Armageddon Within Our Lifetime? (2 of 2)

Armageddon Within Our Lifetime? (2 of 2) September 9, 2016

In part 1, we considered the signs that the gospel of Luke gives for the end times. Pestilence, famine, earthquake? Despite what excitable television personalities would like to believe, these are not increasing, and modern technology is doing a lot more than Christianity ever did in addressing them.

There’s one more in Luke’s list that we should consider.

Is war getting better or worse?

There are always lots of conflicts in the world. Are they increasing?

Steven Pinker looks at history and draws an optimistic conclusion in his TED video “The Surprising Decline in Violence” (2007). He says, “Today, we are probably living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.”

He argues that violence has dropped over time and that this can be seen on a fractal scale. That is, violence has consistently dropped whether you look over the long term (millennia), medium term (centuries), or short term (decades).

  • Hunter-gatherer societies of thousands of years ago were thought to have lived in primordial harmony. But if we compare modern hunter-gatherers with industrial society, we find that mortality from warfare is far higher in those societies than in Europe and the U.S. for the twentieth century, including both world wars.
  • Centuries ago in Europe, crimes that today get you a fine might have been punished with mutilation or branding. Crimes that today get you a prison term might have been punished with torture and death. Slavery was common. Manuel Eisner studied homicide rates in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present and concluded that they have dropped by two orders of magnitude.
  • Since 1945, we have seen a steep decline in wars, ethnic riots, and coups in Europe and the Americas. Yes, U.S. homicides did double during the seventies and eighties, but they’re now back down to 1950s rates.

I confess that I’m not as optimistic. I can’t argue with these facts, but there are other facts (50 million people dead from World War II) that argue that humanity still needs a lot of therapy. The best way that I see to illustrate our progress is to note that the average person in America today lives a far more comfortable, healthy, and secure life than kings from the Middle Ages.

How do we get it so wrong?

Given these facts, most of which are well known, why are we susceptible to the Chicken Littles of the world? Why do we think things are getting worse when they’re clearly getting better? Pinker answers:

  • Modern news-gathering organizations give us a much more complete view of world problems than we’ve ever had. Every hideous death and every local skirmish are made available for our consumption.
  • Bad news is more memorable, is more easily recalled, and more powerfully colors our views of the state of society.
  • Good-works organizations don’t raise money by telling us how great things are.
  • We in the West feel guilty because of the bad stuff we’ve done—the treatment of native peoples, colonization, Dresden and Hiroshima, etc.—so we downplay the good we do.
  • Our standards are outpacing our behavior. It’s easy to identify problems and raise our standards bar so that past actions are no longer acceptable, but actually changing the behavior is tougher. This is a glass half full/half empty problem: we may lament that death-row inmates have been wrongly convicted while capital punishment is still legal, but we ignore the fact that people used to be tortured to death for merely insulting the king.

This touches on the subject of my book, Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change (2006). We focus on the today’s new technology and its impact on our lives, when this is minor compared to the social upheaval that the Industrial Revolution caused. We have temporal myopia: that which is happening in front of us we see clearly, but we think little of the past.

Rules of the game

Christian pundits know the emotional buttons to push to keep the fire stoked and themselves relevant. Even when they’re plainly and laughably wrong, some are able to remain in the spotlight.

The apocalyptic book 88 Reasons the World Will End in 1988 sold 4.5 million copies. Oops—didn’t happen. Did that spectacularly bad prediction poison the well for future end-times prophets? Not at all. It’s a topic that can always be made fresh for a new generation. (That author didn’t even poison the well for himself, and he wrote books about the imminent End in three more years.)

Hal Lindsey and Pat Robertson made predictions that didn’t come true, but they’re still in the game. Evidence and accuracy are apparently malleable in this world.

That’s surprising, because the Bible itself cautions against charlatans. “We who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). The Old Testament punishment for a false prophet was severe, with no mention of second chances. God said:

A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded … is to be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. (Deuteronomy 18:20–22)

In the West, death isn’t the answer. And ridicule for false alarms isn’t doing so well, either. When close to half of Americans anticipate the second coming, these TV charlatans will still be able to push Christians’ buttons.

Folks, the end time prophesies are literally exploding before our eyes. 
That tells me the rapture of the church is even closer than we dared believe. … 
I’m so convinced that we are in the final days of this age.
— Hal Lindsey (2011)

The decade of the 1980s 
could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.
— Hal Lindsay (1980)

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 07/11/13.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sastra

    I’m trying right now to think of any religion — Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, Buddhism, New Age, etc. — which doesn’t assert that this world is lost, riddled through and through with suffering and/or getting worse and worse. This belief might be virtually non-negotiable. Without it, the spiritual healing isn’t necessary.

    • Kevin R. Cross

      Well, most of those religions had their genesi in the period before the enlightenment, and usually not in the few wealthy city-states or even fewer wealthy empires (Christianity being an exception, but from a poor and recently conquered border province). In those places and times, the lot of the average person actually was pretty crapulent – work hard for a few decades to make someone else rich, make some babies, die.
      In the modern era, we live like kings of old, on average. The world doesn’t look like a terrible and corrupt place any more.

      • epicurus

        Modern medicine alone makes this the best time to live. Imagine having a kidney stone or bad heart or wrecked knees 200 years ago

        • Greg G.

          What will those be like 200 years from now?

        • epicurus

          Hopefully we will have an easy, non-invasive way to fix them and/or prevent them before they even cause problems. And of course hopefully that will be available to all who need it.

        • epicurus

          P.S., I threw kidney stone in there as I had one pass two weeks ago. Pain like that I have never felt before, I was rolling on the floor and climbing the walls. Went to emerg and small doses of morphine were most welcome, and did more than any prayers to Jesus would have done.

        • Greg G.

          I shared a hospital room with a kidney stone patient once. He had to pee into a plastic one liter jug. Once I heard a >THUNK< and a sigh of relief.

        • Kodie

          I shared a hospital room with someone whose pee they were collecting in a jug in the toilet and didn’t come and get the jug, so I had to use a public restroom out in the hall. It was the worst hospital. I was a pretty bad patient, but it’s pretty bad when you can’t get a popsicle because the person whose job it is to get you a popsicle thinks you mean soda, and someone whose job it is not to get you a popsicle is wearing scrubs not in any way distinct from the person whose job it is to get you a popsicle, and is offended that the patient asked them to fetch, and brings a shitty attitude instead. Don’t expect me to know the difference fuckhead. It’s 6 years later, and I am still mad at them that I had to get up and get my own popsicle.

        • Greg G.

          I never had a problem with the nurses or doctors when I was in there. One roommate was recovering from a heart attack and asked me what “IV” meant. Since I had one in my arm, I explained that it was short for “intravenous”. He said he meant what was on the paper the nurse gave him. I had a broken leg so I had to get into the wheel chair to roll across the room. The IV was one of the stages of recovery for him. I explained that the letters were Roman numerals. He said, “We had a clock with those kind of numbers. I never could tell what time it was.”

          A friend of mine and his girlfriend snuck a few beers into my room and we drank one each. That roommate told the nurses because he didn’t want to be in a room with a drinker because it was evil. The nurses laughed and asked the doctor to put in my orders that I was allowed to have beer and one nurse bought me a six-pack.

        • I am still mad at them that I had to get up and get my own popsicle.

          I know what to get you for Christmas.

        • Kodie

          A time machine?

        • Susan

          Pain like that I have never felt before.

          That’s what people with kidney stones say and women who’ve gone through childbirth.

          did more than any prayers to Jesus would have done

          When those prayers don’t randomly work and make it onto the christian speaker circuit, they are completely useless.

          So, along come christians who claim that prayer works because Yahwehjesus is suffering right there along with you… only “he” is suffering more because of your sin.

          So, “he” is teaching you to suffer but your suffering will never be enough.

          You might as well be praying to your cat.

          =====

          Edit: Not that cats aren’t nice. Just that praying to them yields equal results as praying to a god.

          Cats are soft and they purr.

          More than any god has been shown to do. .

        • epicurus

          Jesus suffering with me always makes me laugh. Heck he didn’t even suffer much during his 30 years on earth compared to most – disease, death of friends and family members, all the problems of old age. His death was no worse than many others killed by Romans, and he was only on the cross for a few hours, compared to the days of agony most took to die. Then, instead of eternity in hell, He just makes a brief trip down there – couple days, then finished. So how does He really know our pain. How can he really suffer with us.

        • Kodie

          I’m suffering with Jesus, more like it. Everyone is in pain, and no one understands them really. That’s what I see. Anyway, I mean, some people suffer in silence, and possibly do not want to make a big deal, so turn to their imaginary friend because they can’t tell anyone else, would be stigmatized, thought as weak, or draw attention to themselves that they don’t want, but some people want everyone to know this or that pain they have, or whatever they’ve had to endure. I have relatives like this – every crisis or hardship, and I don’t mean to downplay them, is an epic tale, but never ask you about your day, you never get a chance to share your experience, so they are the most suffering. I know people who can’t go on over a hangnail, so to speak. It’s always this or that, and come on, it’s lame sometimes. All I know is I can’t get any sympathy from people when I talk like that. I mean, what is this “get over it” shit, do as I say, not as I do.

          Jesus is not suffering with them, they are suffering so they can be closer to Jesus, and never give up an opportunity to compare themselves.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          Amusingly, you chose two conditions I actually suffer from (heart’s still going strong, I’m happy to say). Plus I get cluster headaches. 200 years ago I’d probably be the village beggar – or more likely, dead.

        • TheNuszAbides

          we have a thing for wrecked knees? i’d better get signed up for that pretty soon.

      • Even the wealthy cities and empires had plenty of poverty, disease and other sufferings. Buddha according to the story started out on his journey when he saw suffering in the city.

      • TheNuszAbides

        yet fear of mishap and mortality, especially with added angles of guilt-trip and shiny rhetorical unfalsifiables, is still apparently compelling enough to vast swathes of not-so-critically-engaged humans. (or they’re just too busy/stressed to actively/visibly disagree.)

        • Kevin R. Cross

          True. But I suspect it’s a case of just not thinking about it much in many cases, maybe most – the idea of using your cognitive faculties on a religious topic just hasn’t really been part of their lives.

    • A variant of this is the idea that things used to be great in the past, with us trying to recreate that idyllic society. Taoism looks back fondly on the reign of the Yellow Emperor, to take one example.

      • eldermusician

        And Drumpf promises to Make America Great Again. More scare tactics, but this time not by a Hal Lidsey type. Same old snake oil, though. g

        • MR

          A friend of mine recently asked–respectfully–someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat why they thought America wasn’t great. They didn’t have a response.

        • Susan

          Make America Great Again

          When was America great?

          They never define great.

          They’re manipulating your “feeliness”.

          Don’t get me wrong. There was always something great going on in Los Estados Unidos.

          But I would ask them to define their terms.

          Unfortunately, that’s not how humans naturally work.

          We’re easily manipulated.

          “America” is no exception.

        • Sample1

          I think it’s, “make America eat again”

          Mike

        • Greg G.

          It seems to be “Make America Grrrr Again.”

        • Susan

          Which takes us back to “Make America eat again.”

        • Greg G.

          Ah, now I understand the carotene complexion.

        • Susan

          make America eat again.”

          I think you just topped Donald Trump for making up imaginary American problems that are the exact opposite of real American problems.

          I didn’t think anyone could do that.

          Nice to see you here. 🙂

        • Carol Lynn

          Oh, I think they had a response but were too savvy – or ashamed – to say outright they wanted a bigoted society again.

        • MR

          Yeah, “savvy” might not be the quite the appropriate word for someone wearing a MAGA hat, but I know what you mean. 😉

        • Carol Lynn

          Cunning in a sly sort of way?

        • Kodie

          That’s some unpatriotic nerve they have. If America isn’t great, get the fuck out, that’s what you should have said. Sorry to get really real here, but these are the same fuckheads who will beat the shit out of you for burning a flag, using your 1st Amendment Right to express displeasure at America, who are currently shitting on a football player for sitting during the National Anthem because to him, America needs improvement in a specific area, for people who don’t want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school or meetings.

          What the fuck isn’t great about America? Yeah, you get the right to wear a hat without knowing why, that’s pretty great. I mean, freedom of expression is great, it’s not not great. Let’s start with the education system first, though. What’s not great is who thinks they are defining “America” and “great” and what values are the greatest, and whether other people who would like to make America great again don’t have the same right to express that view as a hat made in China. As Trump himself said, “I love the poorly educated.”

        • Greg G.

          by a Hal Lidsey type

          Barney Miller?

        • Susan

          Barney Miller?

          Cue theme song.

        • epicurus

          Here’s another version with opening credits, Hal Linden is Barney Miller – dangerously close to Hal Lindsey.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL3Q8GNSKi4

        • Myna A.

          I had such a TV crush on Chano.

      • Michael Neville

        Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.

        Seriously, many cultures have the myth of the long-ago “golden age” where everything was so much better than it is now. I remember when I was in the military the old farts would complain about how lax the young soldiers and sailors are compared to how things were when the farts were young farts. Some years ago I came across the translated diary of a Roman centurion (a senior NCO in modern terms) who had exactly the same complaints about the young soldiers in his unit.

        • Reminds me of the bit where Mr. Filch is taking Harry Potter, Hermione, and others to Hagrid’s house for some sort of punishment, and Filch is reminiscing about the old days with the dungeons and torture:

          It’s just a pity they let the old punishments die out… hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, I’ve got the chains still in my office, keep ’em well oiled in case they’re ever needed…

          http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Argus_Filch

        • eric

          That make be a fake. There is a quote attributed often attributed to Socrates, Plato, or ‘a Roman’ about how the kids of the time were ruder, less well behaved, etc… than the last generation. A typical ‘kids these days’ rant, but thousands of years old. That quote was fake. The actual source of the text was a 1907 dissertation about the ancient world, by Kenneth John Freeman.

          However, with that in mind, its worth pointing out that Freeman was summarizing a whole host of primary source material that he had researched. So the sentiment and gist is accurate – Greeks in BC time did complain about ‘kids these days’ being worse than what they remembered – even if the quote is fake.

          Here is how Freeman described their positions:

          The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise. …

          Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs. They tyrannised over the paidagogoi and schoolmasters…

          Again though, keep in mind that’s not a direct quote of any ancient. It’s an early 20th century researcher’s summary of the way he thinks the ancients thought about their kids, based on his interpretation of some primary texts.

        • I remember reading of a Roman orator (maybe Cato the Elder) lamenting “Oh these times, these morals” or in Latin, “O tempore! O mores!

        • Michael Neville

          O tempore! O mores! was said by Marcus Tullius Cicero. This distinguished Roman politician had an Illinois city named after him, but you have to squint hard to understand how Marcus Tullius becomes East St. Louis.

        • Cicero yes, that makes sense. As for Cicero, Illinois, isn’t it a suburb of Chicago? What do you mean East St. Louis?

        • Michael Neville

          Of course East St. Louis was named after Cicero. It’s only the Carthaginians, Gauls and other anti-Roman forces who would have you believe otherwise. Asterix is probably in charge of this attempt to deny poor Marcus his rightful due.

          The Chicago suburb is so mispronounced compared to how M. Tullius pronounced his name that any relationship is purely coincidental.

        • I’m not sure he’d want to be “honored” that way.

          Well in fairness, no one knew how his name was pronounced until recently, and the news hasn’t filtered down.

        • MR

          Seriously, many cultures have the myth of the long-ago “golden age” where everything was so much better than it is now.

          Ah, the golden age of living in a perpetual cloud of cigarette smoke, sexually harassing women with impunity, telling racy and racist jokes without having to lower your voice and all those wasted man hours after a martini lunch. I mean, who doesn’t want to go back to those times? Well, okay…, but I’m not giving up my internet!
          http://imgc-cn.artprintimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/59/5998/4WSQG00Z/posters/robert-leighton-when-i-was-your-age-things-were-exactly-the-way-they-are-now-new-yorker-cartoon.jpg

    • Rudy R

      Reminds me of the “Make America Great Again” Trump crowd. How exactly? Take away equal rights for women, by pushing them out of the military or forcing them to change jobs because men can’t control their sexual urges? Barring minorities from entering white establishments? Preventing minorities from voting? Pushing the LBGT community back into the closet?

  • busterggi

    I dunno, I’ve lived through at least a half-dozen Christian-predicted apocalypses already, I think if a real one happened I might be immune from my previous exposures.

  • Y. Exeter

    You know, it’s funny how you mention Deut 18:22. Ezekiel 29:9-13 says that Egypt will be made desolate and ruined for 40 years, and Isaiah 19:18 says that five cities in Egypt will “speak the language of Canaan” (i.e., Hebrew). Funny how those haven’t happened.

  • KarlUdy

    Interestingly, not all Christian theology has such a pessimistic view of the trend of society. Some teach that the church’s job is to usher in a new millennium characterised by God’s peaceful rule through spreading the gospel.

    Also, when I think of doomsday scenarios that have been popular in recent times, many of them are secular, eg global warming, overpopulation, peak oil.

    Optimism for progress towards a better world was very popular in the 19th century, whether on a religious on secular basis. However, after two world wars, such optimism has been difficult to reconcile with experience.

    Doomsday prophets often exaggerate, but this is equally true of secular and religious scenarios.

    • Susan

      when I think of doomsday scenarios that have been popular in recent times, many of them are secular, eg global warming, overpopulation, peak oil

      Way to go for listing three things solidly based in massive amounts of evidence and comparing them to “popular doomsday scenarios”.

      this is equally true of secular and religious scenarios

      How is the reality of climate change in any way remotely connected to the completely unsupported claim that Yahwehjesus exists and is coming to get us?

      • KarlUdy

        Bob’s post, as I read it, was talking about “Chicken Little” style warnings as though they were a particularly Christian thing.

        While the evidence for climate change seems strong now, the other two scenarios are not likewise supported (although they too seemed as strongly supported as climate change now is).

        Malthus’ views on overpopulation have been proven wrong and food production compared to population is actually increasing.

        Likewise, with peak oil, the demise of the oil industry is likely to come about as a result of inadequate demand, not inadequate supply.

        So two disproven, the other the doomsday scenario de jour. I think that’s a pretty fair sample.

        • Greg G.

          Malthus proved wrong? About twenty five years ago, I read that at the population growth rate, by the year 3000, the combined weight of the human population would out-weigh the rest of the universe. I did the math myself to see if that could possibly be right and it was. I think Malthus would come into play sometime before that happened unless someone figures out how to make food and water out of the vacuum energy.

        • If I recall, Malthus simply said, “If conditions proceed as they are now, then we will have a problem in the near future.”

          We’ve been able to find a way to change the conditions. Thanks, science.

        • MNb

          If I remember correctly Malthus himself didn’t, but those who took a closer look at his prediction did. And started to promote contraceptives. In the prude 19th Century.

        • KarlUdy

          And population growth always remain constant. Right?

        • Greg G.

          Obviously it doesn’t. Starvation is acting as a brake for parts of the world population growth now.

        • MNb

          No, but that doesn’t prove Malthus wrong – rather the contrary. A substantial part of humanity somehow reached consensus that it should rather try to avoid that scenario and do something about it. Which actually happened. Already in the 19th Century with the New Malthusian League in The Netherlands – who promoted anticonception.
          What again do christians do to avoid armageddon taking place?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Chinese one child-policy springs to mind.

          The one-child policy, a part of the family planning policy, was a population planning policy of China.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_population_planning

        • Susan

          proved wrong

          Quite a claim, isn’t it?

          Where is Karl when it comes to backing up his claims?

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, we can’t go on at 2% annual growth rate, or whatever it is, forever. As you guys know, I farm. And one of the biggest issues we face is rising input prices. We use lot’s of synthetic and mined fertilizers and synthetic pesticides to produce all that food. Those inputs get more expensive, food gets more expensive. Those inputs, become scarce, and food will become scarce. It’s not an endless loop. We can’t mine Potash and Phosphorus forever at the current rates.

        • Michael Neville

          Just another example of the Economic Problem. This is the idea that an economy’s finite resources are insufficient to satisfy all human wants and needs. It assumes that human wants are unlimited, but the means to satisfy human wants are scarce.

        • Bob’s post, as I read it, was talking about “Chicken Little” style warnings as though they were a particularly Christian thing.

          You can’t see the difference? We’re looking for scientific evidence to support a claim, but the Christians don’t even bother.

          Malthus’ views on overpopulation have been proven wrong and food production compared to population is actually increasing.

          There was a problem with feeding the world. Science was the tool to use to understand the problem and to find the solution. How is this at all related to faith-based reasoning?

        • KarlUdy

          Do any popular secular doomsday scenarios exploit the general population’s fear or promote paranoia? If they do, then they are of the same order as Hal Lindsey’s predictions.

        • Greg G.

          The Christians who believe the Armageddon predictions look forward to it with glee. The Christian Dominionists want to set the stage for it, as if to force Jesus’ hand to return.

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t have any time for the “I don’t care because it’s all going to burn in the end” crowd either.

        • You’re saying that stories of catastrophe grounded in science are similar to stories of catastrophe grounded in a particular faith? Yes–they both use words. That’s the biggest similarity that comes to mind for me.

          The big difference, of course, is that only one has science behind it. That’s the key issue in my mind, since that helps us decide if a story is worth believing.

        • KarlUdy

          Yes–they both use words. That’s the biggest similarity that comes to mind for me.

          Wow!

          You can’t see the predictions of doom that don’t eventuate, the exploitation of people’s fears, the stirring of paranoia?

          Can’t see any of that and can only find words in common?

          Maybe you could try taking your eye-patch off?

        • Susan

          You can’t see the predictions of doom that don’t eventuate, the exploitation of people’s fears, the stirring of paranoia?

          You’d have to show that your claims are equal to claims supported by huge amounts of evidence.

          “The stirring or paranoiia” is not an appropriate term when life jacke, seat belts, dental floss and vaccines are advised.

          You can’t support a thing, can you?

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Nope. Exploiting people’s fears is what someone like John Hagee does. I don’t see it with scientific catastrophes.

          If you’re saying that leaders will use people’s fears to get them to do what they want (give money in the case of John Hagee; push for political change in the case of climate change), I see that, but that’s not the interesting part. Yet again, I see that as evidence (for a prediction worth listening to) vs. not.

        • KarlUdy
        • … and the evidence vs. not thing is rebutted how, exactly?

        • Kodie

          If you were paying attention back in the 1990s, they never said Y2K would be the end of the world. Yes, some people did react as though it would be, and yes, their fears were exploited. I remember doing nothing and thinking it would probably sort itself out, if anything occurred, eventually. And would anything have happened? Systems running on computers that couldn’t tell the Day 1/1/00 was the next day after 12/31/99? As Y2K “panic” arose in the late 90s, those systems that would matter were adjusted. People acted like the water would stop flowing and lamps would stop lighting, then we would never recover. You’re calling that a “secular panic” as though it had no religious element at all – it falls into the sub-religious dumbshit like conspiracy theories, the tinfoil hat shit. You can’t tell the difference between conspiracy bullshit and things that actually matter and have dire consequences? Shame on you!

        • Michael Neville

          Well, there is the point that the Y1K problem caused the Dark Ages.

        • Kodie

          It’s probably only tangentially relevant, but I was listening to the radio this morning (and found out they do a half hour of not music on Sunday morning real early), and some guy wrote a book about civilizations…. probably syndicated, did anyone else hear this interview? His claim was civilizations used to be really sophisticated, and then collectively got a “bump on the head” as I think he put it, and had to start all over.

          I can’t remember the guy’s name or the book title or anything. Some number like 10,800 or 12,800 years ago… it was weird like not 11 thousand or 13 thousand. There was a 200 year period where he could not round all the way up somehow. Some event that cut into civilzation at that period causing a halt to progress. Half asleep at 7am. Familiar?

          Anyway, there was a moral to the story, as he was talking about end times (in the scheme that people discuss times ending, not as a religious nut), and the moral of the story was “don’t worry” or something to that effect.

        • Myna A.

          I was thinking Michael Tellinger or Graham Hancock by the description, but both authors are controversial and might not say, “don’t worry,” although they do study ancient civilizations and theories, etc.. Go to the website of the radio station and look on their schedule to find the program in question. If only the program is listed, but no data on the guests, go to the program’s website and see who recent guests have been. They might offer a podcast.

        • Kodie

          Good idea, though the playlist on the station site says they were playing music. It was playing on my #2 station simultaneously and their playlist also says it was music between 7:30 and 8am today. I looked at your guys and think it was probably Graham Hancock. The guy was British and he talked about patterns and stuff.

        • Sounds like Hancock is the one. His web site is here.

          Here’s what it says:

          Graham Hancock became a world famous bestselling author with Fingerprints of the Gods, a book that questioned the mainstream narrative concerning the origins of civilization—among many other things. Now, he’s just published a follow-up, Magicians of the Gods, bringing recent discoveries to his controversial, compelling narrative.

        • Michael Neville

          Graham Hancock became a world famous bestselling author

          I’m always fascinated by the idea of “world famous” people and things I’ve never heard of.

        • Myna A.

          Hancock’s famous in the world of those who like that sort of thing. https://www.amazon.com/Magicians-Gods-Forgotten-Wisdom-Civilization/dp/1250045924

        • They were using an old version of COBOL for their code back in the 900s. Y’know, on those steam-powered computers.

        • Greg G.

          Their machine language was one bit.

        • Michael Neville

          Steam powered computers? They had the old foot-pedal jobs. Steam powered computers didn’t come about until Brunel and Lovelace invented them.

          http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/hardwareandsoftware.gif

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ah, the Bosworth 9020 with wide carriage. Brings back memories.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Haaaha!

        • Greg G.

          Yes, some people did react as though it would be, and yes, their fears were exploited.

          I remember them saying we would be drinking our own urine within a week. I still have about ten gallons of that stashed in the basement.

        • Kodie

          You might as well drink it already.

        • Greg G.

          I saw a Facebook article recently that said urine was used by hide tanners so poor families would save their urine to sell to the tanner, because they were “piss poor”. The really poor didn’t even have “a pot to piss in.”

          The article went on to explain several other sayings that I had never heard the origin of. I got skeptical but didn’t bother to check Snopes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Piss poor has nothing to do with tanning or piss per per se. Not having a pot to piss in on the other hand, does.

          As a section commander in the army we had a well used acronym known as the 7 p’s…”prior planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance”…true that.

          The “piss poor” has nothing to do with wealth in this context, it is a reference to doing a shoddy job.

          Snopes describes it thus…

          The phrase “piss poor” derives from the use of piss as a amplifier of the word poor, resulting in a phrase that variously means “destitute” or “of exceedingly poor workmanship or ability.” (Note that in the latter instance, poor refers to a state of shoddiness rather than denoting financial poverty. A “piss poor” lawyer, for example, is one who does his job badly, not one who fails to outrun his creditors.)

          Full explanation here…

          http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/wagon.asp

          Another here…

          http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pis1.htm

        • MR

          Thanks, IA.

          GG, back off the FB.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I booked three weeks of work and flew to the states to celebrate New Year/Century/Millennium Eve with my American girlfriend years later to be wife.

          A lot of fuss over nothing. From what I remember, it was the holy rolling doomsday brigade that was causing the most of the fuss too.

        • Sastra

          Yes. Another big difference is the way the two sides view the value and effectiveness of human effort — and the value and effectiveness of a Grand Purge. Science appeals to the former in hopes of avoiding the latter; religion dismisses the former in hopes and expectation of the latter.

        • Susan

          any popular secular doomsday scenarios

          What is secularism, Karl Udy?

        • MNb

          Do you understand the difference between fear for meeting grizzly bears in the wilderness when unarmed and fear for the boogeyman putting you in a bag and kidnapping you? If yes then you understand the difference between fear for overpopulation (even if the reasons can be refuted) and fear for HL’s predictions.

        • Kodie

          Are you fucking kidding me. Your side is looking for signs predicted in a legend, predictable perpetual signs like “catastrophic weather” and “war”, my side is looking at evidence and seeing actual trends. When is the end of the world according to your book? Secular doomsday “scenarios” as you like to put it are trying to educate the public to prepare them for change. To educate them to make other secular choices. Not to sell trendy electric cars and solar panels and make all the money. Your side likes to exploit human fear and …. then what? Ignore what’s really going on.

        • RichardSRussell

          Malthus’s views on population have not been proven wrong at all. He underestimated the rate at which food production would be able to keep up with population growth, but surely the depletion of the oceanic fisheries, the extinction of entire edible species like the passenger pigeon, and the alarming degradation of the Oglalla aquifer demonstrate that we can’t keep just adding to the human race indefinitely without eventually overrunning the entire surface and leaving nothing available for crops and herds. Then what will we eat? Soylent Green was science fiction, but it has a strong basis in reality.

          Same deal with peak oil — a matter of time frame, not the basic principle. You can’t conceivably believe that the supply of crude petroleum will last forever, can you? And even if the center of the Earth were nothing but Texas crude (instead of molten iron), it would cost us more energy to get at it than the oil would generate, so it would be economically unfeasible to even try.

          You haven’t disproven anything at all, just lulled yourself into disregarding the actual evidence and then assuming that your false conclusion applies to other, similar areas as well.

        • MNb

          “the other two scenarios are not likewise supported”
          Now you’re downright silly. The global oil supply cannot be anything but limited. Hence there must be an oil peak. The only question is if we have arrived at it already.
          The same for overpopulation, though a bit more complicated. Our Earth is finite and hence eternal growth of human population is impossible. So the question is not if it must stabilize but at which number. That depends amongst other things on the standard of living you require.

        • Technology is putting off some disasters longer than, perhaps, was expected. Fracking has put off peak oil, and in fact there was a huge discovery last week. (Of course, that’s a blow for reigning in climate change.) Feeding an increasing number of humans can be accomplished through GMOs that produce more food for a given parcel of land, while reducing water consumption, and less expensive solar energy (which requires no grid) will address quality of life issues in places where people have lived in poverty for decades or centuries.

          Ironically, the recent oil discovery may make the peak oil problem more likely if it discourages development of solar/wind/safe-nuclear. But the fact is that the population will have to be limited at some point, either by sub-populations becoming more educated and more affluent and as a result producing fewer children, or through horrible die-offs.

        • MR

          Well, on that last note we’re going to re-christen you Mister Sunshine.

          Welcome to the dialog. Nice contribution, thanks.

        • I can’t never decide whether to be optimistic or pessimistic!

        • Susan

          Bob’s post, as I read it

          You and I have a very frustrating history when it comes to your reading of Bob’s posts.

          While the evidence for climate change seems srong now

          It’s been strong for a very long time. In your opinion, when did it get “strong” and what criteria did you use to evaluate its strength?

          Malthus’ views on overpopulation have been proven wrong

          What are his views on overpopulation and when were those views “proven” wrong?

          food production is actually increasing.

          Thank theology for that.

          Likewise, with peak oil

          What do you mean? That oil doesn’t have a peak?

          The demise of the oil industry is likely to come about as a result of inadequate demand

          Not yet. Is that result inevitable and will it come ahead of peak oil?

          (See Easter Island and the Aztec Empire if you just know.)

          If you understand the subject

        • Ignorant Amos

          Malthus’ views on overpopulation have been proven wrong and food production compared to population is actually increasing.

          Overpopulation is about more than having sufficient food production and using that food to feed everyone.

          Rapidly increasing population exacerbates existing problems, such as transnational crime, economic interdependency, climate change, the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and various other pandemics, and such social issues as gender equality, reproductive health, safe motherhood, human rights, emergency situations, and so much more.

          http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/population/

          In 2015, the global population is an estimated 7.3 billion, according to the United Nations, and many of Malthus’s and Ehrlich’s predictions have yet to come true or have been proven false (such as the “increasing” death rate, which has actually decreased).

          Asked whether or not the growing world population will be a major problem, 59% of Americans agreed it will strain the planet’s natural resources, while 82% of U.S.-based members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the same. Just 17% of AAAS scientists and 38% of Americans said population growth won’t be a problem because we will find a way to stretch natural resources.

          http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/08/scientists-more-worried-than-public-about-worlds-growing-population/

          Overpopulation is and will remain a problem for the world.

          Like Susan suggested, if you are going to make such comments, at least do the bare minimum and give the subject a quick Google search. It will save you looking like a silly pants.

          Some people here have been internet warriors for a lot of years now. We have been arguing these subjects at quite some depth. You won’t get to make an off-the-cuff remark and be allowed to let it fly without getting pulled up on your asininity.

      • Nice rebuttal.

    • Sastra

      Interestingly, not all Christian theology has such a pessimistic view of
      the trend of society. Some teach that the church’s job is to usher in a
      new millennium characterised by God’s peaceful rule through spreading
      the gospel.

      But this IS a pessimistic view of the trend of society because the idea is that things are so bad in this natural world due to human sin and wickedness that there needs to be a drastic remedy, a total change of heart taking place from a spiritual source. Whether the wicked are purged or converted isn’t the issue: it’s the view of how things are going right now. So this isn’t a counterexample at all.

      Also, when I think of doomsday scenarios that have been popular in
      recent times, many of them are secular, eg global warming,
      overpopulation, peak oil.

      There’s a huge distinction though between the belief that the world is in danger so we must work to fix that through our own human efforts, by applying our intelligence and better nature — and the belief that the world needs to be destroyed so that we finally realize that our own human efforts are useless, and that there is no intelligence or good to be found in humanity without God.

      With rare exception, scientists and environmentalists do not look forward to a mass destruction of humanity and wholesale pollution of the earth as a necessary first step towards making people better.

    • That’s true, but those with such a view seem to be the exception (apparently the Puritans were one, surprising me). Perhaps it’s a Calvinist idea, because I’ve read the Christian Reconstructionists also have this view. It’s tied in to postmillennialism apparently.

      It’s true religion has no monopoly on doomsday prophecy, but it seems to me they started with religious teaching and then went secular over time.

    • Pofarmer

      “Some teach that the church’s job is to usher in a new millennium
      characterised by God’s peaceful rule through spreading the gospel.”

      Yeah, but that’s never been the result, has it.

  • Myna A.

    Hal Lindsay & Company, thy name is Insanity…tooting Gabriel’s invisible horn over and over and expecting a different tune. The world has always been a savage garden, the predator and the prey, the sun and the hailstorm. It’s kind of the collective story, where there is some beginning, there must be an end, and the more dramatic it is, the better, but the horrifying reality is that the aftermath of any apocalypse, natural or caused by the folly of man, is the silence of heaven and the moaning of survivors.

    Woody Allen: “The story of human beings is composed of murder, only the cosmetics and the decorations change: In 2001 some fanatics killed Americans, and now the Americans kill Iraqis. And when I was a kid, Nazis murdered Jews. Now, Jews and Palestinians are butchering each other. Politics has been volatile for thousands of years, and meaningless, because everything repeats itself.”

    How we might prevent the preventable is the real question, but perhaps there is no political or religious advantage in that.

  • All these doomsday prophets apparently ignore the Bible: “But about that day or hour no man knows, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only.”-Matthew 24: 36 Of course there’s so much money in it. The Bible had something to say about that too.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Ironically, even Isaac Newton was susceptible to apocalyptic thinking.

    • He wrote more about Daniel and The End than about physics. Maybe he was sniffing too much mercury.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Even Abraham Lincoln suffered from mercury poisoning.

        • I didn’t know that. Apparently he took “blue mass” pills, which contained mercury.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_mass

          My favorite nutty quack cure is radioactive water: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radithor

        • Sophia Sadek

          Are you familiar with the radiation exposure experiments performed on cognitively impaired children? It was a pretty grim time in the history of scientific research in the US.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As was the U.S.’s eugenics programme.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

          I have the best possible news for you, namely, the hearty endorsement of the Eugenics Congress by the leading Roman Catholic prelate in America, Archbishop Hayes of the Diocese of New York. … On every side there is evidence that the eugenics propaganda has taken a firm root in this country. For the first time people understand what we are driving at and sympathize with the movement.75

          The religious have a problem weaseling out of this one.

          Following this introduction to the journal, Revd. W. R. Inge DD provided a much more detailed analysis of the ethical aspects of eugenics in an article titled ‘Some Moral Aspects of Eugenics’.15 This was an important religious endorsement for the society. Inge was raised in the high-church tradition, but in his adult life he embraced modernism and turned away from Tractarianism.16 In 1899, Inge delivered the Bampton Lectures, on the subject of ‘Christian Mysticism’, in which he discussed his belief that the church should not focus on claims about the miraculous but upon personal experience of God and prayer.17 In 1907, he was appointed as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, and in 1911 he became dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Inge was a prolific author, and reached a huge audience through his weekly columns in the Evening Standard, which appeared between 1921 and 1946.18 Some of his contributions to periodicals, including work on eugenic ideas, were reprinted in collected volumes.19 Inge would later gain an international reputation as a Christian proponent of eugenics, but he made his support for eugenics clear from a very early stage in the history of the EES.20 Inge’s contribution to the first issue of The Eugenics Review certainly endorsed the potential power of eugenics; he argued that the challenge was not the technical aspect of eugenics, but rather the difficulty of deciding which traits would be most socially advantageous. He provided an amusing illustration of this problem by questioning whether it would be best to breed ‘human mastiffs’ as police, or ‘human greyhounds’ as postmen.21

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001825/

        • Sophia Sadek

          One of the ironies of eugenics is that the most extreme advocate of eugenics in Germany was a Jewish physician who advocated the sterilization of the siblings of people labelled schizophrenic. The Nazis rejected his proposal on the grounds that it was too extreme. He fled Germany and set up shop in the US.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, but, but,,,what about that wee Catholic atheist Hitler?

        • Sophia Sadek

          You forgot to mention that he was Pagan, even though it was Alfred Rosenberg who admired Pagan culture.

      • epeeist

        Maybe he was sniffing too much mercury.

        Advertisement for a museum close to me Mercury inhalation was a common hazard for hatters.

        • Myna A.

          And a hazard famously satirized as well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…mad as a hatter.

  • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

    Did you actually read Pinker’s “Better Angels”? No you did not, and that’s the problem. You either did not, or you are deliberately misrepresenting it. Mind you, I’m not even taking a postion on whether or not Pinker is correct, but his WWII references were the most compelling evidence which he presented that humanity is moving on a parabolic path toward nonviolence, because each successive war has been significantly less bloody over the past 70 years, and there really haven’t been so many wars. Or at least Western society apprears to be set on the right path. We are still going to keep killing our enemies in the Middle East, but instead of brief wars which kill by the thousand, hundreds of thousands and even millions, we will kill surgically with our drones, and as few as is necessary.

    As incidences of violence decline, don’t expect such a fact to be trumpeted by the media! They will milk each gory story for all that it’s worth, making it apparent that crime is on the rise (sensationalism), and in fairness, as crime diminishes, so does our natural sensitization to it. Muggings for drug money are starting to happen again with the increase in drug use, but does nobody remember when they were so common that they were typical fodder for comedians?

    As I see it, we don’t have anything wrong on reducing violence, but to prevent another surge in violent crime it’s imperative that we see closed Planned Parenthood centers re-opened, open new ones to keep up with the population trend, and make sex education compulsory and sensible in all schools, because it was this which drove down violent crime in the 1990’s. It’s the prevention of unwanted births which prevent rejection, poverty, and the crime which so often follows both.

    • Did you actually read Pinker’s “Better Angels”? No you did not, and that’s the problem.

      Hmm—someone’s cranky.

      I’ve read articles where Pinker explains his position and heard him speak.

      because each successive war has been significantly less bloody over the past 70 years, and there really haven’t been so many wars.

      It’s been 70 years since the worst war in human history, so not all the indicators are positive.

      Yes, I understand that it doesn’t look quite so bad when you consider it as a fraction of world population (perhaps the same 2% of world population as the 30 Years War?), but you do have to squint a bit.

      Or at least Western society apprears to be set on the right path.

      I see no reason why some future catastrophe (world war, pandemic, other natural disaster, etc.) couldn’t lead to Western societies where slavery returns, for example.

      making it apparent that crime is on the rise (sensationalism)

      That happened around 1990 in the US where violent crime was decreasing while public concern was increasing.

      as crime diminishes, so does our natural sensitization to it

      I would think the reverse. As crime decreases, the fewer remaining crimes become increasingly horrifying.

      it’s imperative that we see closed Planned Parenthood centers re-opened, open new ones to keep up with the population trend, and make sex education compulsory and sensible in all schools, because it was this which drove down violent crime in the 1990’s.

      Religion thrives in poor social conditions. I see the conservative pushback against improving conditions for society as the religion meme fighting for survival.

      • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

        Hmm—someone’s cranky.

        I’m sorry, but that book has been out for several years now, and some of us here have actually read it.

        It’s been 70 years since the worst war in human history, so not all the indicators are positive.

        That’s arguably yay or nay. It was a war which involved more nations than ever before, so many people died.

        Outright genocide was practiced, that’s true, but that the world reacted to such horrors actually says something.

        There were no POWs 500 years ago, and it wasn’t too much further back that whole peoples were wiped out completely without so much as a thought.

        You are liable to get little agreement in even the US if you propose doing to Muslims in this country what the same country did to it’s Japanese-American population, for no crime other than being Japanese immigrants.

        Then there’s the lynchings of blacks, which were still going on at the close of WWII, Jim Crow laws, “Separate but Equal” education, civil rights laws, and increased sensitivity and greater criminalizing of the crime of rape. I don’t really consider civil rights recognition to be non-sequitor when disrespect for the same has so often lead to violence.

        While this is not the case everywhere (there’s ISIS, and there’s the despicable excuses for justice systems in certain other countries which practice barbaric brutality), death by bullets or bombs is generally less brutal than death by the sword. Nobody is burned at the stake anymore, nor beheaded in Western culture, not for anything. In the 17th Century, Europeans and Americans still made crowd-pleasing entertainment events out of public executions, and this persisted through the 19th Century American West, and possibly beyond that.

        as crime diminishes, so does our natural sensitization to it

        would think the reverse. As crime decreases, the fewer remaining crimes become increasingly horrifying.

        Yes, that is what I meant to say – my bad! It’s this effect which I believe may be causing people to believe crime and war violence has never been so bad, when it really isn’t half as bad as it used to be while many of us were alive in the 70’s. For example, the current generation of children is more safe than any before it, but my nieces aren’t allowed to roam their own neighborhood to socialize and make their own entertainment.

        Religion thrives in poor social conditions. I see the conservative
        pushback against improving conditions for society as the religion meme
        fighting for survival.

        and that’s why I object to religion being treated as if it were benign at worst. It is oppressive at best, while bloody and murderous at worst!

        • Ignorant Amos

          There were no POWs 500 years ago.

          Nonsense.

        • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

          You’re right, if you count enslavement, from which few ever returned.

          Also, forget about Geneva or any such agreements made between nations on your terms as a captured soldier.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You still have your work cut out for you justifying that assertion.

          Ever heard the expression, “the age of chivalry” before?

          Historically, POWs’ were also ransomed for money or one’s own captive soldier’s.

          Apparently Alexander the great was a great believer in the subjugation and assimilation of those he conquered.

          Some of the Shenanigans that went on with POW’s in the last 500 years, including WWII and subsequent conflicts has left a lot to be desired too.

          The Japanese in particular didn’t pay much attention to the GC and a soldier getting caught in Afghanistan was more or less fucked.

          Just sayin’.

        • MNb

          Alexander the Great was also a great believer in genocide.

          http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alexander/alexander11.html

          “One of the mountain tribes, caught Alexander’s war horse Bucephalus during a skirmish. Immediately, the Macedonian king announced that he would come to them and would kill them all.”

          http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alexander/alexander13.html

          “Alexander’s campaign through this area was in fact little short of genocide.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t doubt it for one minute, I just don’t see the relevance.

          There were no POW’s 500 years ago.

          That’s what I took umbrage at as being inaccurate.

          Caveats came later.

          You’re right, if you count enslavement, from which few ever returned.

          I don’t know how that assertion could be defended, but that’s not the point. I’m aware of examples where this is just not the case. I mentioned a couple. Alexanders assimilation was one. That he could also be a vicious murdering bastard too, I will not contend, he no doubt was, how could he not and been great?

        • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

          No, the Japanese did not respect the Geneva Convention, nor any ideas nor persons of the Western culture. They were indeed savage animals.

          Interestingly enough, hot wars between Western nations have not happened since WWII, or no wars at all since Russia has never really been part of the West. We still hate each other a lot, but we aren’t killing each other.

          Now our wars involve terror-supporting animals who use their religion as their excuse for killing. Well, at least our soldiers and civilians aren’t dieing by the millions. If there’s any good news with those ISIS animals, it’s that they have to expend vast resources stopping their worldwide recruits from leaving.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Interestingly enough, hot wars between Western nations have not happened since WWII, or no wars at all since Russia has never really been part of the West.

          I was sent on a little soiree to the South Atlantic in 1982.

          The altercation lasted 2 months, 1 week and 5 days and we lost 255 men killed with 775 wounded. There were just 115 British POW’s…but it was the Argies that got the worst of it and ended up with a bloody nose with 649 killed, 1,657 wounded and 11,313 Argentinian POW’s.

          Does that count as a hot war between two western nations?

        • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

          Argentina may be Western, but do you really consider it to be civilized? Maybe I should have said “Western civilizations“.

          Here’s another thought: would a South American in Asia be considered a Westerner? They seem to be as much of Polynesian culture as European.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Maybe I should have said…

          Might be an idea.

        • Myna A.

          Argentina may be Western, but do you really consider it to be civilized?

          ????

          Argentina is made up mostly of Spanish and Italian immigrants with a blend of indigenous Indian and African peoples. The arts and music are very much influenced by the latter two. Have you ever been to Buenos Aires? Have you never read Jorge Luis Borges? Dozens of famous artists and fabulous writers come from Argentina.

          So many forget about Latin America or neglect its history and its contribution. The novelist, Isabel Allende, is from Chile. The artist, Frida Kahlo, was from Mexico City. The lyricist and novelist, Paulo Coelho, is from Brazil. Of course, these names are a mere few, and yes, some areas of Latin America suck big time, some areas primitive, impoverished, some politically volatile, some as greedy and destructive as any place else. It’s very much a mosaic.

          Buenos Aires—>

        • Myna A.

          Argentina may be Western, but do you really consider it to be civilized?

          Yes, I do.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Argentina

          [Edited down to simply provide a link to the arts and culture of Argentina so as not to get political.]

          Buenos Aires—->

        • Ignorant Amos

          Define civilised? It has been as civilised as a lot of other western civilisations throughout their histories. Isn’t that part of the point we are trying to make?

          How civilised was France in Algeria for example?

          Freedom for Algeria, the largest country in Africa and the Arab world, called time on a savage period of history in which some 1.5 million Algerians died, most in aerial bombing raids and ratissages – jargon used to describe the way in which army units “combed through” cities and towns slaughtering those they came across. Hundreds of thousands more were tortured as an entire nation was made to pay for resisting the might of an overseas “master” to whom it had been subjugated for 132 years.

          https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/05/50-years-algeria-independence-france-denial

          They seem to be as much of Polynesian culture as European.

          Seriously? Now you really are being ridiculous.

          Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Western world, Western society or European civilization is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term is applied to European countries and countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration, colonisation, and influence, such as the continents of the Americas and Australasia, whose current demographic majority is of European ethnicity, and is not restricted to the continent of Europe.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_culture

          Trying to redefine out the many belligerent’s involved in the worlds conflicts and atrocities post WWII is an interesting exercise, but it won’t change the facts.

        • I was sent on a little soiree to the South Atlantic in 1982.

          Have you read the comic “The Boys”? The leader was in the Falklands war. (It’s R-rated, FYI.)

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a8/The-Boys_Volume_One.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hadn’t heard of it, no…I’ll check it out.

        • MNb

          If it does we can reformulate: hot wars between democracies.
          There have been exactly three (1958-1961, 1972-1973 and 1975-1976), between the same nations: Iceland and the UK. Total amount of casualties in all three wars: 1 (one).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod_Wars

          Maybe these two count as well.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Cherbourg_incident
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbot_War

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well technically, by some definitions of hot war anyway, you are correct…but then the doors are opened.

          There is no need to reformulate anything for the Falklands War to be classed as a hot war. Every type of military hardware that was available at the time was employed bar nukes. Some of the fighting was old school, up close and personal, hand to hand, in the trenches with bayonets.

          The statement that there has been no hot wars between western nations since WWII is just not accurate.

          The U.S. invasion of Grenada. The various wars in the Balkans. The Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Warsaw pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. There are other conflicts that won’t meet the criteria, but violent nevertheless.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conflicts_in_Europe

        • MNb

          “The statement that there has been no hot wars between western nations since WWII is just not accurate.”
          That’s why I proposed to reformulate it as “hot wars between democracies’.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s fair enough. But then what constitutes a proper democracy gets called into question.

          I, for example, get no say on who gets to lead this country, nor does anyone else in Northern Ireland. By country, I mean the U.K., so not very democratic.

          Argentina was a military junta at the time of the Falklands War of course. One of the positives of that conflict was the return to democracy. Galtieri invaded the Falklands in order to restore his position and when it failed, the writing was on the wall for his demise. The pasting he got in the Islas Malvinas was the last straw.

          Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public discontent and, finally, the country’s 1982 defeat by the United Kingdom in the Falklands War following Argentina’s unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falkland Islands all combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. Under strong public pressure, the junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.

          The Turkish Greek conflict over Cyprus was somewhat instrumental in returning democracy to Greece from a military junta also.

          But anyway, your reformulation to hot wars between democracies is much better.

        • MNb

          “But then what constitutes a proper democracy gets called into question.”
          I like Karl Popper’s definition: a political system that allows its citizens to replace its authorities without using violence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A nice concept, if not always practical…especially when there is no clear majority in power and/or coalition governments.

        • Michael Neville

          One other result of the Falklands War was that the Argentinian military junta was forced to hold an honest general election, which returned a democratic government to Argentina.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…a just read the notification to this comment, apologies for the repetition.

        • Michael Neville

          Neither the Japanese nor the Soviet Union signed the Geneva Conventions until after WW2.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, I know…that’st heir excuse for atrocities such that it is, those signatories that signed haven’t even got that.

          As a one time member of a NATO force, I’m sure, like me me, you had to undergo mandatory instruction on the GC during training and subsequently periodically.

          Many folk don’t realise that the first treaty goes back to the 19th century. Well befor the first and second world wars.

        • Michael Neville

          If you want to read a good description of the first Hague Convention of 1899 I recommend the section on it in Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower. I recommend the entire book, which discusses several aspects of Edwardian Europe and the US.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jaysus sake…I’ve enough books in my library to do me till am a hundred. I’d be as well to take an internet sabbatical to try and make a bit of a hole.

          Thanks for the recommendation btw.

        • MNb
        • Sloths … why’d it have to be sloths?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy9tOgD2G6s#t=0m19s

        • Odd Jørgensen

          Ever heard the expression, “the age of chivalry” before?

          yup, and it was far from the romantic notions of knights on white steeds we conjure in our minds.
          http://origins.osu.edu/review/knighthood-it-was-not-we-wish-it-were

        • Ignorant Amos

          … it was far from the romantic notions of knights on white steeds we conjure in our minds.

          Nowhere did I suggest it does. Whatever it conjures up in your mind is your business. So you’ve created a bit of a strawman there.

          The give away was when I commented…

          “Historically, POWs’ were also ransomed for money or one’s own captive soldier’s.”

          …which dovetail’s nicely with this bit from your citation…

          If saving an enemy knight from slaughter was deemed financially or politically favorable, the knight could survive, but certainly not for altruistic reasons; the reward was either land, gold, or war booty.

          The point being argued is that POW’s were taken, long in the past, regardless of the underlying motives. Something that I would suggest is impossible to clarify on every occasion btw, but the generalisation that it was never for altruistic reasons I can live with under the circumstance’s of this discussion.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          You only got ransomed back if you were a noble/knight and had money. A regular soldier who got captured would be questioned (tortured) for information, then either enslaved or killed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That has no relevance to the point being made if it was true, but it isn’t, so it is an erroneous non sequitur. Regular soldiers were taken as PoW’s more than 500 years ago and they were not tortured and enslaved or killed as a rule. They were recognised a having had financial worth.

          The term ‘prisoner of war’….prisonnier de guerre / prisonarius de guerra was first used on the prisoners captured at Poitiers 1356 and Agincourt 1415. Prior to this, descriptions range from prisonnier de bonne guerre (prisoner of ‘good’ war) or, more commonly, a combatant would be said to have been pris…par/pour fait de guerre (taken by act of war).

          Read “Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years War: Ransom Culture in the Late Middle Ages”…or not, it is a bit on the expensive side and hardly going to be readily available on the shelves of too many libraries.

          In an important contribution to the subject, Rémy Ambühl explores the wider process of ransoming and examines how it applied to society as a whole during the period of the Hundred Years War. He moves the discussion beyond a consideration of how being captured in battle impacted on the career, life and family of the high nobility and those of royal blood, to explore how the culture of ransoming also influenced the lives of ordinary soldiers. The book is concerned chiefly with the mores and practices of ransoming, and with the experiences of captive and ‘master’, and less consideration is given to the technical and legal aspects of the process – these, however, are not ignored. Chapter one, ‘Law, ransom and the status of the prisoner of war’ reviews some aspects of legislation, namely the ‘law of arms’, royal ordinances, and contract law.

          Although the value placed on the freedom of the elite was subject to wide variation, the ransoms of the lesser soldiery became increasingly standardised over the course of the struggle (pp. 141–5). This was an important development in the whole business of ransoming – its extension to the lower echelons of the military hierarchy. A scale of ransom prices for those below the elite became increasingly systematic. Alongside this process the costs associated with the maintenance of a prisoner (board and lodging) became fixed. Known as les marz, this was usually calculated as worth about a fifth of the ransom.

          The subject is a complex one for sure, and the rules, such as they were and developed over the period in question, were open to abuse. The fact remains that PoW’s were a thing more than 500 years ago.

          Even the Wiki entry on PoW’s cites an example dating to 464 CE and it only takes the one example to refute the assertion.

          During Childeric’s siege and blockade of Paris in 464, the nun Geneviève (later canonised as the city’s patron saint) pleaded with the Frankish king for the welfare of prisoners of war and met with a favourable response. Later, Clovis I liberated captives after Genevieve urged him to do so.

        • that book has been out for several years now, and some of us here have actually read it.

          That TED video has been out for several years now, and some of us here have actually seen it.

          There were no POWs 500 years ago, and it wasn’t too much further back that whole peoples were wiped out completely without so much as a thought.

          Pinker must weave his case out of not-so-great evidence. If the size of the impact of wars from, say, 1000 years ago got smaller and smaller, that would nicely prove his case. Unfortunately, you have the wars of the 20th century about as destructive as those of the 17th century (I’m thinking specifically of WW2 and the Thirty Years War, but I’m sure there are other examples showing a not-decline over the centuries).

          What are we even talking about? Are you peevish simply because I didn’t agree 100% with Pinker’s hypothesis? Seems like a small matter.

          Nobody is burned at the stake anymore, nor beheaded in Western culture, not for anything. In the 17th Century, Europeans and Americans still made crowd-pleasing entertainment events out of public executions, and this persisted through the 19th Century American West, and possibly beyond that.

          Yes, I get it. You’re having a hard time accepting that I already understand all of this. Hence the blog post.

  • E.A. Blair

    A lot of people have predicted the end of the world, and none of them have been right yet.