debunkers article part2 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

people who regard technologists as automatic "experts" on the societal impact of Y2K.

Investing heavily in a meme makes the meme harder to shake off. People who have gone so far as to relocate, sell assets, stockpile food, and persuade friends find it hard to consider that it might have been unnecessary. [hey I regard it as necessary anyway, I once stopped at 'enough for my family' but I realized 'if nobody does anything, what I have done amounts to nothing, so I better lay in some stuff for others' call me crazy] Instead, they may feel fond of including themselves in the minority "smart enough" to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. [ok, ya got me] This helps the meme spread, by keeping the host contagious longer. For many, recovery will not happen until the year 2000. [I'm not planning on 'recovering' until spring 2000 if nothing happens, he's right here] Even after calamity fails to strike that year, some will continue believing in the wisdom of their actions as "better safe than sorry." Those who sounded the most dire warnings will even take credit for saving civilization by pressuring sluggish organizations to act. [wow, if he;s right this debate will be going on for decades.. but who cares? We should be figuring out if it will be 'safe or 'sorry'. With diismal rates of prep, it BETTER be 'safe' or we are all gonna be 'sorry'!!]

A less drastic version of the Y2K preparation movement calls for action focused on a community level instead of moving to remote cabins. The approach is generally more constructive, but still thrives on the contagiousness of dire predictions. The main difference is that this type of Y2K movement tells its adherents that to save themselves, they must save their communities. That means going forth to persuade as many neighbors as possible in order to launch community-wide efforts. It has the benefit of making communities more disaster-resilient and competes for adherents with isolationist messages. Yet the people most motivated to spread the movement in the community are often still the ones with unrealistically dire expectations. [great so this = no y2k ready communities, let's bet the farm martha yeeeehaaaaa!!!!]

Sometimes, dire warnings will spur sluggish bureaucracies into fixing their software. In other cases, dire warnings will interfere with the work, by inspiring key employees to quit and head for remote cabins. Indeed, some prominent Y2K extremists actively encourage programmers to quit their jobs in 1999. [well, these nefarious evildoesr were thwarted due, in part, to folks like you, so pat yourself on the back] And they are already having some success in 1998, according to the August 1998 Wired article "The Y2K Solution: Run for Your Life!!" In effect, it gives programmers mental software that "crashes" in an endless loop of terrifying thoughts. Apocalypse warnings also leave some administrators thinking, "If this message is true, then I have no reason to bestir myself to elaborate action, because my organization has no function in a collapsed civilization." All of this makes Y2K worse, not better. The direst warnings can also give administrators a sense that the whole thing is just hype and hysteria. In other words, irrational beliefs about Y2K act as conceptually "weakened strains," immunizing some people against the idea that there is any problem to fix at all. To thepanic-stricken, these occasional "Y2K-denyers" look like captains of the Titanic--and "proof" that a catastrophe really will strike. This strengthens conviction and the urge to warn others, keeping the millennium contagion of doomsday memes as tenacious as it is infectious. [ok so you've identified the y2k psychological problem so what? Does that mean you are running for the hills or not? To me it seems that 99.99% of humannity has followed your little model,one way or the other. 'thei makes y2k worse not better' uuuuuhhh let's take disasters and calamities for $1000 alex]

The Y2K apocalypse memes also thrive on already prevalent religious doomsaying. Endemic beliefs that "the end is near" make it easier to think that deadly sin of digital sloth will get the End started. Fundamentalists who see the fading plausibility of an End Times coming from the Soviet "evil empire" can turn their attention to the technocrats. So the belief in a technological debacle spreads vigorously in many religious circles, which have produced some of the loudest Y2K doomsayers. This includes conservative Christian activist Gary North, who widely proclaims the Y2K apocalypse in computer terms that persuade even the non-religious. Meanwhile, the secular doomsday meme renders its hosts more susceptible to religious evangelism. Many evangelicals point to the millennium bug as a "sign" that they and the book of Revelation were right all along. Religious hell memes help the evangelism work, since they imply infinite suffering for mistakenly "rejecting Christ" but little penalty for mistakenly converting. [ever heard of Pascal's wager dummy? There IS very little downside, unless of course Mohammed was right.] In any case, even the most atheistic doomsaying has roots in religion. [that's a strange bit of twisted logic: all doomsaying is the product of religious freaks, whether it's religious or not hmmmm] After all, a religious thought contagion got us counting the years since the birth of Jesus in the first place.

When the year 2000 arrives, most evangelicals who thought the Y2K bug would play a role in the End Times will revert to the more date-neutral Adventism they held before the software story broke. We should, however, expect some extreme cults to have serious problems with a world that refuses to end. We should also expect a few groups to believe not only that the End Times are upon us, but that they have a divinely ordained role in causing it. This could mean a cluster of strange events such as the Heaven's Gate tragedy and the Tokyo attack by the doomsday cult Aum Shinri Kyo. Some of these will happen after 2000, owing to revised estimates of the birth date of Jesus and the legacy of starting a millennium on 1 AD rather than 0 AD. [To quote gary north: 'cults and whackos. Cults and whackos, and we all know what happens to cults and whacko's don't we?']

The rest of society will also have many people hearing of "the coming anarchy." Unfortunately, some will act accordingly, despite an increased police presence. Being infected with a belief that "the end is near" can make the criminal element more active, since apocalypse implies no penalty for getting caught. A few people may even try to foment chaos, for the simple reason that they have prepared so well for it and do not want their efforts and emotional investment wasted. [such people should be shot] With extremists like Gary North [nice neutral observer tone here]viewing Y2K as deliverance from an evil social order, some followers may even try to hasten the apocalypse through sabotage. Talk of "the end" can also confuse and upset children. It may steal a sense of the future from them, perhaps diminishing their incentives to prepare for adulthood. [ a combination of 'cults and whackos' and 'think of the children!!!' you sir are a complete and utter ass]

To prevent such troubles we should counter the spread of destructive apocalypse memes long before December 31, 1999. This means explaining the viral nature of such memes to those yet unaffected, to immunize them from communicable panic.

Bringing a sense of perspective [I've made it a policy to never trust anybody who utters the phrase: 'a sense of perspective'] to people who already believe in millennial cataclysm will often be difficult. From their point of view, asking them to change their minds amounts to asking them to risk their lives and the lives of loved ones. Many will also have logic resistant ideas, and will have already invested heavily in them. For them, we might do better to explain the thought contagion to them in hopes of slowing their efforts to convert others. A combination package of helpful information works best. Start by showing them this article. To explain that life will continue even if severe glitches abound, [yeah a live of hunger and financial loss, no thank you] show them the article by Peter de Jager, the world's foremost proponent of Y2K fixes. [uh huh: mr. 'we've broken the back of y2k, C.O. the BBC, thanks pete, thanks a lot] To further show that thought contagions are real, [a good copy of the communist manifesto will show that] and to put the millennium contagion in a broader context, show them the book Thought Contagion.

We all need to think twice about our roles as contagious information carriers before rushing speculation and rumor onto the Internet or over the phone lines. If a thought you acquired from someone holds your attention and makes you impatient to tell others, then ask if that's how the idea spread itself to you from the last person. If so, then take this as reason to pause for some level-headed research. [just for your inof I collected info for a good 6 months before telling my closest DGI friends, for 2 reasons #1 I wanted to be sure, and #2 what good does it do to say 'look, you're in deep doo-doo, sorry, but I can't help you, just thought you'd like to know.'] To do otherwise may impede work on the actual computer problem. Moreover, telling others to hoard large supplies of goods can eventually cause the very shortages we want to avoid. [we have crippling spam shortages already!! And y'all know that spam and banks are more important than people! (ok maybe I'm not being fair, but it felt soooo good!!)] Telling them to convert money and securities to currency and gold could disrupt financial markets more than the most wayward computer could. [ummm noo, we could put it back, besides cascading cross defaults will do far more damage than massive gold fluctuations and moratoriums on withdrawls] Transmitting predictions of anarchy could incite latent criminality to action in some people. Advocating large bank withdrawals could make you a target for robbers who assume you will practice what you preach. [huge, slobbering mutant robbers, with huge erect hard on's just waiting for your young nubile daughters to be rounding a dark corner in the big bad city laden down with cash and blah blah blah blah] And those who hear your message could invite trouble by talking freely about their own withdrawal plans--perhaps from feeling too excited about the millennium to remember everyday security measures. [what excitement?]

We thus have two problems on our hands: the century bug of the computers, and the millennium thought contagion of the human mind. If you are a computer expert or manager responsible for real computer problems, then of course continue your projects. Don't let messages about "the end" interfere with your clear thinking. [what clear thinking? The average joe is a moron! That's what your essay is all about! If they had 'clear thinking' to begin with, they wouldn't need you! Or are you just incompetent and preaching to the choir?] For everyone else seeking a role in Y2K, consider helping the information health of society. [ I never thought I would see a phrase that insulting until now] Instead of warning friends about the millennium doom, warn them about the millennium contagion--the millennium thought contagion. Let's bring everyone up to year 2000 readiness, both electronically and mentally!

-- jeremiah (, November 17, 1999


.....sigh..... My cup runneth over with memes...

If it's not too stupid a question, who is Aaron Lynch, anyway?

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 17, 1999.

So let me get this straight, your meme says this "Y2k is not a technical problem it is a mass hallucination perpetuated by computer techs with self esteem issues."

I can see how this meme would appeal to people who have been watching too much TV. In TV land there is no problem which can't be wrapped up before the next show comes on. Unfortunatly, Y2k is a technical and economic challenge. It is not a made for TV movie.

I am not a techie. Nor do I feel any particular awe for geeks. I have known way too many both personally and professionally too be under any kind of illusion that they have some sort of superior brain capacity.

I do, however, understand stats and economic theory. Also I can read. I have certain amount of grudging respect for the CIA.

In any event, critical thinking and research are the ultimate remedy for any flawed meme. I suggest that you apply both to your concerns for Y2k asap. Rather than just doing a cut and paste of somebody elses' opinion. Think for yourself!!!!! Once you try it you will be thrilled by the results.

-- River Soma (, November 17, 1999.

Let me paraphrase this, then, Jeremeiah:

Yadda, Yadda, yadda.

-- SH (squirrl@huntr.som), November 17, 1999.

Memetics is only concerned about how ideas spread amongst people. It has nothing to say about whether the ideas themselves are true or false.

In other words, memetics cannot say how Y2K will turn out either way.



-- Shuggy (, November 17, 1999.

I'm tierd of this kind of psych babble. Here's why we prepared: 1) I'm 61 and retired. I can never replace assets lost to Y2K problems. 2) My dad's father came from a wealthy family and became welathy in his own right. He lost every damn thing in the Depression and could never rebuild his business. He died a broken man in a crappy little apartment. I swore that would never happen to me.

No matter how Y2K turns out, I will be able to continue to live more or less as I always have. If nothing happens, I have some food and an alternative power system that I've always wanted anyway.

All I'm doing is using common sense.


-- Todd Detzel (, November 17, 1999.

gee shuggy, brilliant, it almost seems as if this article should be on a site about meme's.... but it's not... duh it's on the debunkers site, that's why i went after it. this guy is using his "meme" argument and pasting y2k onto it to make preparers look like rubes, when he ignores the very same tactics being used by the pollies to a much greater effect... can we say hypocrite?

-- jeremiah (, November 17, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

See my first post at the following thread about The interaction between human evolution and the marketplace of ideas

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), November 17, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ