An '11.5 Doomer' looks at Y2K - Round Three : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread



[Attention: you will not understand what's going on in this thread until you've read the previous one, entitled, "An '11.5' Doomer looks at Y2K -Round Two." Go to: link. When you get there read the entire thread, not just my lead post.]

[REPEAT CAVEAT, to all: Once again I write in broad strokes. That is a euphemism for a chronically addicted globalizer, unable to resist sweeping generalizations at any time. And when I globalize I inflict great injury on the truth about humans: each is an individual, with a unique mix of traits, many of which can be completely paradoxical, seemingly mutually exclusive if you will. And because of that when I construct my categories of the personalities involved in the Doomer/Polly Civil War, I'm prone to gross errors in drawing the borders between them. There is great overlap. It's nowhere near as clearcut and arbitrary as I describe. .......... So why do I persist? Hey, "I can quit anytime -- I just don't want to."]

DOOMER CATEGORIES ('He' is used to represent both genders unless otherwise noted.)

Type I. He is a programmer, and was directly involved in Y2K remediation work, across various platforms, in various companies or government agencies. Early on he was a doomer, but as the work progressed, he found the problems in his purview to be solvable within the appropriate time constraints. He checked into his geek network and got confirmation on all sides. He then became a polly, and went back to an uneventful but balanced and enjoyable life. He never posted to a Y2K forum -- seemed superfluous. Or posted once, saw the dust fly, and never posted again.

Type II. He is a programmer, directly involved in Y2k remediation work, but only/mainly on old, legacy mainframes, and/or only in one or two locations or jobs -- he did not migrate from job to job, so his exposure may have been deep, but not broadbased. Depending on his mindset, combined with his personal experience, on the Doomer Scale of 1 to 10 he was anywhere from a 3 to a 10. It was a Bell curve, so the majority were in the 6 range. He was a Heavy Hitter. A very few were below 3, and still fewer were in the 8 to 10 range.

Type III. He is a techie person, was involved in IT technology, but mostly from a hardware, firmware, engineer point-of-view; his programming was centered on process control code. He did some remediation on this arena. He spent time and energy to track down the big picture as best he could, by talking to as many codeheads as he could. He was a 2 to 6, typically a 4. He lurked a lot. At some point in '99 he converted to a 1 to 3.

Type IV. He is a professional, who may or may not have had some low order programming experience, but he centered on management responsibilities, or else he engaged in computer technology only as an enduser of PC's. He has a vivid imagination, is quite intelligent, educated, and tends to mistrust authority whether in government or industry. He distrusts the media. He was a Heavy Hitter on our forum. He was a 3 to 10, typically a 7.

Type V. He is a small business man, or in sales, or in the arts (including the media,) or soft sciences (e.g., counseling, economics.) He essentially is not keyed into heavy 'scientific method' in his daily work, or his approach to reality. Another Heavy Hitter. He was anywhere from a 3 to 10, probably with a broader peak of 5 to 8.

Type VI. She is a housewife, a granny, a school teacher, a librarian, an office worker, or a store clerk. She used a computer for email to her family: kids, grandkids, siblings, parents scattered all over. After much travail she figured out how to navigate the Internet. Nobody understands how she became a Doomer. She just heard about it one day, and said, "Yes, I feel it in my bones --- this is going to be a big problem." Still another Heavy Hitter. Scale: 3 to 5 or 6.

Type VII. He is a devout Christian, believes the Bible's O.T. prophets, and especially John in Revelation, and has been convinced for years before Y2k showed up on the horizon, that The Trials and Tribulation would some day be upon us, eventually bringing the Second coming of Christ. Depending on his doctrinal stance, and the intensity of his Christianity, he might also include The Rapture as part of the coming events. Y2K seemed to fit in very well with his long-standing expectations. He felt our nation has EARNED a devastating Y2K. Big Heavy Hitter. Scale: 5 to 10.

Type VIII. He is a Libertarian. Religion does not enter his equations. However, he has tracked the rotting of our civilization's social values, both public and private, all around him, progressively over decades. He too, felt we would soon 'pay the piper.' Big Heavy Hitter. Scale: 5 to 8.

CAVEAT #2: Types IV thru VIII can heavily overlap.


[This is going to be a wide-ranging, somewhat amorphous look at the doomer personality. It will help our understanding of it if I first mention some documented modern brain research: left and right brain mentation. The left is considered the domicile of logic: linear or rational thinking. The right brain is the home of holistic thinking: intuition, hunches, "Gestalt," pattern recognition, and 'the light bulb turns on' or the 'Ah, hah!' Everyone has both brains (except habitual forum flamers, who may be classified as half wits, or even no-brainers.) In my experience Pollies tend to be stronger on the left and Doomers on the right.

The first section, below, will be even more amorphous, with no crisp, clearcut borders. It goes over similar ground to what appeared in Round One, but a little more systematically (an oxymoron?) I cover strengths and weaknesses both. The sequence is in no special order. Chaos reigns. (What do you expect from a doomer, cream cheese and bagels yet?]


1. We are very concerned with 'the human condition,' with the humanities, with moral values, with ethics, with spiritual values.

2. Logical arguments bore us.

3. We are intrigued by things unseen. The fact that an entity does not have mass nor energy that can be measured by conventional methods, and that does not seem to have a material footprint --- does not deter us in a search for its existence, its validity.

4. Many of us have a significant tendency to paranoia.

5. We tend to rely considerably on feelings, 'intuition,' hunches to give us our read on reality. We tend to downplay logic, especially tight math or statistical logic. That is, we are more right-hemisphere than left-hemisphere oriented.

6. We respond much more enthusiastically to anecdotal rather than statistical evidence.

7. When considering traditional medicine vs alternate medicine we respond more enthusiastically to the latter.

8. Many of us believe in miracles, and that we have witnessed them in our own lives. In other words we believe there are phenomena in this world which do NOT behave according to the traditional laws of chemistry or physics.

9. Many of us describe the primary basis of our religious beliefs to be -- not Certainty, but Faith.

10. But many of us act like the primary basis of our religious beliefs to be -- not Faith, but Certainty.

11. Some claim to know the difference between Conviction and Certainty, and claim to have actually found the latter.

12. A considerable number of us have no problem maintaining our interpretation of The Bible is the Truth, and all others are 'false doctrine.'

13. We find it relatively easy, when presented with a problem where two or more independent variables are varying simultaneously, to seize upon one of those variables and satisfy ourselves that THAT ONE VARIABLE is the cause of the outcome. (E.g., We have a bad headache that has already persisted half a day. We take 2 codeine tablets at the same time we take 3 ibuprofens. We feel distinctly better in 45 minutes. What did the trick? "Why, the codeine obviously." [Alternate, just as flawed, conclusion: "Why, the ibuprofen obviously."])

14. We tend to be suspicious of The Establishment, in every venue it appears. And although we are often Doubters when it comes to The Authorities, mainline viewpoints, and Experts -- we tend to be Believers when oddball, unusual, eccentric ideas present themselves.

15. We are very dissatisfied with the status quo. We look at our society and instead of tallying up the material comforts, we add up the moral, social, and spiritual rot. That makes it less painful to plan for and envision a radical disruption of our affluence. It even makes a significant number of us wish for such a disruption.

16. Among those of us who are Christians there are more who can be characterized as "Repentance" Christians than "Prosperity" Christians.

17. We tend to see the world as coming apart at the seams, disjunctive to say nothing of dysfunctional -- rather than seamless.

18. We find it easy to worry.

19. Many of us CAN'T STAND TO BE HAPPY for long periods. If the period lasts too long we get antsy.

20. We tend to be heavy on the introspection, and lighter on the extroversion.

21. We tend to anticipate, rather than be surprised by -- 'a changing of the guard.'

22. Often we see Joy as meant for others -- ours is to carry a burden.

23. We have a predilection for Forebodings.

24. We tend to be married with dependents -- usually young children, and old parents. (In ages past, the response to that one would be, "Hey, who isn't and doesn't?" Nowadays, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that income-producing adults fit into that category at all. Amazing.) How can that affect our judgment calls? See next item.

25. We tend to place more emphasis on stakes rather than risks when looking into the future.



Paranoia. The year was 1952, and I was in the dissection lab in my 1st year at NYU Med. My mother (a quiet and reserved person,) had gone into surgery at 7AM at Mt. Sinai Hospital for a suspicious breast mass. The surgeon was Dr. Leiter, Chief of Surgery, the best you could get.

It must have been about 10AM when a secretary from the Dean's office walked briskly up to me and said, "Mr. Schenker -- your father, Dr. Schenker, wants you up at Mt. Sinai immediately!"

I hopped a cab and was at 101st Street and Fifth Avenue in no time flat. Raced upstairs to Surgery, and was pointed to Recovery. As I pushed open the doors there was Dad and Dr. Leiter, both wide-eyed and distraught, standing by Mother's bedside, who was shreiking at the top of her lungs, obviously in great distress. As I came into sight, Mother cried out, "Billy, Billy -- they tell me there was nothing wrong -- they didn't find any cancer -- but my breast is gone! Billy, tell me the truth --- do I have cancer?!!"

I couldn't believe my ears. A quick question to the two standing by confirmed she'd had a radical. I took hold of Mother's hand in mine, squeezed it hard, looked her straight in the eyes, and said slowly and deliberately: "Mother -- yes, they found cancer in your breast, and they did a radical mastectomy. How're you doing?"

Within literally a second --- Mother had calmed down to her normal self, as if nothing had happened. (Later Dad told me they had called in a psychiatrist, who was expected momentarily, and they were sure he'd order Mother put into a straightjacket for what was obviously a psychotic break.)

Transit to middle of March, 2000. Moral of the story? Lots of people can take coverups lying down, no problem. Others sit bolt upright. Depends on your personality. There are some who believe our nation's leadership, in both government and industry, have on occasion lied to us . Imagine what such a suspicion can do to the judgment of a doomer who's got a high paranoia titer.

A Rolling Rapture Date. Exchanged considerable emails with a fellow Y2K doomer back in '98. Very bright lady. Topics of discussion ranged wide, but towards July she confided she wasn't THAT worried about Y2K because she expected to be 'Raptured' on July 12th. I asked her, "OK, but what will you do if the date passes and nothing happens?" "Oh, no problem....I'll just shift it to a later date."

Blanket disbelief in anything 'Establishment'. An opinion cherished by many enthusiasts of non-traditional medicine is that the polio vaccine campaign had nothing to do with the subsequent virtual eradication of that disease in America. Their hero was a Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, who claimed that what did the trick instead was simply the long post-WWII public health campaign over a period of 10 years ... which finally made life just too miserable for all those little polio viruses doing their thing in the public swimming pools. What warmed the cockles of his followers' hearts even more was the inference that "the AMA monopoly establishment, along with the pharmaceutical cartels" were behind the plot to sell vaccines and make larger profits thereby.

Now those who've read my extensive postings on colloidal silver know where I stand on that medical establishment, along with the drug companies, and the FDA. However, my criticism is not a blanket indictment of the entire establishment, a generalization that denies a long history of benefits for the American public. For example:

August 1955. I had just rotated into my month's tour of duty on the Contagion Ward of Meadowbrook Gen'l Hospital, that handled all the infectious disease cases for the entire Nassau and Suffolk County of Long Island, population close to 2 million. During most of the year Contagion was an interesting tour.... But during August and September it could mean that, as a doctor in close contact treating the annual influx of hundreds of polio cases, before the month was out -- I could end up dead myself . Every August one to several of the house staff would be stricken. The prior summer one of the most likable and promising young interns contracted bulbar polio and was dead in days. As usual the iron lungs were lined up out in the hallway, 19 of them, in preparation for the onslaught.

One more pertinent detail. That Spring, for the first time in history, all the school kids in the big cities and suburbs received the new Salk vaccine series to prevent polio.

So what happened? We never used a single iron lung the entire summer. There were THREE mild cases which amounted to nothing more than some cold symptoms.

The point of this anecdote? Over the last 3 years I've had several doomer posters flaming me for 'whitewashing the AMA,' over the use of polio vaccine in the mid-'50s.

More on alternative medicine. Testimonies to the effectiveness of alternate medicine modalities abound in forum posts. Over the past 20 years I've looked into probably 1000-2000 of them. My findings are that about one in 400 actually work as touted. (But these work great by the way!) What about the rest? The hyperbolic claims and praise continue.

Whose God are we talking about?. 1983. I had built up an active country doctor practice in a rented office building. Another doc, who was the lay leader in one of the town's churches, wanted to come into town, but had no office space. One afternoon at 3PM I got a call from him saying, "I just bought your building. You have three hours to clear out of the premises." That would mean of course I'd have to leave all my office equipment, all my patient records, and have no time to give my patients notice, let alone find a replacement office any time soon. His object of course in using the weapon of precipitous surprise, was to be able to take over ALL my assets in fell swoop.

I immediately called our hospital's Board of Directors. They called an emergency meeting that night, with Dr. X and me as invited principals. When asked on what basis he could demand such an action here was his answer, immediate and without blinking an eye:

"Dr. Schenker doesn't believe in the same God of the Bible I do, therefore I have every right to eject him from my premises."

Analysis: essentially Dr. X could have chosen several more commonplace, and possibly believable excuses. But to him the reason he gave was clearly righteous, clearly beyond questioning.

(Yes, the Board told him to cool it, and gave me 6 months to relocate.)


But first, I'd like to set the stage by quoting an email I received shortly after posting 'Round One.' If you'll recollect I sort of bent over backward in admitting painful details of the bad set of predictions I made prior to rollover. It seemed generally accepted that my tone was quite conciliatory, and several well known pollies responded in kind. Below is an exception, but a significant one, in response to a friendly request I made for feedback. The name is omitted because the issue raised is generic, and I don't want us to lose sight of it because of personalities, who will fade into the background with time. The issue on the other hand needs to see the light of day. There were three short sentences in it; the first one is the cornerstone:

"Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about."

The respondent had no idea what I was talking about -- throughout an eight-page post, even when I was 'peeling the layers of the onion.' Importantly, I believe he was sincere in his statement above.

Now let's roll out the positives.

Of "O" rings and Upper Management. Doomers suspicious of lieing in high places, take little comfort upon reading Richard Feynman's exposi of what went wrong with the Challenger blastoff preparations several years ago. TPTB, upper echelon NASA management, gave the green light for the mission; many of the engineers working 'in the trenches' flashed red lights. But somebody must have been colorblind. Result? Do you have 100% trust in the NASA higher ups?

"Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about."

In WWII you took your life in your hands driving a 'Willys' jeep. 1945. I was driving a jeep over 40mph along a loose gravel covered turtle top artillery road when the sloppy Willys steering let me skid to near the 3-foot deep drainage ditch on the right before the 'correction took.' So I overcorrected in the swing towards the left ditch. That resulted in another overswing to the right. The jeep hit the right ditch, and I was catapulted out the driver's side, taking the door with me. Then the most amazing thing happened.

I went sailing through the air maybe 10 to 15 feet till I landed upright, feet first, at 40mph, on to the middle of the gravel road. I kept sliding, upright, down the road --- starting off at about 40mph and gradually slowing down --- while watching the jeep somersaulting in the air and then landing 50 feet further down the road, looking like a compressed accordion, with a wisp of white smoke rising from the ruins. I kept sliding, upright, till I finally came to a stop .... trembling, and laughing hysterically, because I was alive, with just a lip laceration where a lower tooth had cut through.

I 'rode ambulance' for a year (in the old days when the intern sat in the front seat while the often reckless 'bus' driver careened through city streets and highway curves; they changed that policy several years later -- lost too many interns;) our hospital responded to all the road accidents in Nassau County, including the freeway system; I've seen them all -- before the days of seatbelts; and I never saw anything near what happened to me that day in '45. It defies explanation. At the time I called it luck. Many decades later I saw it differently.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Paranormal experiments in NYC 1952. A friend asked me if I would help him out with some experiments he was doing for Professor Rhine of Duke University, who was trying to validate scientifically the phenomenon of what we'd now call 'remote viewing.' "Of course." Sounded interesting. We placed a subject in one room, had him/her draw pictures, and asked another subject in an adjoining room, out of direct vision, to draw the same picture. There was a high percentage of hits, if I recollect something like 30-50%. So we changed the experiment: the Sender was in Manhatten, and the Receiver was sent to a location in Brooklyn (I can think of no worse fate.) Same results. On repeated occasions. Saw them. Checked them. Made sure there was no 'hanky panky.'

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

A New Age experience. 1970. Esalen Institute overlooking the coast of central California, after a workshop learning how to use and interpret the Tarot card deck. At the time I was HEAVY into New Age stuff. Very heady. Ended the workshop higher than a kite (and not smoking anything either.) As an experiment I sat down with my partner from the workshop and set up a challenge. I would focus my 'energies' and then would lay down 4 cards from a thoroughly mixed deck that would symbolically signal the state of my consciousness. Then my partner would respond in like manner.

I laid down four cards -- they were, in sequence, the 'Tarot' equivalent of Ace, King, Queen, Jack in the same suit. Then my partner laid down four cards -- they were , in sequence, the equivalent of King, Queen, Jack, 10 in the same, but another, suit.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

She's uncanny! I've watched both my boys grow up, with two different mothers, and observed the same phenomenon in both cases. Time and time again, when the boy would be out of sight for a time, suddenly his mother would stop what she was doing and head directly for where the boy was, getting there just in time to prevent mischief, an accident, or once in a great while a small catastrophe. You gals got stories to match?


Foreboding. I saved this for last because it's my weakest argument. Why? Because the anecdote is NOT out of my own personal database: first-hand experience. I can't give you one of my own, whose outcome has already been validated. So as a second best I'm going to tell you a story from the bio of Jesse livermore, the legendary stock trader of the early 1900's.

Seems in early April, 1906, Jesse started dumping all his western railroad stock that had already made him millions on millions, as the West exploded under the stimulus of the burgeoning rail network west of the Mississippi. The market of course eagerly gobbled up whatever he sold. However, his friends were worried -- had he gone out of his mind? But the only answer he gave them during those days of selling, selling, selling was --- "I don't know why I'm doing this. I just feel I have to."

On April 6th, Jesse and the rest of the world found out why he 'had to:' San Francisco was shaken to the ground by an earthquake that demolished it, along with most of the commerce being carried by the western railroads, and along with that most of their revenue.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.



As this Third and Final Round Three draws to a close what are the prospects for Pollies and Doomers to meet on common ground? Is there hope that those more comfortable hanging out in their Left brain can find lasting friendships with those who lurk more in their Right brain? Being a doomer myself my reflex answer is "Nope." Or more accurately, "No way, Josi!" But the polly in me says "Well, let's take a look anyway."

I DO have a model that just might fit the bill. It's what I've discovered about myself, mostly in the last few years or so, while posting and prepping. (Could that be the real reason Y2K came into my life?) Here's how I typically do my problem solving:

1. I scratch my head and try on for size all kinds of LOGICAL solutions. I make pitiful progress.

2. Time passes. At some point, always by surprise, a light bulb turns on -- I get an 'Ah, hah!'

3. I rush back to the drawing board and feverishly cobble together some of the solution, using LOGIC.

4. I make modest progress.

5. Pretty soon I'm up against a brick wall, again: logic FAILS.

6. Time passes. Surprise! -- another light bulb.

7. I make additional modest progress, using logic.


9. I stand up and take a bow.


Here's the skeleton outline of an age-old tale from the mid-East, retold by a renowned storyteller whose origins were in Afghanistan. (I posted it several years ago on the old GN forum. Nary a response. I'll give it one more try.)

The Magic Horse

Once upon a time there was a king who had two sons. Omar was a bright, achieving, and always hardworking man of ambition. Sharif was a dreamer, not really focussed on anything in particular, but also, in his own way, not stupid.

One day, Omar presented to the king a cleverly designed and fabricated mechanical horse. Amazingly it imitated to the smallest detail the movements of a real horse, to a degree that made the machine almost appear alive. The king and everyone in his court "Oohed" and "Aahed." "What a talent" they exclaimed. And in recognition of his accomplishment the King bestowed on his well-pleased son a chest filled with precious jewels and gold.

Meanwhile Sharif was stretched out on a grass covered hilltop, admiring the birds, the butterflies, and the clouds puffing by. Suddenly one of the birds, a talking bird, dropped down beside him and said, "Sharif, I noticed you lying here with nothing special on your mind, so I thought you'd be just the person who I might make this offer to." Sharif responded, "Well, good afternoon, butterfly. And what might you have in mind?"

"How would you like to presented with a Magic Horse? You have nothing more to do than mount it, and you will be transported to far distant lands, and experience the most exciting adventures!" Now that appealed to Sharif, and he immediately accepted the offer. ------------ Lo! A beautiful black stallion dropped down out of nowhere right in front of him. Sharif soforth mounted the steed and away the both of them flew far into the blue, till they were no longer even a speck in the sky. [Editorial comment: you didn't know that others besides pigs can fly, did you?]

Well, to make a long story short (to save bandwidth) the horse and its rider were confronted with a series of wild, death-dealing events, including unimaginable fire-snorting monsters, dark deep caverns, treacherous maelstroms -- till at last they came upon a fairy castle, won entry to it by brave battle, and there inside met a most beautiful princess. Sharif immediately offered his hand in marriage, she accepted, they both rode back on the Magic Horse, and upon arriving at the king's court, after describing his adventures, Sharif so impressed his father that the king abdicated his throne to the young couple and granted them his entire kingdom. And they lived happily ever after.


Well, I hope I made my final point crystal clear.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about.

----- Bill, the Sheik of AYrab

P.S. I really would like to leave Y2k behind now (unless a lot more planes start crashing, the oil industry blows up, or the banking industy implodes by this summer.)

What's worthwhile to talk about instead? Well, I'd like to pursue the kind of ideas Flint so well expressed in the 'Marching Morons' thread. Also where Tom Friedman's 'The Lexus and The Olive Tree' intersects that discussion. Maybe I'll have to do a Round Four and label it "Beyond Y2K and other Pipedreams." B.

-- William J. Schenker, MD (, March 08, 2000


bold off

Well, Bill....another interesting essay, and interesting life stories.

I won't comment on the accuracy of your categorizations. I've seen many of the characteristics you've described in the Y2k pessimists, but I think they should speak on this one.

I CAN speak to mothers appearing to know when their kids are getting into trouble. We like kids to think we have eyes in the back of our heads and ears that hear from blocks away their every whisper, but I'd be more inclined to suggest that if we hear SILENCE and see NO ONE for a given period, we KNOW they're up to no good. If they are proud of what they're doing, they always run back and tell us.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 08, 2000.

I've fixed Dr. Schenker's HTML as per his request, and deleted subsequent posts attempting to fix it.

-- Old TB2K forum regular (, March 08, 2000.


You have saved this perfectionist from six hours of nightmares -- thinking how ugly that thread looked after the HTML tags went berserk.

What do I owe you in return? Need any spare body parts? I have a colleague in S.A. who can get them for you wholesale. Again, 3 Gigabytes of thanks!!


Good point. I should have said "Mothers have 2 talents: 1) they know what 'long silences' mean, when there's a little kid around, and 2) they also can intercede when that clue is missing. I have seen both phenomena.


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, March 08, 2000.

Ah shucks Anita, you gave our well guarded secret away!

Dr. Schenker. One word: fascinating. I can't comment at this time as I've just finished reading it and it's late, must go to bed. Didn't want you to go all night without a response thinking nobody else but Anita read it ;-)

Your articles are a keeper, I'm printing them. Looking forward to Number 4! Whatever the topic, just write it. Will be interesting.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 09, 2000.

Very good! And thank you. I am home sick, bored, and looking for something to read. On foreboding-- everything one has read, heard or experienced in life is recorded in the brain. Foreboding may be unconscious knowledge - like when I leave for work "feeling" like I forgot something and realize on the way that I "forgot" my bottled water.

-- jeileen (, March 09, 2000.

I suppose I'm a Type IV (but with more programming experience than your profile) with some Type VII (though I didn't feel our nation had "earned" a Y2K disaster) thrown in.

It's hard for me to quantify how much "tacit knowledge" (cf Polanyi, corresponding somewhat to your intuitional feelings above) plays a role in my judgements about everything/anything. Course, if it could be quantified, I suppose it wouldn't be tacit ....

In general, I am somewhat suspicious of this in myself, since it is a very delicate source of "knowledge" and frequently (though not randomly, in my experience) in error.

I still feel it is too early (at least for me) to evaluate Y2K impacts, let alone what they suggest about the previous two years - looking forward to that as the year moves into summer and beyond. But thanks for your essays on this subject.

-- BigDog (, March 09, 2000.

Dr. Bill, sorry I have no idea what you are talking about, about "sorry I have no idea what you are talking about".

As for the types mentioned above, I'd say I'm in the IV(with some programming experience) and VIII categories. I went back and forth between 3 and 8 for 2 years, depending on the news. In December I went to 8-10! And neurotic, no doubt about it. My fear fed on itself definitely; the more worried I became, the more I logged on TB2K and the more it fed my fears. The atmosphere in the forum was frenzied and neurotic too (but my perception could have been clouded by my own state of mind.)

I've been doing some intense introspection since January, and Doc, your series are very helpful to me. I'm an RN and an armchair psycologist. My left brain is constantly struggling to rein-in my right brain...lost the battle in December and LB let RB loose.

I like very much and admire your humorous and self-divulging writing style also. Very therapeutic ;-)

-- Chris (!@#$, March 09, 2000.


In general, I am somewhat suspicious of this [intuition] in myself, since it is a very delicate source of "knowledge" and frequently (though not randomly, in my experience) in error.

Yep. I intended to make that point large instead of lightly, but forgot -- ordinarily I never forget anything. :-)

The problem with using intuition (right brain) as a problem-solving tool for most of us moderns is that our lifestyles no longer require that faculty for survival, at least very often. In a world where we've reaped so much of our comforts from 'mechanical horses,' so left brain based -- we're 'out of the habit' pretty much, at least regards what we categorize as 'work' issues. (Maybe that partly explains our culture's heated love affair with products heavily intuitive in origin, the Arts: music playing in the background all the time is my favorite.)

So we're no longer very skilled in intuition's requirements -- it becomes at best a quirky, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't affair. It becomes hard to recognize. ESPECIALLY, it becomes very easy to mistake blatant bias, based on emotion, for the real article! As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to suspect that has been one of the keystone factors in we doomers missing the boat on K2K.

Yes, I still have my provisos in place -- watching out of the corner of my eye for future crashing airplanes, bulging oil prices, and funny financial flukes. But I don't yet see a concrete progressive pattern developing. So for now I prefer to look hard inside of myself for the dynamics of Y2K's outcome rather than depend on provisos.

Tnx for the appraisal,


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, March 09, 2000.

"I still feel it is too early (at least for me) to evaluate Y2K impacts, let alone what they suggest about the previous two years - looking forward to that as the year moves into summer and beyond."

BigDog, I feel it's too early to "evaluate Y2K impacts", as the results aren't all in yet, some predictions haven't come to pass either. But I disagree on "let alone what they suggest about the previous two years".

To me, it appears we've not even had this famous BITR. No 3-day storm either. If I had to give a number on that scale, from what I've read in the news and what I see all around me, I'd say we're in 0.5 to 1, only because of stock market and oil/gas prices. But this is comparing to last year. Comparing to last decade, I'd say we're in MINUS 1.

I'm giving my pessimistic side a rest. Time for me to start enjoying life again.

-- Chris (!@#$, March 09, 2000.

Correction, first sentence should read:

I too feel it's too early to "evaluate Y2K impacts"

-- Chris (!@#$, March 09, 2000.

Bill, thanks for your thoughtful essays.

I would be in the category of y2k pessimist, but I do not fit any of the 8 categories you laid out. There is a HUGE (did I say HUGE?) factor which you left out. And that is what some of us believe we had at stake. For many of us, it was a function of where we lived.

I believe there is a category of pollies, from the southern states, that will never be able to comprehend what those of us in the north were up against. (They'll say they can, but they'll be wrong.)

As an example, I will present to you Flint, whose later essays last year focused on the argument that it was no longer the stakes but the odds. Or Decker of the more temperate mid Atlantic, who admittedly and callously wrote off apartment dwellers or the very elderly in his "smart living" scenarios of muddling through.

For those of us in the life-threatening north or other life-threatening circumstances? The Flints and the Deckers are Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! For some of us it was ALWAYS more an issue of what was at stake. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with either religion or a distrust of government or other authorities. If I did not have very elderly parents, if I did not live in the snowbelt, y2k would have had a very different impact on me last year.

-- Brooks (, March 09, 2000.


You make a good point. I did mention the issue of stakes vs risks but only as the last in a list of 25 doomer personality "traits." Your point is that is was not a trait so much as a circumstance. I should have addressed it as such. Tnx,


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, March 09, 2000.

Yes, Bill. If I might clarify, Flint is from the deep south, and I have always wondered whether or how much that colored his perception of y2k. We have seen a number of y2k doomers from the south and y2k optimists from the north, but I would be curious as to how their counterparts (northern doomers or southern pollies) came to be. To what extent could the southern pollies afford to enjoy y2k as merely a philosophical debate or minor inconvenience? We have also heard from pollies who assumed y2k would be a BITR because they were only concerned about its impact on them. As one for whom the notion of acceptable collateral damage was not acceptable, I'm still waiting to see the extent of any long term economic impacts. I'm just not obsessed with y2k anymore.

-- Brooks (, March 09, 2000.


How's this for 'demographic ironies?' -----

1) Flint is from the 'deep south' but he's as Yankee as you can get (fast talking, standard American accent.) Lives in Huntsville, a superhigh tech enclave (reminding of my years hanging out in San Jose, Santa Clara, and Palo Alto), surrounded by 'po folks.'

2) I was a Yankee who in '97 found myself living in Utah, and then Wyoming. Realized it was the wrong place to be if Y2K was going to fullfill my '11.5' scenario. In July '98 moved to Tennessee, then in Jan '99 to Alabama, in the Heart of Redneckland --- for the very reasons you describe: thought the stakes (but in my case, ALSO the risks) were way too high living north of the Mason/Dixie line.

Here's some more irony. Altho born and bred in NYC, when I moved to the South I found my 'natural place' --- love the people, love the culture. People look out for each other more down here. Winters are almost non-existent; three-crop growing season, lots of firewood, lots of water. You're right -- on the basis that Y2K would be a biggie, you had a LOT more at stake.

I do miss my snowy mountain peaks, tho.


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, March 09, 2000.


As categories go, I'd fit type III pretty well except for the lurking part [grin]. I consider your list of doomer predilictions an accurate personality inventory. Inherent in them I choose to find more than a discomfort with a left-brained orientation, but rather an actively hostile posture. I'm not sure I can distinguish conviction from certainty, but neither lends itself to doubt or the exploration of alternative hypotheses.

The gestalt offers me some excellent clues into the way your target population reaches conclusions -- it IS an "Ah Ha!" process, out of nowhere, intuitive, not based on the painful effort of analysis and thus not open to it. I'm not suprised you have that Jonathan Swift quote so handy! Some good insight into why those who "get it" so often tend to get it wrong. But certainty and conviction they've got!

Many times over the last couple of years, I've stopped and puzzled at the sheer blind antagonism directed at me. I recognized that my opinion and viewpoint were not widely shared on this forum, but somehow I always expected more people to try to explain *why* I was wrong, to develop a sequential chain of argument. Instead, I mostly got called names and had my motives questioned (come to think of it, my motives are *still* being questioned!)

My hazy conclusion was that the most determined doomers simply were not capable of mature thought -- they certainly didn't *show* any. I felt that the weaker the evidence for something, the more unshakeable the conviction (recently extended reductio ad absurdum by "Hawk", who claims to have reached 100% certainty on the very *grounds* that there is NO evidence!)

In light of what you write, this trend becomes predictable rather than surprising. As the volume of disparate information increases, the number of variables increases, and the right-brained person falls increasingly ill with "toxic option syndrome". The urge to oversimplify conspires with lack of substantive support for the Ah Ha conviction, resulting in the ossification of a position.

So such a person faced with an entirely reasonable, but contrary, interpretation of anything faces a dilemma. He knows he's right, he doesn't know how or why he's right, he can't explain quite how he arrived at the right answer, he is poorly equipped to counter reasonable disagreement, he's suspicious and distrustful of ambiguity. So he attacks.

Yes, I know this brief picture is simple, and people are complex. As a result, like you, I must speak broadly, describing a generally characteristic tendency and NOT any specific individual. I very much believe you're on the right track here.


You overlook the preparations I made, which would have (among other things) kept me toasty warm without power all winter on the Arctic Circle. When I place a bet, I like to know more than the very maximum I stand to lose (although of course I need to know that too). I also want to know what my chances are, based on my best understanding of the rules of the game. I fail to see why it's "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!" to *study and understand*, simply on the grounds that it's possible to lose. I already covered that bet.

I never said not to prepare. But I believe "know your enemy" means a LOT more than simply "fear your enemy". Sometimes, you even learn that there's no enemy there after all. Fear and learning don't mix.

-- Flint (, March 09, 2000.

Flint, I realized you were prepared. My point was that, for whatever reason, you decided there were no longer any stakes worth worrying about since the odds were so far in favor of nothing much happening. My point is that I don't think you were in the position to understand that for many of us there absolutely were stakes that justified our preparations, regardless of what we perceived the odds as being.

-- Brooks (, March 10, 2000.

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