predictions were often associated with "number magic," he said. It's a phenomenon that endures today. "Beyond the computer problem, there's just a crazy fear about number magic as if the number of the year has any effect on what goes on. It's an arbitrary, conventional thing," Martin said. He thinks people are grabbing onto the computer issue as a way of justifying this strange, "irrational, magical fear." Both before and after the year 1000, people expressed anxieties about the end of the world being keyed to dates, added Kingwell. "The numbers are arbitrary but they take on a powerful, almost mystical influence. It's the way culture works. Arbitrary things can become powerful," Kingwell said. The number 2000 holds a mystic quality that seduces some to believe an incomprehensible disaster is going to strike, said Martin, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Indeed, the fact the new century actually begins in 2001 doesn't seem to influence people since it's the number 2000 that raises irrational fears, he said. Kingwell also believes that people have grown so dependent on technology that the prospect of something going wrong is deeply unsettling. "Numbers are used as a scientific tool. They kind of reveal the structure of the way the universe is. The whole progress in modern sciences has arrived because of the mathematization of the way the universe works," said Martin. Whether it's the modern age or the year 999, people have a superstitious awe of numbers, believing selective numbers are good or bad. The new millennium is causing additional fears since it happens to be creating a computer problem as well. "The mystique is all about that zero. The mysterious number in the number system. Why do we care about this date turning at all?" asked Kingwell. "Some people don't, but lots of people do." Paul Hoffert also believes the millennium issue has been largely overblown. With exception of computer problems, the ability to predict problems in advance is simple to do from a computer science perspective. Hoffert, a director at the CulTech Research Centre at York University, said he wouldn't be surprised if there were more disruptions during last year's ice storm than there will be in the year 2000. Rather than panicking about the turn of the century, the year 2000 provides an opportunity of recollection and reassessment that could be enormously productive, said Kingwell. "We have to come to terms with being 21st century beings now and get on with the business of creating this future. The fact that it's daunting makes us susceptible to all these anxieties but also to hopes. We don't want to see it as all dark." Comment By Heath Stallcup 1-11-99 Jeff - I've heard about all the Y2K crap I can handle and just need to vent. All the doomsayers are choking on their own sweat and spittle as they rattle the chains of fear and gloom and attempt to scare the bejeezus out of the common man. It make you wonder how man ever survived before computers. I expect there to be some foul-ups and some delays. But how can people worry about there not being any food in the grocery stores? PEOPLE crate, deliver and uncrate the stuff for purchase. Where will that change? Instead of a computer generated order sheet, someone will actually have to break out a pen and paper and WRITE IT DOWN. And unless truckers have changed in the last few years and have clock slaved computer chips in their brains, they will still be able to find the stores. So, we may have intermittent power outages. When was the last time a power outage sent raving hoardes of crazies into the streets, ready to kill their neighbors and friends for scraps of food? Come on, people. Its not the end of the world, or the end of civilization. We might (repeat MIGHT) have some inconveniences, but nothing earthshattering here. Our nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will not go nutsy and launch a nuclear strike against the Communist state of Ohio. It will not rain bodies and aircraft parts onto your backyard bar-b-que. The sky will not fall and people will not turn to cannabalism to maintain their USRDA of vitamin human. If people are really concerned, tell them to keep a couple of weeks supply of canned goods on hand. Maybe they could fill some 2 litre pop bottles with water in case they are truly concerned. The point is this, although computers and electronics have made our lives easier, they havent dominated us. Most systems are designed to fail safe. PEOPLE have the ability to override the mechanics of the machines and get the basics in line. So what if your bank says you had a million dollar deposit or a check for $115, 000.00 hit and you had insufficient funds. Keep paper copies. It can be ironed out after the initial shock. The point is, don't be stoopid. If this is really some government ploy to initiate martial law, it won't work if the people are calm and ready to deal with the little snafus that occur everyday. Just dont panic. It's not worth it. It's a waste of energy. Panic will not fix anything. Be patient. Be concerned. But don't go thinking that life as we know it will be over. It wont. If you stop and think about it for a moment, it seems pretty silly. Do you really think that something as simple as a computer not knowing the proper date will cause the greatest nation in the history of the world to suddenly collapse into the darkest of times? Puh-lease! These doomsayers have the best of both worlds. Any thing that doesn't go perfectly smooth, they can blame on Y2K. If nothing happens and the world continues, they can pat themselves on the back and claim that it was because they gave the world fair warning and stuff got fixed 'just in the nick of time'. Either way, life will go on. People will fall in love. People will hate. People will do stoopid things and get caught. People will lend helping hands. People will bury the hatchet. Other people will dig it up. All the joys and trials, all the good and the bad will continue. Depending on where you live, you may have noticable effects due to Y2K, and you may not. Either way, its not the end of the world. Not even close. Just enhance your calm and enjoy the centennial. Heath
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), January 13, 1999
And this guy is teaching our young?
-- Nikoli Krushev (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 13, 1999.
"Do you really think that something as simple as a computer not knowing the proper date will cause the greatest nation in the history of the world to suddenly collapse into the darkest of times?"
No professor, not if I don't think.
-- Chris (email@example.com), January 13, 1999.
Nothing like an opinion and no facts. Contempt before investigation.
-- Mike Lang (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 13, 1999.
Too bad the "Millennial Fever Year 999" theory has been so thoroughly discredited. I wonder if you ask them to cite their sources you would fail??
He would have been FINE if he had stopped with the 1899 Bee Hive communities, the precursors to the Bruderhoff, the spinoffs (NOT the original)Oneida communities, or ANY of the PLETHORA of millennialists of the 1890's. But, no, we have to go to the 999 theory, for which there is NO extant documentation.
-- Chuck, night driver (email@example.com), January 13, 1999.
Are you saying me brother has his up his?
He has a Ph. D. in history and when I told him in 1997 that I was concerned about the millinium change, he answered: "Do you know what people worried about in 1492? I thought this too stupid to answer. So he said: "They worried about paying their taxes. That's what eye tell my students."
-- Duhhhh (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 13, 1999.
Having a Ph.D in history only certifies that he has amassed a huge amount of dots in his brain. Doesn't certify that he can connect them.
-- duhduh (email@example.com), January 13, 1999.
I always wonder how they can say:
If people are really concerned, tell them to keep a couple of weeks supply of canned goods on hand. Maybe they could fill some 2 litre pop bottles with water in case they are truly concerned.
Why not 3 weeks ? Why not 55 gal barrels ? Where's the line between "concerned" and "stoopid" ? Who has defined it ?
-- Blue Himalayan (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 13, 1999.
I will conduct a personally funded scientific study on his brain and will report the results.
Should I tell him about the dots in his brain?
-- Duhhhh (email@example.com), January 13, 1999.
stop by a university, it gets much worse than that.
-- Joe O (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 13, 1999.