The end is nigh! At least that’s what many would-be internet prophets and media messiahs would have you believe after a recent spate of mass bird, fish and turtle dove die-offs. Scientists have been quick to point out that these strange occurrences are actually common and have logical explanations. But that hasn’t stopped doomsday, conspiracy theorists from postulating about UFO’s, government conspiracies, and all manner of religious end-of-times scenarios. Jumping to these kinds of conclusions is nothing new, but why are people so quick to cry Armageddon? Is seeing THE END around every corner unique to our culture? Or does it transcend cultural and generational boundaries? Finally, is it harmless morbidity, or something more dangerous?
Michael Shermer, founding publisher, Skeptic magazine; Executive Director of the Skeptics Society; monthly columnist for Scientific American; host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech; and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University.