Is the Doomsday Clock Useful in Modern Times?

Over 70 years ago, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine debuted with a cover displaying a clock set to 7 minutes before midnight. The clock, which would be dubbed the “Doomsday Clock”, served as a representation of impending global annihilation and has been used all the way up to the present time. This ominous symbol has recently made headlines for being moved up to 100 metaphorical seconds from worldwide destruction.

As prominent leaders and intellectual dignitaries reflect on the state of affairs, one question seemingly eludes the discussion: Why the need for the clock at all?

It is no secret that the intelligentsia has a tendency towards conceit and a penchant for elevating themselves into influential positions. These characteristics have been noted by great minds such as Thomas Sowell, Eric Hoffer, and FA Hayek. Even so, the use of a prop to convey danger as if attempting to explain some esoteric concept to ignorant children is a superfluous gesture.

The resources of the 21st century have made spreading knowledge more quick and efficient than ever before. There are TV and streaming channels that only show news 24/7. In mere seconds, a breaking report can appear world wide on search engines used by billions of people. At the spur of a moment, virtually anybody can type a compact message on their phone and post it to one site (Twitter) to go viral within an hour. One does not need any coding knowledge or large sums of money to start a blog and begin producing content to their hearts desire. With news aggregators, readers can centralize information from multiple sources. A brief online search will yield sites dedicated to either the most broad or narrow of focuses. Free and inexpensive eBooks are available across multiple platforms covering almost any conceivable topic. If any piece of information proves too complicated to understand in its original form, there are a plethora of sources from novice books to online gurus to help break down the complexities.

With all these contemporary amenities, an “expert” has ample opportunity to not only showcase their knowledge and insights to the public but explain them with as much depth and preferred wording as they want. If the experts themselves are not able to convey their points to the public, there are more than enough technical writers and figureheads who will.

Yet, in the most advanced age civilization has known, the great sages continue to employ an inherently arbitrary gimmick. If the deadly factors currently brewing in the world are as dire as the rhetoric supposes, then the intelligentsia would be most useful in producing impartial, thorough, and vigorously researched analyses. Although the factors that determine human catastrophe are too variable, plentiful, and nuanced for any group of minds to completely encompass, resorting to a publicity stunt to get a serious point across makes a mockery of situation and ought be eschewed in favor of a discernible approach.

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