Archive for March, 2016

For the Sake of Accuracy…

Posted in Grumblings on March 24, 2016 by chemiclord

Reddit’s r/shitpost should just redirect straight to reddit.com.

That is all.

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On Weighted Scales…

Posted in Grumblings on March 3, 2016 by chemiclord

I’ve got a real big problem with the Doomsday Clock.

In case any of you don’t know what it is, it was first unveiled in 1947 as the nuclear race was gearing up, and well meaning scientists and leaders wanted to put how close we were to nuclear annihilation into terms that the general public could understand.

Theory goes, if the utter destruction of the human race was 12:00am, people would see us at 11:55pm, and be stirred to action, demanding leaders to take their fingers off their respective buttons, and return to their senses.

Whether or not it is effective (let’s be honest, it’s not), it sounds like a perfectly noble cause.  So why do I have a problem with it?

It’s because of news like this: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/us/doomsday-clock-feat/

No, it’s not inherently because the clock is currently three minutes to midnight, barely one minute behind a period where the U.S. and the Soviet Union were actively testing ever larger thermonuclear weapons and the Cuban Missile Crisis (although it is fairly silly).  It’s not that the doomsday clock is now factoring in things like climate change (because climate change is a very big deal, even though the original designers of the doomsday clock wouldn’t even shift the minute hand one angstrom over a calamity approximately 100 years off).

The problem is that in the entire time of its inception, the Doomsday Clock has never been dialed back to any point earlier than 11:43pm.  They created a mechanism that by the very advancement of humanity and the clock’s own precedent cannot possibly use anything other than a narrow window that insinuates dire omens.

Okay… so why is that a problem?

Let me put it this way; Americans may remember the ill fated Homeland Security Advisory System, the color coded “threat level” of terrorist attack brought forward in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  It was five step scale, ostensibly going from “Low” (green), “Guarded” (blue), “Elevated” (yellow), “High” (orange), to “Severe” (red), but it quickly became clear that the system wasn’t ever going to fall below the yellow, “Elevated” level.

As a result, the HSAS quickly became a joke, and summarily dismissed and ignored before finally meeting a ignoble end in 2011.  The problem that the HSAS had is the same problem that the Doomsday Clock has, and what any such ‘weighted scale’ eventually has… when everything is a problem, eventually nothing is a problem.

But why even do something like that in the first place?  Well, kinda for the same reason why your usual video game review magazine will have a 1 to 10 scale, but you’ll rarely (if ever) see something fall below a 6.

It’s to manipulate public opinion.  But unlike video game mags using a weighted scale to hopefully convince you Aliens: Colonial Marines isn’t total puke garbage, the presenters of the Doomsday Clock and the Department of Homeland Security try to use the rhetoric of fear.

The goal is to scare you into doing what they want; whatever goal that might be.  Because a scared society doesn’t question.  A society that doesn’t question lets its leaders do whatever it wants so that its citizens can feel safe.

And it’s a horrible way to influence opinion… because eventually fear fails.  Eventually you cry wolf too many times over less pressing dangers, to the point where you have a people that simply aren’t listening by the time immediate dangers that need an immediate response come around.

To the operators of the Doomsday Clock; we are not three minutes to our destruction.  Stop pretending we are.

Thanks.