Planetary Extinction: When Prophesy fails

I changed the tag line to my blog recently. Now I’ve changed it back again.

I had changed it to the a leading quote from a famous doom-laden apocalyptic treatise from the 1970’s called “The Doomsday Book” (Its still here on these links Amazon UK & Amazon USA)

The quote was:
“If you believe that you will survive the next 30 years think again!”

I tagged it with the author and the date of publication
“Gordon Rattray-Taylor (1972)”

I had hoped that the “1972” would be an amusing give-a-way and that people would realise that since publication 47 years have elapsed.

But sadly no.

It seems at least one of my readers thought Billothewisp had himself turned into a doomster.

Of course I hadn’t. It was just my joke had fallen flat.

But then I wondered why people cling to unmodified theories that are delineated with failed prophesies and yet still find them compelling.

Take a look at the reviews for the Doomsday Book on Amazon. The book is very old and vastly pre-dates the internet so there’s only 1 electronic review in the USA and 4 in the UK.

Surprisingly you will find all but one of these reviews (all written more than 30 years after publication) are supportive. Even though the base prophesy of the book was plainly wrong and expired well before the reviews were written, the reviews for this dark tome show the reviewer still clinging to the core armageddon-esque beliefs of the book.

So why, in a world that is clearly and measurably getting better on almost every metric available, do people (in essence) hold to Mr Rattray-Taylors prophesies of doom?

Mr Rattray-Taylor departed this earth in 1981. No doubt he firmly expected that the rest of us would be following him down the dark tunnel in short order.

But of course, that has not happened.

In fact, by just about every metric that matters, the world has become a much, much better place.

But many are in denial about this improvement in the world.

In addition to this denial we have various new/reworked Armageddon predictions which declare that “something must be done”.

The timescale for that “something” ranges from one year (Prince Charles), eighteen Months (Extinction Rebellion), to more plausible but still tenuous timescales of ten years and thirty years.

To give that “something” a name is somewhat difficult as it keeps changing. It was Global Warming, then it turned to Climate Change. But now “Climate Change” no longer appears to be urgent enough. So it has been modified to a “Climate Emergency”.

My posts are not against the concept of the “something” known as Global Warming. Nor are they against any other section of science that gets exploited with dubious reasoning.

The purpose is to explore the exploitative dubious reasoning itself and see how it stacks up.

So lets look more closely at these predictions and monitor their progress. I also want to look at earlier predictions associated with this “something”.

But most importantly I want to see what happens when a prophesy concerning this “something” fails. Then I want to examine how that failure changes (or not) the attitudes to the core beliefs on which that prophesy is based. As well as that I want to see how (or not) the theory gets modified to accommodate reality.

From what I’ve seen so far, the social results are clearly identifiable using the work of legendary Social Scientist Leon Festinger. They are also somewhat disconcerting.

So my next post will concern Al Gore and his 2006 statement that the Arctic would be Ice free in Summer by 2016. I will also expand out Festingers key analysis and see how this fits with Mr Gore.

Later on (next week?) I intend looking more closely at Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion is an organisation which really worries me. It has all the hallmarks of a cult and I would be very worried if any of my family got tied in with it. It needs closer examination.

Then sometime in the dim and distant future I’ll finish off with more mainstream and respectable organisations like the BBC.

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