Ridicule or Reason? How Should We Deal With Another Apocalypse?

21/12/2012 11:38 GMT | Updated 19/02/2013 10:12 GMT

In terms of predicting the end of the world humans have a perfect record of failure. I enjoy these arbitrary milestones passing and so by the time you read this I will have kicked back with a few beers and watched a disaster film to enjoy the end of the world.

I've certainly been spoilt recently with around five doomsdays in two years, my favourite being Harold Camping's apocalyptic double fail last year. The one thing you can say with certainly is that if someone says they know when the end of the world is, it isn't going to be then.

The 21st December 2012 brought the Mayan Prophesy, whereby their calendar is said to come to an end and thus doom us all. Had the Mayans had a WHSmith they'd probably have bought their 2012 to 7328 calendar as well as a large bar of discounted Dairy Milk and we wouldn't need to worry.

Unfortunately they went to Paperchase instead and bought some patterned notebooks, they weren't sure what they'd use them for but they seemed nice. This had lead to 500 year wait to find out what we were going to be wiped-out by.

The hot money was on a mysterious planet slamming into us but you would have still got good odds on planetary alignment, a giant black hole, solar flares or geomagnetic reversal. Personally I was backing a giant Elmo doll crushing New Tokyo.

NASA disputed these theories, expect Elmo, but then, according to the doom-mongers, they were trying to cover up the truth. In fact anyone who disagreed was a secret government stooge.

What's the harm in such fanciful notions? In fiction none, apocalyptic visions such as War of the Worlds and Twelve Monkeys are a healthy way to explore our fears and discuss the future.

Unfortunately these predictions are damaging on both a personal and cultural level. It is one thing to entertain the possibility of the end of the world, it's another to sell your house and leave your job anticipating the rapture.

The world of Apocalypticism is unsurprisingly bleak. It's where facts and reason go to die and pseudoscience is king. It doesn't matter how many sensible people try to explain the reality of planet alignments or ancient timekeeping systems, the zombie army of basement dwellers march on.

This is a case of the delusional leading the gullible and everyday it is leaking out into the world causing distress and distrust. Some people are just more vulnerable to such hokum and we all have a responsibility to not mislead them.

There can be two approaches to such panics, reason or ridicule. Neither are particularly effective against those creating these scares but they can act as inoculation for the more susceptible.

In the post-non-apocalypse lets make a fuss about our continued survival. Track down the blogs and videos that said we'd all be dead and remind them, in whichever manner you chose, that they were wrong.

I personally favour calling people out over their predictions and asking for an apology. The videos and blogs should remain online with an additional retraction by the author as a monument to delusion and a warning to others.

Whilst we are right to be concerned about our future, with plenty of dusty of Nuclear Weapons lying about, dwindling resources and a ridiculously expanding population, we should challenge anyone who claims to know the exact date of our demise.