Predicting Human Behavior : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Credentials, please.

It seems that everytime someone delivers a pronouncement about what computers will do, they preface their statements with something like, "I'm a professional with 15 years experience in programming, etc, etc.".

When it comes to economics, you at least get an occasional reference to the persons background, and why they should be considered a reliable source.

When it comes to human behavior, however, no one even bothers to pretend they've ever studied the subject. People are infinitely more complicated than even the hugest mainframe. Yet the assumption seems to be there, that accurate predictions about what people will do, in ANY situation, Y2K or not, is an ability we are all born with.

I have yet to see a single Anthropologist, Sociologist, Psychologist or Psychiatrist identify themselves. I have seen a smattering of people identify themselves as Social Workers, but given the wide range of duties and functions inherent in that profession, it may mean you have some insight into the human mind, or it may not.

Saying that you can make infallible predictions about how humans will behave, because you've watched a few of them, is the same as me saying that I can make accurate predictions about mainframes, because I took a couple of tours, and watched their lights flicker.

So how about it, does anybody here have any experience or alphabets after their name, to make us think that your predictions are any more than wild guesses?

This is not meant as a flame attractor. I'm in deadly earnest. We all hail the miracle of the machine, yet take ourselves to be these simple, nothing to it, kind of devices, that any moron can understand.

Maybe this is the real heart of the Y2K problem.

-- Bokonon (, September 03, 1999


Am into my 6th decade; eight years univ. edukadead :-), widely read, world-traveled-- here's my $.02: This I got from "Ann Landers" (of all people). "You may mistake what people say, but you can't mistake what they do." [Apply to "getting it" and "preparing" for Y2K.] Also from her, "Disturbed people have disturbing behavior." I am none of the professions you listed above (but could play one on TV); though I do have a few of the letters of the alphabet behind my name (but who gives a rat's patoot?). I think that it's very possible to predict human behavior (no necessity to be board certified) without having to say that they're merely wild guesses (SWEG's). For starters, I think that as a general rule, people are going to act in what they think is in their best interest. Though what those actions may lead to is up for grabs. Re Y2K, I think that most people are not taking any action because they think that whatever actions they ARE taking (in lieu of seriously preparing for the effects of Y2K) ARE in their best interests. And if (or when) there is a general societal panic (as I think there will be-- as to when is up for grabs), whatever actions people take (desperate shopping/hoarding, etc), they will believe also to be in their best interests. And if (or when-- as I believe) Y2K ushers in TEOTWAWKI, I believe that its predictable that a disturbed people WILL have disturbing behavior...

-- Dewer Dye (qwerty@!!!!.com), September 03, 1999.

The REAL PROBLEM is that most Americans are NOT ready to experience the Great Depression.

They are too satisfied with their comfort zones.

I am warning you that Japan will pull out their money from the US stock market, and this and other events will trigger the stock market collapse.

Prepare NOW while you are able.

When the inflationary spiral begins, you will be sorry for any thing you have not secured.


-- Randolph (, September 03, 1999.

This is why when you have "experts" decree what will happen, its generally within the limitations of their particular technical discipline. A power "expert" may really believe that fix-on-failure can be applied in a major city, but cannot take into account civil unrest because welfare recipients aren't getting their checks.

Douglass Carmichael has written on the social implications of Y2K.

-- King of Spain (, September 03, 1999.

Hi Boks,

There are two clinical psychologists that I am aware of posting on the forum. One is a current regular. The other I have not seen in several weeks, although he has been a daily contributor in the past. Both are GI's, but I have never seen either of them present their credentials as evidence of the weight of their opinions.

-- RUOK (, September 03, 1999.

I'm a recess teacher. Wow, I know big credentials! But here is what happened one day at recess that might answer your question. The day was overcast, a drizzle here and there THEN a Flash, Crack, and BOOM! As a recess teacher we immediately send the children inside, but the reactions of aproximately 175 little people really surprised me. Few knew what to do before we blew our whistle, most waited until we told them what to do, a couple were histaricly screaming and causing more fear among the rest of the kids, and a hand full didn't care and wanted to stay outside (die heart recess kids). The forcast of thunder showers were possible, (like y2k) but until it happened there was nothing we could do. (because it may not have happened) So as far as y2k, (my personal opinion if y2k effects society to change): A few will know what to do before-(they were either prepared or trained), Most will what until told what to do (they will rely on those above to follow or wait for an authority), It only takes a couple of fear screaming individuals to cause some of that "most" to go into a panic- these are the most dangerous. And a hand full won't care. I'm not an expert, but I can at least share my obervations. Hope this helps.

-- Ice (, September 04, 1999.

My intuition tells me that most of human kind will be trying to take care of themselves and their families without harming someone to do so. But I would not want to be in Wal-Mart with bare shelves with a shipment of goods just arriving with these people!

-- Carol (, September 04, 1999.

Odd that Swiss Family Robinson would end up on T.V. right now... I don't think that you need a degree to predict behavior with a certain degree of accuracy. Personally, I've been a human most of my life, I have a little bit of understanding about how "they" react. The "learned" class may, actually, be a bit far removed to really make valid predictions anyway.

-- dgi (, September 04, 1999.

I'm an RN with over 15 years of experience. I had to study psychology (general, developmental, and abnormal, although not as in-depth as a psychologist would), and sociology. With my almost 4 decades of life experience added to my observations of people and dealing with them in the nursing field, I feel safe enough to say that Dewer Dye seems to have quite a handle on people and masses, and that Ice the Recess Teacher is quite observant.

-- Chris (%$^&^, September 04, 1999.

We have all seen or heard of little "disturbing behaviors" as the wise one above posted. Ever been shopping around the holidays or a big sale? Ever seen people get kamikaze in a parking lot, or scramble aggressively to get the latest fad toy? Remember Hurricane Andrew, and the distribution relief workers that needed armed guards? What do you think most people will do if their life or the life of someone they love depends on getting water or food? It's too horrible and sad to think about for long. There was an old movie called "Miracle Mile". It's premise was to show how people reacted to a warning, albeit a short one, that a nuclear missile was headed their way. It seemed much more realistic to me than the end scenes from "Deep Impact". I also watched "The Trigger Effect". Let's hope it only gets that bad.

I'm more worried right now about the alliance between Russia and China. We're talking about how Americans would react to crisis. How do you think invading foreigners would treat us, and how do you think Americans would respond and react to a major attack? Besides "Capitulate Clinton"....

-- Mumsie (, September 04, 1999.


Y2K is an event through time. Time is not well understood by most folks. That is why the problem happened in the first place. Also this is the reason there is so much debt. Society is infantile.

Disipline is lacking.

I am a lateral thinker as apposed to a "letters" person.

Interesting topic.

-- Brian (, September 04, 1999.

BOKONON: I have sent you an e-mail containing a copy of an article I wrote for this forum earlier this year. Except for the kind of re-posts such as the "14 DAYS OF PREPARATION" article, written and provided by STAN FARYNA, I don't think the re-posting of articles such a I wrote is an appropriate use of this forums resources - hence my e-mail instead.

Please let me know if you receive it. Perhaps you will find it useful and in an obtuse way, one entirely appropriate to your question.

I enjoy your posts...

With respect,

-- Dave Walden (, September 04, 1999.

Back in the seventies, or thereabouts, some of you may remember there was a field of psychiatry/psychology called Transactional Analysis, formulated by the late Eric Berne ("Games People Play") and Claude Steiner. Berne's favorite drum to beat was that most psychiatrists settled for helping people while he actually tried to cure them. Berne also wrote "A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis."

In "A Layman's Guide," Berne described how, as an Army intake physician during World War II, he saw so many recruits that he found he was guessing accurately at their answers to his standard questions. As he pondered more on this "intuition," he noted the ability of a certain moth who could detect a female, downwind, several miles away. Scientists were unable to account for the moth's ability; Berne dubbed it "the odorless smell." And he decided that humans possessed the ability to detect an odorless smell too, that after many months or years of observing people, one could make very accurate assumptions about their lifestyle and behavior. This hypothesis was used to great effect by Agatha Christie in her Miss Marple character: "You know, Fortescue, he reminds me of little Jimmy Featherstone, the grocer's son, who is now serving twenty years for armed robbery."

People whose business is people-oriented (like Ice, for instance), have quite valid opinions about human behavior. In fact, Ice's story reminds me of the guy who was killed by lightning on our local golf course two years ago--despite large warning notices to leave the course in the event of a thunderstorm and loudspeaker warnings to come in off the course. The fatality occurred while the man, in metal-studded golf shoes, was standing in a muddy patch holding on to an iron pole supporting an open-sided shelter on the course, away from any trees. Perfect lightning bait.

Has it made any difference? None that I can see. There are still idiots trying to sink just one more ball, as thunder rumbles and lightning flashes during one of the not infrequent thunderstorms we have here. And the golfers are out in 100-plus heat, 80% humidity, and not a few degrees of hard frost. They play in snow, too, using fluorescent-colored balls until the fall gets too deep. There always will be lots of people who won't pay attention, who think they know best, even when the evidence is in plain sight.

I don't have to have a Ph.D. in meteorology to know it's not a good idea to play golf when thunder is rumbling, and I don't have to be an expert in human behavior to predict that there will ALWAYS be a good handful of golfers out there when the lightning flashes. And I can also safely predict that the fatality described above will not be the last on our golf course.

-- Old Git, who studied soc psych and did counseling, but gave up because so many people simply will not be sensible (, September 04, 1999.

I want to clarify something: I don't mean to say that people without degrees or professional experience are not intitled to their opinions. We have all had life experiences that give some valid insight.

What amazes me, however, is that if someone makes an absolute pronouncement about the behavior of computers, people are quick to leap on that person and demand links and credentials and that no such thing happens, when people make absolute pronouncements about human behavior. I'm not talking about the people who say, "It's been my experience that...", or "Conventional wisdom says that...". I'm talking about the people who say "This WILL happen, next year!". It just astonishes me, that that goes so often unquestioned.

That's interesting. I wonder why they don't let people know their backgrounds?

-- Bokonon (, September 04, 1999.

Great thread, Bok. Ice, I vote for putting these two letters after your name, G.I. Excellent observation of the recess class, and, the only thing different today is the big kids now have SUV's, corporate jobs, big houses, no morals, and all just want to have FUN !! Wave bye bye.

I try to never let my schooling interfere with my education.

-- nitesky voodoo (, September 04, 1999.

How do you think invading foreigners would treat us, and how do you think Americans would respond and react to a major attack?

Never happen. This country is too well armed, both the military and civilian populations. Anyone who thinks they can successfully invade this country may as well stick their pecker in a bee hive and pound on the sides.

As to how we would respond, remember Pearl Harbor?

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 04, 1999.

Bokonon, IMO, it is because computer behavior and computer systems are more easily grasped than people and sociology. I'm an amateur programmer, I've learned Cobol II and love to play with languages in my spare time, so with my techy inclinations and sociological background I'm formulating this opinion.

It is by far safer and easier to predict computers and systems than it is to predict human behavior. An expert in sociology/psychology is less definitively able to predict an event involving humans than an expert in computer science is in predicting events in systems and interactions.

Man made computer in his own image, because that's the only model he had. But it is an extremely primitive rendition still.

-- Chris (%$^&^, September 04, 1999.

Also to clarify, I should point out that we as humans have a much longer history and data to compare and make predictions upon, than we do with computer and systems. So in that sense, most people can have a very good "gut feeling" and predict human behavior with relative accuracy.

-- Chris (%$^&^, September 04, 1999.

Uncle Deedah: Great imagery!

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, September 04, 1999.


Welp, I can offer up my Ph.D. in history, if you like, and can attest that yup, the behaviour of the huge # of speculators in the metropolis of London in the early 1720s (before the South Sea Bubble broke) was very similar to what we're seeing now. Might also suggest that "millennialism" as western soc. approached the year 1,000, wasn't as big a deal as "millenarianism" was in the 17th century. I guess you could extrapolate (wildly) to venture that speculative greed remains an economic constant in human interaction, and that the notion of living in 'end times' doesn't depend on a calendar date. Is that helpful? I know for myself that I'd rather let my posts speak for me w/out credentialling (?) my head off. I know plenty of historians who are total DWGI dorks.


-- PH (, September 04, 1999.

>I have yet to see a single Anthropologist, Sociologist, Psychologist >or Psychiatrist identify themselves. I have seen a smattering of >people identify themselves as Social Workers, but given the wide >range of duties and functions inherent in that profession, it may >mean you have some insight into the human mind, or it may not.

Imagine the credentials one would need to be an "expert" on this subject.

First you'd need to be a historian, having studied an event similar to this event in the past. Can you name ONE?

Keep in mind prior to say 1950, society as a whole didnt rely on big-brother. But perhaps other "civilizations" did?

Besides being a historian - he/she would also have to be an economist. An economist with knowledge of the TRUTH in this matter. Can you name ONE?

In addition, the person would have to be completely familiar with computer beta testing, IT dynamics and the history of computer software systems being completed "on time" can you name ONE?

They would also need to be fully aware of the intricate workings of our federal government, and the computer systems used by them.

I could go on...and on...and on...and on....

Bottom line is there are NO experts in the field of "Y2K"

Yet almost everyone in a position of power...say....

Here's a little song I wrote... And you better believe it note for note...

Don't happy...

Y2K will be a non-event and those who say differently must repent...

Don't happy....

Don't worry about your family.... You can always depend on me...

Don't happy...

Bury your head in the sand... We are always here to give you a hand...

Don't happy....


-- Whitney (, October 06, 1999.

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