"Doomers" vs. "Polly's" -- useless categories

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Use of the terms "doomers" and "pollys" in connection with Y2K introduces a false and misleading dichotomy. Those two terms implicity deny the existence of any views other than the two extremes, and force the discussion into binary mode, completely inadequate for describing human behaviour.

Obviously both limiting positions have their proponents, but I'm convinced that most of the posters here find themselves somewhere in between.

Let's find some other way to tell ourselves apart.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 05, 1999


How about "right" and "wrong" ..... ;-)

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Or even: misanthrope vs. humanitarian.

It's the rude, negative, mercenarian "optimists" that sully the polly epithet. The ones you'd like to run off the road if you ever met them... and you know who you are.

-- Lisa (lisa@work.now), May 05, 1999.

"Right" and "Wrong" -- two more useless categories so far as Y2K is concerned.

The single fact that I've been able to get hold of in the last 12 months is that no one has any facts, only more or less reasonable suppositions based on inference from more or less limited technical information. The most that can be said is that some disruptions of commercial and civil infrastructure are possible. No one can be certain what will happen, where it will happen, how long any disruption will last, or how severe any consequences will be. Which is why this business is so unsettling.

Inferences can be drawn, speculations can be offered, scenarios can be written --- and many have been. But "right"? "wrong"? That we won't know for quite a while.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 05, 1999.

How about "prepared" and "reckless"?

-- Doug (Doug@work.now), May 05, 1999.

Tom, I was just kidding ....

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Yep, Tom, they are worthless categories. I've been trying for well over a year to indicate to this forum that Y2K isn't a digital event; non-problem or doom.

For a while we discussed grading our interpretation of how bad (or good) it will be. Then we tried "GI" and "DGI." This last one failed too, because it also indicates only a binary outcome.

Now, if you'll notice, we were beginning to get to an even keel until a few individuals insisted in using the term "doomer." This, of course is in the finest tradition of liberal media manipulation, in which one adopts buzz words for those they don't agree with that paint those folk in a bad light. Of course they keep the high sounding labels for themselves.

In other words, Tom, it isn't those participants who have a desire to learn or to contribute who are responsible for the polarization. Blame the trolls.

(And lighten up on BigDog)

-- De (delewis@inetone.net), May 05, 1999.

Idealist - Optimist - Realist - Pessimist - Survivalist - Fatalist

Idealist, "Y2K is a total nonevent."

Optimist, "Y2K problems will be largely resolved, the rest will be quickly fixed on failure."

Realist, "Y2K problems will vary widely... some individual firms and agencies will be damaged, but 'systems' (e.g. power, telcos, finance) will continue to work."

Pessimist, "Y2K problems will be widespread and cause some systems failures."

Survivalist, "Y2K problems will crash systems and you will have to fend for yourself... for a long time."

Fatalist, "Y2K problems will result in anarcy or martial law in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland."

I tried this before, but maybe it will catch this time.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), May 05, 1999.

Mr. D -

Hmmm... IMHO, far too much negative semantic value at the "risks" end. You have all positive, affirmative terms at the "low risks" end, and even mid-range is given some approval as "Real", while those who see risks ahead are classified as being at best "pessimistic". Too much weight at one end...

The group (actually a whole department) in my company which evaluates plans for potential risks and develops appropriate strategies for dealing with same is known as "Risk Management", not "that bunch of Pessimists."

That said, I completely agree with desire to eliminate labels like "Doomer" and "Polly". They are less than useless and they interfere with clear communication. Besides, assuming that most participants in this forum are in fact making some form of preparations (certainly Flint and Mr. D have indicated this), I suspect that most other folks would classify the majority of us as "Doomers". 8-}]

"If something doesn't fit in a pigeonhole, it's probably not a pigeon."

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), May 05, 1999.

A doomer is an optimist, who believes he can prepare. And handle any situation without prayer. The Rambo type. He believe he will survive.

The polly is a person who realizes there is nothing he can do but ignore the problem and pray.

-- Arthur Washington (ARTWASH@webtv.net), May 05, 1999.

The problem is you can't represent a continuum easily with labels (even the 1 to 10 scale requires endless reinterpretation: "let's see, an 8 is ...???") and, while labeling is bad aesthetically and other hurtful personally, it enables us to focus discussions as human beings in a way that, in the end, generally proves useful. Of COURSE, I don't really consider myself a "doomer" but hey .....

The problem with Decker's scale has already been cited. I AM an optimist about Y2K but I could never fit on that scale.

Probably the two best, most accurate terms would be, "heavy preppers" and "light preppers". But these lack a certain something, a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

Another axis cuts between those who are radically conservative ("Constitutionalists" like me, Greybear, Nikoli, INVAR, Arlin and others), libertarian (Deedah and others), communitarian (Diane and others) and ???

I think we would do better if we say GI-DGI or Doomer-Polly as standing for conceptual extremes that actually ENABLE us to frame the Y2K debate rather well. They are "strawmen" against which we test a lot of evidence and hypotheses. "Davis", for instance, stands for "pollyness". This isn't an insult (he sure wouldn't take it as one!): he is a very bright and experienced man and thinker. I benefit from him even though I think he is DEAD wrong 97% of the time. Would I benefit so much if we were vague and dippy in our positioning? Considering that he is sincere and I am sincere in our positions, I don't think so. That some of us have changed our position over time is cool (I'll change mine if I am given persuasive evidence) and doesn't really alter my point, I don't think. There will always be new doomers and pollys to step into the gap.

Also, note, some people are doomers about Y2K (a.a.a.) and pollys about um, Slick (a.a.a again). Just as one would expect in real life.

Personally, with the rarest exceptions (I could name one person but I won't), most of the regulars are fairly nuanced on both sides, even if they stand mostly at one extreme. You indicated this, Tom, by your opening post.

Maybe, any solution would be less useful than the problem?

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Big Dog,

You seem to have a bone to pick with Mr. Poole (no pun intended). Pardon me, but to say Poole is wrong "97%" of the time seems excessive (and leaning towards hubris on your part.) Having read many of your posts, I feel you are much harder on the optimists than the pessimists like Andy, Invar, Arlin, etc. In my opinion, some of the pessimists have made rather outrageous statements... and often seem in "attack mode." (Although they never seem to want to visit and "chest thump" in person ... (laughter)).

Please, if you are an optimist... where does that place me on the scale?


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), May 05, 1999.

>Use of the terms "doomers" and "pollys" in connection with Y2K introduces a false and misleading dichotomy. Those two terms implicity deny the existence of any views other than the two extremes

No, they don't.

Denial of the existence of views other than the extremes is being done by people, not those terms.

Don't discuss in binary mode and then blame it on the words.

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), May 05, 1999.

Decker -- No, Davis, not Poole. Poole is incorrect 105% of the time! And, yes, I'm an optimist. You're a ... a ... a ... (I've got it) ... Pollyanna! .... but a VERY well-mannered one.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Decker --- a bit more seriously, I am just one participant, though obviously a very opinionated one. Gee, come to think of it, so is everyone here ... anyway, occasionally and with a few people, I get very torqued, NOT because they disagree with me but because, right or wrong, I feel personally they are speaking in a way that is wilfully negative.

I felt that way with Flint about a thread he wrote, for which he (sort of) apologized later (which I appreciate and respect). I did feel that way about that thread you did about "isn't this forum no longer valuable" or some such thing. Rightly or wrongly, I feel YOU have modified your approach somewhat since then. I don't say that to be right or patronizing, BTW. I feel the negative side of this is true of Poole on almost EVERY thread he participates in.

By contrast, Flint (mostly), Davis (mostly), Maria (mostly) make strong and occasionally compelling (remember, I do hold a different view) points for which I am very grateful. So do you. They also give evidence, in turn, that they are receptive to at least a FEW of the arguments that I and others are making.

In other words, it's a crock that either Doomers or Pollys (the ones with integrity and that's the vast majority of us) aren't listening to each other.

As for Andy, he not infrequently agrees with or thanks or acknowledges the points that others make, including those he disagrees with. He also exhibits quite a bit of humility in the face of really vicious attacks on him personally that outdoes what I could handle.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Tom: Thanks for the post. I had started a thread a couple days ago called Pessimism and Prudence that discusses some remarks Jim Lord had made that relate to this. Basically, preparing for Y2K isn't about optimism or pessimism, it is about prudence in the face of uncertainty. The thread is still active if you want to take a look.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@com.net), May 05, 1999.

Big Dog

If I may be so bold, Libertarians (big L) are also Constitutionalists, in fact far more Constitutionally sound in their philosophy than most "Conservative" positions that I have read, at least on certain subjects.

As to Mr. Decker's scale, I would adjust it one little bit:

Realist, "Y2K problems will vary widely... some individual firms and agencies will be damaged, but since nobody is certain beyond a doubt which will fail and how these failures will affect the whole, it would be less than wise not to make at least some preparations for a worse case outcome."

Though I do admit that this adjustment does tend to re-ignite the round and around of just what the most likely worst case outcome would be, and further debate amongst the "Pollys and Doomers".

As an aside to Mr. Decker, I hope you take no offense at my adoption of your adieu, I have done so as my small contribution toward a rise in forum civility.


-- Mr Deedah (used2B@unkeeD.B4civility), May 05, 1999.

Mr. Deedah ---

"If I may be so bold, Libertarians (big L) are also Constitutionalists, in fact far more Constitutionally sound in their philosophy than most "Conservative" positions that I have read, at least on certain subjects."

My dear esteemed sir, you may be so bold. Valid point, which is why I said, "radical conservative". However, all of us on the spectrum want to and probably can lay claim to various constitutional themes.

BTW, as Decker knows, at my college, we were REQUIRED to address everyone as "Mr." or "Miss" so-and-so at ALL times in class and that is still the case 25 years later. I must say, it did cool certain things. OTOH, in real life, one can intone the word "Mr." in a way that would curl the eyelids .....

Mr. Big Dog

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 05, 1999.

Hhmm, the old labels are tattered. Let's have some fun!

Vampire - Werewolf - Mummy - Zombie - Yeti - Mermaid - Witch - Wizard - Oracle - Saint - Ogre - Alien - Fakir - Ghost - Alchemist - Gnome - Leprechaun - Fairy - Elf - Dragon

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), May 06, 1999.

What are we going to rename the Doomers? ;)


-- Mr Deedah (used2B@unkeeD.B4civility), May 06, 1999.

(trolls already taken),
goblin - demon - poltergeist -- aren't goblins gloomy & doomy?

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), May 06, 1999.

Didn't intend to be brutal toward Big Dog -- that post was mainly aimed at the general population here.... (My usual policy is to stay up on my porch....) [:- )

Shake the tree and you never know what will come of it. Lots of opinions showing up here.

The trouble is that we're using a language which constrains our thinking. For instance, verbs of activity, is and be appear in English as statements of static fact. For an illuminating view of how language limits and channels thought, see Language Thought and Reality : Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf.

Short form: I don't have a solution to this.

We're all looking at a continuum of possibilities, assigning probability to various events based on personal experiences and life histories, with very little concrete information to work with. In this situation it's folly to criticize anyone for having another view than one's own. Until events develop -- or do not develop -- it's equivalent to arguing how many angels can stand on the head of a pin.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 06, 1999.

Angel (thanks Tom ;) - Sprite

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), May 06, 1999.

Here we are in amorphous tenuous cyberspace, some with imaginary identities, debating a slippery shifting vaporwhere future possible impossible maybe for sure event concerning systemic interconnected webs of electronic impulses flitting around the globe.

How constricted to bemoan tired old definitions and labels and limitations! Let the wild things loose!

Sprite - Goblin - Angel - Poltergeist - Demon - Gnome - Elf - Dragon - Fairy - Alien - Ghost - Alchemist - Leprechaun - Oracle - Saint - Ogre - Yeti - Fakir - Vampire - Werewolf - Mummy - Zombie - Mermaid - Witch - Wizard - there's more ...

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), May 06, 1999.

Thanks, Decker

call me a realist

-- walt (walt@lcs.k12.ne.us), May 06, 1999.

Mr. Decker

i like your scale but not your terminology. specifically, your use of the term 'realist' implies a bias that *that* position is the *real* view of the world.

i think 'optomist' implies 'we'll have problems but we'll work through them' and 'pessimist' implies 'we'll have problems and we *won't* be able to work through them.'

IMHO (as a realist, of course) we'll have problems, some very serious, but we won't know how bad things will get until 1Q2000, at which point it will be too late to prepare, so it's wise to stock up on things that might be in short supply (read unavailable) while we can. is that too long of a definition of 'realist?'

-- Cowardly Lion (cl0001@hotmail.com), May 06, 1999.

i guess i am one of those disgusting middle-of-the-road prudent people. how about using the terminology from the fable about the ant and the grasshopper? the ant prepared for winter (during the summer) and survived it, the grasshopper played around, and then croaked the following winter. i'd rather be an ANT.

-- jocelyne slough (jonslough@tln.net), May 06, 1999.

it's my understandingthat "poly"is a shortened version of "pollyanna"a little girl who,no matter how much crap happened to her,she steadfastly held onto her belief that "it will all be all right".I don't see how that's an insult,and it does seem quite apt.As for "doomer"well,I think if you live in a large city,you're doomed,so I feel comfortable with my title

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), May 06, 1999.

gosh, based on the last three posts we've been infected by the e.e.cummings virus.

Decker - Slight little nit to pick: as a person that has been involved in the survivalist movement for over 15 years your labeling of the term survivalist is offensive, typical, expected, well worn and oft repeated, but still offensive none the less. I am not offended by you personally because I will assume that your only "window" to the survivalist community is through the typical mass media sound bite. Certainly not as bad as the drubbing after the OKC bombing when survivalists were portrayed by the mass media to be all bomb throwing crazed Militia anarchist types though. You'll find if you make the bother that most of the people in the survivalist movement are highly individualistic people that enjoy the challange of preparing for life's unexpected (at least unexpected by the majority) events. They are the people that bother to retake their CPR every two years or so, have jumper cables, tow rope, hydraulic jack, spinner, a goodly first aid kit, and a full toolbox in their trunk. They forgo luxury items and instead buy preparedness items because they feel for religious or secular reasons that it is the moral thing to do. As I say, slight nit to pick. Just don't assume that preparedness can't be a hobby and that preparation is not the same as expectation.

Leska - YEAH! I'm for all of the new ! Yahoo! (oops that a TM, I mean Yippie!) Let's see now, who can we place where?

Zombie - Al Gore? Wizard - de Jager? Oracle - Scary Gary? Gnome (as in gnomes of Zurich) Yardeni? Alchemist (money into gold) McAlvaney? Vampire - (that troll that posted about his glock) Dragon - Greenspan (people tremble at his every word)? Saint - Diane( as in patience of a) Alien - Art Bell(that's a given)!

I won't take them all, you folks come up with some!

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), May 06, 1999.

Mr. Seger,

Yikes... I am an accidental survivalist! Seriously, I practice rational living... call it a scaled-down version of self-reliance. It comes naturally from growing up in rural America.

When I chose the term survivalist for the scale, I didn't mean for it to have a negative tone. (Fatalist has a definitive darkness, but so does a post-Apocalyptic future.) If you think Y2K will result in long-term disruptions to core services, it makes sense to become more self reliant. I suppose I chose survivalist because I do understand that the survivalist/self reliance movement is much broader than portrayed in the media.

I enjoyed reading web pages like the Frugal Squirrel and Capt. Dave in doing research. I also read a number of homesteading books, civil defense texts and other sources of self reliance information. It seems to me, many people simply want to live off the grid, close to the earth and with as little direct contact with bureaucracy as possible. I think that's pretty normal, but challenging in our current culture.

Of course, I think there are some people in the self reliance movement who are "out there." I guess I think of these as "hard core survivalists." While I hope not to offend you, I don't think the U.N. is putting stuff in our drinking water to make it easier to impose a new world order. This, however, is the type of stuff I have read from some of the extreme elements of the self reliance movement.

While I know the term survivalist has negative baggage, I think if you consider what the scale implies... it makes sense. If people on EY think we are facing a meltdown, I suggest they investigate the self reliance movement. (Without the new world order stuff.)


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), May 06, 1999.

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