Take the Conficker issue: no, it did not make the intertubes get up and strangle everybody. Neither did, if you will recall, the Y2k monster.
Surprise there, huh? Or not. The thing about alarmists that gets me is the fact that they prey on the ignorant and the naive. And every time an apocalyptic date passes by without incident, boy must they be laughing up their sleeves at the chaos they caused. What people miss is the fact that while they are laughing, they are counting the money they made, and are already planning the next hoax/heist.
So what are the warning signs I look out for when trying to judge whether someone has a valid point, or whether they are trying to see how high they can make me jump and how fast they can make me run in circles? Easy, it’s in the words they choose. When I see words like “crisis”, “urgent”, “doomed”, and the ever present “Click here!”.
Hey, what about that last one? See that one is the catch. They need to draw your attention, they need to inspire fear, and then they have to show you the way out. Because that’s how they make money. It is the classic “stick or carrot” strategy, except in this case it is the “stick AND carrot strategy”, but the truth is both the stick and carrot are fake. Every alarmist in every apocalyptic crisis claim (or claimed) that this one is going to take you down, and only by paying them lots of money can you save you, your belongings, your kids and your way of life.
But the alarmists are getting smarter. Apocalyptic dates are easy to deal with. Hunker down, watch the second hand roll over, cautiously stand up, and see that no, the world did not end. Phew. So these greedy pranksters have figured out that maybe we need to not mention dates, which almost makes the coming apocalypse more threatening, since it can strike tomorrow, or the day after, but maybe not for decades, but it is still coming!
This makes it easy for them to deal with an “apparent” calm time, because this will always be “the calm before the storm”. As in “did you think the last crisis was bad? There is an even bigger one, this is just the calm before it hits! Click here!”.
Pick You Apocalypse: Y2k, Terrorists, Supergerms, (and on the flipside) Vaccines, Oil Shortages, Solar storms, Global Warming… It is the same story every time. I am becoming a little desensitized to it all.