Costs of Fear: Y2K, Harold Camping, Al Gore, the Mayan Apocalypse


The following are popular predictions of our time. Their cost to society is something to consider:

  • 2000: World chaos was predicted by the crash of the world’s computer systems. Cost to prepare: $500,000,000,000.
  • 2011: Harold Camping claimed May 21, 2011, as end of the world. Cost of advertising: $80,000,000.
  • 2012: The Mayan Calendar is ending, so that must mean the end of the world. Costs are still uncounted, but probably billions.
  • 2016: Al Gore predicted scorching heat that will debilitate the planet by 2016. Cost of re-engineering the world’s economies: $45,000,000,000,000.

Millions, billions, trillions – such a waste. It’s disturbing to witness people hoard food and stock up on wax candles, sometimes at the expense of their life savings. Such a waste of money and human resources. The latest Mayan Calendar craze is wracking up its hefty cost to the gullible, I’m sure. 

Judgment Day May 21What is the cause for these things? I suspect it is fear. It’s irrational. I try to be intentional in ridding my thinking of such gibberish. In all seriousness, this is what Training Minds – the organization I run to help “train the mind for action” in academic speech and debate – tries to do. We teach critical thinking with the hopes that a new generation will rise up free from such scare tactics.

My wife, Wendy, and I wrote about such thinking in our book, Love Another Child. The book takes on the fear young couples have with hesitating to have children. It’s too bad, really. Like those wasting their money on the end of the Mayan Calendar, people refuse the blessings of life for fear of the end of the world:

“Every decade seems to go through its own scary, doom-and-gloom scenarios. In the 90′s, the tropical rain forests were on a course for destruction, and the entire West was degenerating into a desert wasteland. Today the jungles of Brazil are just as thick as ever. Remember the evils of Y2K? … For the past several years, every bird flu outbreak has a predicted course of wiping out one-fifth of the world’s population. It never does.

“Parents should push against any theory, idea or even apparent scientific finding that flaunts its arrogance by posing as a fearmonger. Because the element consistent with all these doomsday scenarios is fear. Fear and change, that is. And usually change that involves money to invest, lives to change and freedom to surrender. Fear is a tool to control the masses, and it is precisely what is evidenced in the environmental movement.”

Just something to think about today. See you tomorrow!

Are you a debater? Join me in Colorado in July for the Training Minds Camp!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RickStevens

    Not only I planning on being around for tomorrow, I’m bracing myself for the non-stop playing of REM tunes. Not to mention that the world can’t end tomorrow…I have appointments next week!

  • Bea76

    Y2K was real. There were some small issues but the public was not impacted, only the military that I know of. If the military had not spent the money fixing the vast majority of issues, the results would of been disasterous.

    Global warming is a reality, although I know you don’t agree with that.

    Camping and the Mayan stuff was hogwash.

    • I disagree with your opinion about global warming but that’s a whole other “Science VS Science” discussion haha

    • Your answer is interesting, Bea. You’re calling Y2K “real” even though the predictions never came to pass. Global warming is very similar, but the doom-mongers aren’t held accountable to a specific date.

      • Bea76

        Chris, the predictions never came to pass because money was spent to divert the issue. I need to caveat that by saying that money was spent to prevent the utilities grid, airlines, banks, financial systems, satellites,military, etc from going belly up. The sun crashing to earth or something stupid like that was just stupid. Many critical systems were running on obsolete hardware and software that was created in the 70’s and 80’s which did not take into account the systems may still be fielded in 2000. Honestly part of it was the technology held up a lot better than anyone thought and part of it was engineers not thinking big, big picture. I was supporting the military and on 1/2/00 I went to run a tool we always run to calculate some stuff that would then be included in commanding to satellites and the tool blew up on me. The issue? Microsoft Excel and the version was the recent one. Even when Microsoft fielded Excel there was a Y2K glitch in it but if you regularly patched your system they fixed it. With a computer “off the grid” the issue was never patched till I found it.

        So global warming isn’t real because there isn’t a specific date that it will all go down the tubes? That’s like saying death doesn’t exist because you can’t predict the date a baby will die when it’s born. Come on!

  • From my best understanding, the only rationale behind the date December 21st, 2012 is that the Mayans felt it unnecessary to pursue their calendar after that date. It’s almost like “Oops were out of chalk, let’s just finish this thing later.” Haha

    • Chalk…that’s funny. That’s my understanding of it all, too.

      • Guest

        Well, this may be more likely… (see pic)