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Offline Lord Commissar Spiteful

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The Doomsday Clock - WTF
« on: May 9, 2012, 11:59:18 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock

Everyone should be familiar with the concept (albeit some of you through Watchmen), a group of scientists involved with the manhatten project established he concept of a doomsday clock where humanity was a certain number of minutes away from midnight (midnight representing nuclear conflict). In 1947 it started at seven minutes to midnight (before Russia had the bomb no-less) and now has just been readjusted 1 minute closer to midnight from its 2002 position of 7 minutes to midnight.

WTF.

I love the concept of a doomsday clock, but isn't there something about those numbers that seem a little bit exessive? Does the clock represent humanity's history as a whole with midnight representing some sort of end, or is it more of a precentage chance of a nuclear war in the next X time period. And, shouldn't we be able to retroactively correct the clock to accurate levels, ie when we were literally seconds away from nuclear war during the cuban missile crisis when a soviet submarine under simulated depth charge attack decided by a vote whether they should launch nukes click.

Basically, I find the concept fascinating, but find it hard to believe that the world's foremost minds had come up with such an arbitrary and useless measure of global capacity for nuclear war. Sure, the world today is a lot more unpredictable than during the cold war and proliferation is a serious issue, but at what level would you realistically put the clock at. And more importantly, how exacly would you define what the clock represents, to turn it into less of an arbitrary warning level and more into a proper forecasting tool representing actual risk?

Just a thought.

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Offline Alienscar

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Re: The Doomsday Clock - WTF
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2012, 09:51:44 AM »
and now has just been readjusted 1 minute closer to midnight from its 2002 position of 7 minutes to midnight.

I can't help thinking that your post sums up nicely just how useless the Doomsday Clock is to the average person. According to the BBC News the Clock was actually changed in January of this year to 5 minutes to midnight from its 2010 value of 6 minutes. Since its inception the Clock has been changed 20 times but how many of us were aware of these changes? It has been as close as two minutes and as far away as 17 and I don't remember any panic or sense of relief occurring as the Clock was changed. Also, as it is only displayed in the University of Chicago and on the Bulletin issued by the BAS, as a warning tool these facts alone make it fairly redundant. Of course it isn't meant to be a warning its just the scientists way of giving the people at the top there opinion on how things stand. Nowadays, well since 2007, the Clock isn't just about the impending Nuclear Apocalypse but also includes the threat of Climate Change, bioterrorism and biotechnology (virus and DNA tinkering to you and me).

less of an arbitrary warning level and more into a proper forecasting tool representing actual risk?

Overall I'm not convinced that many of us want to know how near the end is. Can you imagine the panic that would ensue if an accurate forecasting machine said the Apocalypse was coming tomorrow? Also due to the nature of many of the truly world destroying events, Super volcanoes, massive earthquakes and the like, whilst maybe predictable they are unstoppable, I think, so why worry about them. From a nuclear point of view, as there are people involved this makes them fairly unpredictable and possibly beyond accurate forecasting. Anybody capable of pushing that button is plainly not thinking rashly.

Edit: fixed quotes
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 02:54:46 AM by Alienscar »
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Offline Lachdonin

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Re: The Doomsday Clock - WTF
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2012, 03:04:13 PM »
Can you imagine the panic that would ensue if an accurate forecasting machine said the Apocalypse was coming tomorrow?

Wait until Dec 20th...

Seriously though, i think the clock is less a representation of how close we are to 'The End' and more a gauge of how the tenious the G8 feels their power is. It's an unfortunate reality that, for the last 60 years, having Nuclear Weapons has been a mark of a countries entrance into 'the big leagues' (which explains why Canada is still largely viewed as the USA's little brother) and with countries like Iran and North Korea developing their own weapons it makes the dominant players, particularly the Americans, British and French, nervous.

The clock, while it may have been an admirable idea in the beginning, now represents nothing more than an imperialists gauge of comfort. The further from Midnight the clock is, the more the current hegemonic powers are comfortable in their possition. I don't think it has anything to do anymore with the threat of a nuclear apocalypse.
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