Y2K fallacy: "We are Y2K-OK, the OTHERS are the problem"

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Be it nationally or internationally, be it in federal government or county/city/town government, be it inter-company or intra-companies, a monotonous fallacy comes up over and over again.

Basically, it goes like this:

"We should be pretty much O.Kay, it's the others we are very worried about". It doesn't take a University professor to understand the implications of such fallacy.

Please also note the tense of the verb ("should") and the ambiguous compliance status ("pretty much"), which constitute another additional fallacy, because compliance is compliance.

A patient with 70% of his/her blood is not a patient, it's a corpse.

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com.ar), June 27, 1999


Georrrrrrge, most have stated over and over again, "we feel confident we'll be compliant by January". Don't worry, be hap-py! They're confident. (never to be mistaken with com-pe-tent)

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), June 27, 1999.

Or as Yogi Berra would say, "Even if everyone is ready, it won't matter because nobody else is."

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 27, 1999.

Flint, I liked that Yogi Berra quote, it4s kinda cute for the occasion.

Glad to see we can share some sense of humor Flint!

Take care

-- George (jvilches@ sminter.com.ar), June 27, 1999.


George's post made me smile because the phrase he cites is almost exactly what I hear day in and day out. I'm a headhunter in Dallas and work with lots of IT types, and since becoming "Y2K aware", have tried to work the subject into any conversations I have with programmers, system administrators and the like.

The standard quote I have heard is: We're pretty much okay, I'm just worried about the other guys." At the risk of sounding heretical let me say that I respectful disagree, however, with George's interpretation. My personal opinion is that this tends to bode well for the rollover.

I understand that in remediating code, new errors are introduced; I understand that most firms have started late and will not be able to fully test integrated systems in time to make sure everything works; and I understand that just-in-time (JIT) inventory procedures leave a lot of firms vulnerable to their vendors' lack of foresight.

Nevertheless, I am growing more optimistic. I hear no panic in the voices of the professionals I talk to (financial and IT folks). None. They can't all be fools or conspiricists. I have had no one call us seeking to flee a firm whose accounting system has falling into disastrous and unremiable disarry. Rest assured that if and when I do, I will let this forum know--and well as all the friends and relatives--and maybe a few other folks as well.

This is why my thinking leans towards a mid-range scenario--two weeks of disorder and several years of serious economic pain. Still having trouble figuring out how to deal with the latter--maybe I can start placing bankrupcy lawyers!

I have not stopped preparing; and I am working out Plans B and C in case my reasonably sanguine analysis proves in error. I am coaxing others to prepare as best I can, without losing credibility with them. (Personally I have found a slow, steady dribble of Y2K info worked into the conversations over a period of time works best--some folks have in fact started repeating back to me things I told them months ago. It's gratifying to have some impact.)

In my opinion the bottom line is this: We don't know how the year 2000 is going to work out. We can analyze and infer late into the night and we still won't know. Expected crisis points have come and gone without visible impact. I know problems have occurred--this board gets the news faster than Reuters--but as the diehard optimists keep pointing out, software fails everyday.

On the other hand, the very complexity of the problem, and of our whole technology-intensive lifestyle argues that there are going to be serious problems. That's why I am preparing.

I've lost track of where I was going with this--perhaps I was just thinking out loud (and thanks for listening). So let me wrap it up with a humble suggestion. Personally I welcome the posts of the Pollyannas who seek to debunk Y2K. I hit their board regularly (mostly rather rude talk, but once in a while they turn up an acorn that I find useful). I want to hear the pro, the con, the middle, the doom and the sunshine. It all helps me sort this out, so I can make intelligent decisions, and offer intelligent advice to my friends.

We've seen some rude, and some possibly psychotic posts here, but that's why the Big Programmer invented the delete key. On the other hand, I've found very useful the posts of some intelligent and well spoken folks who make their arguments very cogently and apparently think nothing is going to happen. I listen to them. I make my own decisions. I make my own preparations.

I hope Flint et al continue to try to kick holes in the Y2K thesis. I find their thoughts useful and let me echo the moderators in saying that facts and rational argument are going to serve us all better than invective.

Sorry for the ramble. As always, comments are welcome.

-- William in Dallas (bcheek@onramp.net), June 27, 1999.

I have called this "The Look-Here-Not-There Strategy": Y2K Progress Revisited: That Darned Reality Just Keeps Intruding.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), June 27, 1999.

William in Dallas: please visit the thread "Vehicle registration renewals in Honolulu" down a few from this one. I hope you aren't being 'mooned' or worse yet, observing no panic from the clueless. They do tend to know only of the box in which they work sometimes. Those preps of yours are a good idea!!

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), June 27, 1999.

William in Dallas,

Thanks for your post. Comment: It's not that everyone is either a fool or a conspiricist. Many have shouted "fire" out loud, others are plain wishfull thinkers, others are plain ignorant, others are plain negligent. Technical people also tend to focus on details and they miss the big picture.

Another point William, with all due respect: on the one hand you say you are pretty optimistic, but on the other you describe a rather dreadfull situation for which 99% of people will probably not be prepared for as they see no threat as you say, thus catching them off guard, thus heavily impacting their hunky-dory expectations.

I am sure you will acknowledge that this aspect will also be a big problem.

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com,ar), June 27, 1999.

Of course they are not all fools, William. But they have certainly behaved like fools for the last ten tears or so.

-- dave (wootendave@hotmail.com), June 27, 1999.

We pride ourselves, of course, on being able to see the forest, what with our "Get It" Olympian perspectives.

But here's William, whose job places him right in the middle of that forest, saying Hey, I can't find any trees!

I've been pointing out for some time that the Doomer techniques are designed to create trees out of sheer Will power. The trees may not exist in reality, but dammit, we *know* there's a forest there! There *must* be trees. Therefore there are trees. QED.

And George is quite right. You don't need to be an egghead to understand that if everyone is pretty much OK, then everyone *else* must be pretty much OK also. Even a pretty dim bulb can see this. Doomerism isn't caused by an inability to reason or observe. It's much more a religious phenomenon.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 27, 1999.

Headhunters tend to work with the cream of the crop so to speak; this could be a factor in William's perception of things.

-- Will (sibola@hotmail.com), June 28, 1999.


Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I'm willin' to talk to anyone I might be able to make some money on placing. This ain't ex cathedra, it's anecdotal. One man's experience.

By the way, watched Kevin Costner's The Postman tonight. Would have made a great miniseries.

Best regards,

-- William in Dallas (bcheek@onramp.net), June 28, 1999.


Thanks for your input - I hope to God you're right but I doubt it.

Here's why.

But first let me preface my quick and to the point comments with this absolute classic from my old mucker, my pal Flint :)


"But here's William, whose job places him right in the middle of that forest, saying Hey, I can't find any trees!"

End Quote.

Uh, Flint, so what?

It matters not a whit what the perceived situation is in Dallas and it's nether regions.


Digest the above.

Think about it - please do not insult the readers of this forum by falling into the trap of painting all Americans as dullards that only think about their home town, maybe their county, then their state and if you're really really lucky the rest of the USA.







Sorry William, please reconsider you're optimistic scenario - DeeCee has just gone on full alert - think about the systemic nature of this catastrophy WORLDWIDE.


-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), June 28, 1999.


I'm not very familiar with the headhunting business. I can tell you that I was living in Texas, and was placed into a job in Alabama by a headhunter based in Arizone (whom I never met in person). Of course, this is still within the US.

But William isn't able to find even one concerned IT person (which is where Cory and others place the major y2k problems). They're all pretty much OK, they tell him. You would surely think that if y2k were the pandemic you describe, he'd have encountered at least someone from some shop that has problems. I know you're a devout believer and reject anything else reflexively. But William is a valuable data point nonetheless.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 28, 1999.

Gee Flint, I think you meant to say Arizona :)

Starting to work my way into your subconscious am I? (I'd actually be flattered, but I doubt that's the case.)

-- ariZONEa (in_the_back_of@flints_mind.com), June 28, 1999.

Flint, dear buddy,

Thanks for acknowledging that I'm "quite right" in what I say.

Furthermore, I guess that we would both also agree on a Yogi Berra quote which I just know you'll love:

"You don't have to be a wishy-washy polly-doomer dummy-polly to misquote me on purpose (please check above) and suddenly understand that you ARE a wishy-washy polly-doomer dummy-polly"

Thanks again Flint, and I recommend you to move to Washington DC because they seem to agree with you in that everything will be Y2K-OK

Maybe Hillary can appoint you as her official band leader for the Year 2000 Jubilee ceremonies she is planning at the DC Mall, in which case you should both take your knee-high rubber boots just in case a couple of billion gallons of sewage spill happens to flow your way.

You two would make for an excellent TIME magazine cover story with your whiffy smiles and all!

No offense Flint, I'm your buddy.

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com.ar), June 28, 1999.


Greetings from Big D.

Concerning your observations, I wonder how many people you place are mainframers vs. client/server types. I think one reason you may not hear much Y2K concern here is because Dallas has a lot more client/server type applications than mainframes except in banking & they're going to happy face or just not know what is going on. Personally, I think some of the biggest impact, aside from embedded chips, of course, will be with the mainframes. So the biggest impact will be on govt. & banking. Dallas has a relatively newer computer infrastructure with many companies having no mainframes at all.

Also, consider the age range of people you're dealing with. Most people in 20-40's, think life's pretty grand esp. in Dallas area. Not many think of the big picture beyond what is impacting them personally.

Where I work I've noticed a change from a year ago when we first had a Y2k meeting to organize compliance. No one at all was concerned. Now quietly, a few people are stocking up, have a generator, or even perhaps a bugout place.

I use to read about Y2K but what really changed my thinking is when one of my most conservative colleagues at the first of the year started really planning for Y2K. That woke me up to actually doing some things.

-- texan (bullseye@ranch.com), June 28, 1999.


Your approach amuses me quite a bit. Here we have a headhunter plugged into the IT recruitment business in a major metropolitan area, and he's talked to potential recruits, and reports that they don't see problems where they are (but worry about the other guy, where they aren't). Your reaction:

y2k is a big problem. This is a given, not to be questioned. Therefore the most likely possibilities are:

1) William must be working with the "wrong kind" of IT people.

2) Dallas is somehow different from reality.

3) Since William deals with IT people, maybe the BIG problems are embedded.

4) The people William talks to are universally ignorant of 'real' conditions wherever they currently work.

Ain't denial wonderful? It's just so creative when it needs to be.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 28, 1999.


What I find most amusing is how you completely mischaracterize my posting with remarks I never made nor implied.


"y2k is a big problem. This is a given, not to be questioned."

This is not my position nor what I said. I believe that no one knows for certain what the outcome will be and we should always question possible outcomes.

"Therefore the most likely possibilities are:

1) William must be working with the "wrong kind" of IT people. "

I simply posed the question whether or not William was working with mainframe jobseekers or not. If the jobseekers were mainly of the client/server variety, it would be understandable, at least to me, why these (client/server) professionals would not anticipate as much of a problem since I believe more programmatic problems (vs. infrastructure problems which is a different topic) will arise from old mainframe systems and there will be less resources to fix them. I agree with Greenspan on this one.

" 2) Dallas is somehow different from reality. "

Dallas is not "different from reality" however it might be different from some other locales. It is a fact that is a younger city than most cities of its size and has a newer IT infrastructure than many older cities.

"3) Since William deals with IT people, maybe the BIG problems are embedded. "

Not at all. I was simply identifying embedded problems (which certain engineers would be more familiar with ) vs. programmatic problems, which William's clientele would know more about.

" 4) The people William talks to are universally ignorant of 'real' conditions wherever they currently work. "

Again, I never said nor implied this. I was simply reiterating a concept that more than one poster before me had communicated. That is that often, albeit not always, that IT professionals are specialists in their field and do not always look at the big picture. Concerning banking, in years of consulting I have not always found the nimblest minds to find themselves working in either banking nor the govt... at least not for long.

" Ain't denial wonderful? It's just so creative when it needs to be. "

I think you have proven this statement for yourself to be true.

Happy Trails!

-- texan (bullseye@ranch.com), June 28, 1999.

Howdy again--

These are interesting issues, and thanks to all for their responses. Let me see if I can deal with some of the questions raised.

Dallas definitely does have a newer infrastructure.

If forced to break it down, I would say that approximately 80% of my candidates (potential employees)are client-server, 20% mainframe. Come to think of it, I have not talked to any mainframe guys in a while. Hmmm.

And while I do talk to individuals from all age groups, and industries, my clients are primarily telecom, software developers, and a variety of run-of-the-mill firms seeking financial analysts, accountants, auditors and the like. No government clients, they don't pay fees to recruiters. The people I am working for shape who I talk to. Please take that into consideration.

Are my candidates ignorant of the big picture? I don't know. Hope not!

Oh, and Dallas is *definitely* different from reality (that's a sociological observation, folks).

Hope that this has clarified my "anecdotal experience." It is of limited value; except, I hope in that, through this discussion, it might have helped others clarify their thinking. It has certainly helped clarify mine. Maybe I should conduct a poll of our people and get a more solid picture. If time permits, I will.

Best to all,

-- William in Dallas (bcheek@onramp.net), June 28, 1999.


Maybe I expressed myself poorly. Your post seemed to be an attempt to suggest some way, any way, that William's observations might be invalid. And I'm not saying that your possibilities might be wrong. They all seem quite reasonable. It's the *direction* of your efforts that I'm trying to address here.

To illustrate, let me turn it around (and I ask that you be as honest as possible). What if William had testified here that most of his candidates were sincerely worried, and saw big problems looming ahead? In that case, do you really think you'd have found four possible reasons why William's observations might be faulty or inapplicable? (NOTE that all of your objections would STILL apply). Would you really have come up with these same objections to William's experiences, if those experiences were negative? Or would you be content to chalk William up as another marker on the road to doom, without further analysis?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 28, 1999.

A previous thread called "I'll be OK, but I'm worried about you" also discussed this.

http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch- msg.tcl?msg_id=000gNA

-- (just@home.now), June 28, 1999.

Blame shifting is behind it all.

IMHO many people involved in y2k just KNOW that there will be many problems come 2000 simply because THEY or THEIR company didn't do things right in the first place, be it because of lack of time, money, people, knowledgeability, unpleasant surprises, lack of thoroughness, plain negligence, whatever.

Accordingly, they rightly suspect that others have incurred in the same type of fudging, without admitting that 'they' are just as bad as 'them' y2k-wise.

Sorta like playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun and hoping that blame shifting will get you off the hook.

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com.ar), June 28, 1999.

A most pertinent and timely article quoting statements from top EPA officials and military officers has been posted today, June 29, under "Domino Effect", www.garynorth.com

Don't miss it

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com.ar), June 29, 1999.

Of course many organisations will in themselves be compliant (or at least operational), question is how many. A large percentage will be compliant, my prediction being 92.5%, what will be the overall consequences of the 7.5% who will not be.

12 out of 160 UK financial services companies apparently will not be compliant, does this mean that all their investors lose their money, their employees lose their jobs, the rest of us have to pay compensation (via the Govt), or are they taken over?

-- dick of the dale (rdale@coynet.com), June 29, 1999.


Thanks for your response. It was similiar to a few other recruiters that I've spoken to in this area.

Dallas does seem to have its own "reality". ;-))


I wasn't trying to disagree with William's clients' assessment of Y2K. I was just trying to get a little more information on his clients. I suspected there weren't many, if any, mainframers, that had expressed that view that he'd spoken to.

Why do I say this? Because I'm a consultant in Dallas for a number of years in exactly those same industries and know a lot of recruiting firms, software engineers, programmers, etc. I know this market and William is right. There is not a lot of government industry here or not many mainframers. Another variable that makes Dallas, Dallas.

If William had reported that a gloomy outlook from his clients on Y2K, I'd probably raise the same questions. If it came from mainframers, I think it is gloomy in that world of IT. Client/Server I think will survive as long as the electricity holds out although alot of may be employed a great deal in fixing problems.

Bottomline, you seem to want to know my opinion and assumptions going into Y2K. Here it is:

I believe Dallas and Texas to be one of the best places to be located during the rollover. IMHO, while oil & gas will increase in price, that since Texas is off the national grid, we will fare better than most of the country concerning electricity. I would not want to be located in Neew Yawk City (Neew Yawk City!!) or deecee during this time. Also, since Dallas has a newer infrastructure it will fare better than most and since a lot of Texans and people attracted to Texas have a "can do" attitude. The increase in oil prices will not hurt us, but help us, and the price is and, I assume, will be lower than most of the rest of the country.

As rosy as a picture as that is for Dallas, I do not plan to bring in the New Year at Beau Nash or the Mansion but safely tucked away miles from the metromess. And I have no pathological desire for anything, Y2K, asteroids, solar flares, nukes, whatever to disturb my life or my fellow citzens on earth. But I believe we should be prepared. Part of that is studying history - of my family, of Texans and surrounding states, this country and beyond. We've have a very prosperous time but it has not always been so. And it might not be again.

-- texan (bullseye@ranch.com), June 29, 1999.

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