The Doomsday Clock Fraud And The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by a group of Manhattan Project scientists who helped to develop the nuclear weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nakasaki, ending the Second World War.  The founders of Bulletin included University of Chicago biophysicist Eugene Rabinowitz and physicist Hyman Goldsmith, who recruited a founding board of directors that included, among others, Max Born, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Bertrand Russell, a group that included seven Nobel Laureates.  The Bulletin’s current board of sponsors now includes 14 Nobel Prize winners.

Originally called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago, the non-profit organization publishes a bi-monthly nontechnical academic journal. The Atomic Scientists journal was the 1,368th most influential publication in 2018, and it’s world-famous Doomsday Clock has been ticking down to “the apocalypse” since 1947.

When it started publishing press releases about its Doomsday Clock,  the rationale for the clock was that it was predicting how close the world was to a specifically NUCLEAR holocaust.

After the Soviet Union finally collapsed on December 26, 1991, the prospect for a world-wide nuclear war faded, a fading accelerated by nuclear arms reduction treaties, so the Bulletin now also takes into account economic and environmental issues.

In 2020, the Bulletin adjusted its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight, with midnight representing the apocalypse, indicating that we are closer than ever before to “the end of all things,” to steal a phrase from Lord of the Rings.

Yesterday, apparently, the Bulletin sent out a press release to the effect that they were not going to change the setting on the clock, keeping the second hand at 1oo seconds to midnight.

Let take a breath. Count to 100. Look around. Has the Apocalypse happened yet?

No, it hasn’t.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists may be an admirable effort toward raising our collective consciousness about the threats around us, but the Doomsday Clock is a fraud because it keeps predicting things that have never happened.

In a sense, the Doomsday Clock is like the boy who cried wolf falsely so many times that when, when the wolf was finally in evidence, no one believed the boy’s warning, resulting in the inevitable consequences that false warnings cause.

There is a logical incongruity in predicting an event that never happens and continuing to predict that event is about to happen.

It’s fear-mongering. It’s also click-bait, just like the title of this article.

It is irrational to warn people about an impending event that they can do nothing to avert, but such warnings increase our unease about the world around us and the threats that disturb or sleep at night.

We have been living in a crisis-culture environment since September 11, 2001, which marks the point where our collective national confidence shifted from an overall optimistic belief in our individual and collective safety to a deep-seated fear of various forces and conditions beyond our individual control.

The 9/11 attack followed right after the collapse of the Dot.Com bubble which, in turn, fueled the real estate meltdown in 2008, which collapsed a significant percentage of the economy and bankrupted millions of American families.

In the aftermath of the real estate meltdown, we have been living what might be termed a hand-to-mouth economy,  in which millions of Americans have found themselves hard-pressed to keep up with their bills, to say nothing of getting ahead of them.

That takes a toll on the emotional health of the people in a society afflicted with economic instability. As increasing numbers of people have lost higher-paying jobs and been forced to take lower-paying gigs, those who haven’t felt the bite yet feel increasingly insecure, wondering whether they will weather the storm or not.

We have enough sources of angst-driven anxiety. We don’t need any more.

The Doomsday Clock was a clever device for raising the collective consciousness of the American people to the dangers of the nuclear age but the Doomsday Clock has been predicting an imminent doomsday for 74 years without that doomsday ever becoming real.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as pleased as punch (whatever that means) that they have been wrong for the past 74 years, but it is also way past time for them to stop beating the dead horse.

We have learned to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation, just as we have learned to live with the “communist threat,”  runaway inflation, and the national debt,  and we are now learning to cope with the changes that the environmental crisis, the Chinese menace, and increasingly tense race relations are forcing upon us.

The environment of fear isn’t solely due to 9/11. The media is now beating drums over the “first” domestic terror incident at the U.S. Capitol, ignoring the long history of domestic terrorist attacks from both right and left-wing organizations. (The ones in red were attacks from the left. The ones in blue were attacks from the right, including racist attacks.) These include:

  • Haymarket Square (Chicago) bombing of 1886
  • Los Angeles Times Building bombing in 1910
  • San Francisco Parade bombing of 1916
  • 1917 Police Station bombing in Milwaukee 
  • 1920 Wall Street bombing
  • Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
  • 1927 Bath Township (MI) School bombing
  • Bombing of the British Pavilion at the 1940 World’s Fair in New York 
  • Mad Bomber (George Metesky) who planted over 30 bombs in NYC from 1940 to 1956
  • Florida Lynching Rampage of 1951
  • 1954 Attack on the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists
  • 1957 School bombing in Nashville, TN
  • 1958 bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple in Atlanta Georgia
  • 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
  • 1964 burning of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Mississippi
  • 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodwin, and Schwerner
  • 1965 murder of Viola Liuzzo
  • 1975 La Guardia Airport bombing
  • 1979 Greensboro (NC) Massacre
  • 1992 Ruby Ridge shooting
  • 1993 Branch Davidian Massacre in Waco, Texas
  • 1995 Oklahoma City bombing
  • 2017 Charlottesville car attack
  • 2021 Assault on the Capital

From this impartial listing, it immediately becomes clear that domestic terrorism is very deeply connected to right-wing, racist, and anti-Semitic belief systems that have been encouraged and exacerbated by a widespread propaganda campaign involving both fiction and non-fiction books, films (anything with Steve Bannon’s name attached to it, for starters), periodicals including daily newspapers around the United States, talk radio, cable television, and the Internet.

Personally, I am already too busy worrying about the Proud Boys, the Oath Takers, the razor-thin Democratic majority in the House, gun-toting members of the House who have literally written about wanting to put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi’s head. I’m busy worrying about the fact that the Democratic party has two leaders, Nancy Pelosi in the House, and Patrick Leahy in the Senate, who are 80 years 0ld and not in the best of health. Hell, I’m worried about the fact that the loss of any member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate could derail President Biden’s efforts to undo the damage The Donald wrought during his tenure in the White House, not to mention my own health and the fact that I can’t seem to get the vaccine.

No, I’m full up. I really can’t worry about the Doomsday Clock.