By Edvard A. Hemmingsen
Finally, we now have entered the last year of civilization as we know it, perhaps even the end of humanity or the world. This according to doomsayers, lunatics, and others of similar ilk; all because we are ending the millennium, or because computers will be done in by the "Y2K-bug" or both.
Not unexpectedly, even TV preachers Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have gotten into the act with all kinds of dire predictions; they are urging people to stockpile supplies and to otherwise prepare themselves for societal unrest.
In our increasingly complex society, where computers have taken on such a dominant role in running business and technical devices, it is to be expected that there will be some glitches and smaller problems in some areas when the 1999-to-2000 transition occurs. But clearly no major national or global disasters are going to occur. Solving the Y2K-computer problems is not difficult, just time-consuming and costly. But the financial stakes for businesses and other organizations are too high if it is not corrected. The threat of losing money gets everybodies' attention.
The fear of disasters and of Armageddon when this millennium "ends" at midnight on December 31, 1999, would be amusing if there were not so many people who seem to take it seriously. Not only is January 1, 2000, just the start of the final year of the present millennium and not the start of the next one (count the years if you wish starting with 1 A.D.), the millennium year count is based on a highly uncertain start point since no one knows the actual birth date of Jesus. (Did not King Herod, who died in the year 4 B.C., using the current calendric counting, order the killing of all newborn males at the time of Jesus' birth?)
But let all of the concerned people get this millennium year "out of their system" so that more significant problems facing humanity can be addressed. But will this happen? When it is discovered at the end of this year that none of the Armageddon predictions materialized, and only cult suicides made the news headlines, the claim will arise: we missed by a year! And so it will go on - and on - and on!
Where does SDARI fit in with all of this? Obviously we can do little about the people who actively generate and perpetuate the millennium hysteria. But we can help make the public aware of the irrationality behind the hysteria. We can continue to point out to the news media what is rational and logical in this matter. We will continue to offer to the public lectures that demonstrate how and why reason, rationality and scientific approaches are important in all of life's endeavors. We need to get more people to our meetings this year. We have three very fine lectures scheduled so far, and others in the wings. To all of you members: Do your share to help us with this. Then we will have a good year. And I am sure that we will be here next year doing the same thing!!!
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