What would you do if...

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by designgeek, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. designgeek macrumors 65816

    designgeek

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    #1
    Please forgive the vague title but what I'm asking won't fit.

    What would you do if you had knowledge of something terrible that was going to happen (war, famine, etc.) and you were powerless to stop it? Say for example you're just some lowly American at the turn of the 20th century and you just knew that the first world war was going to happen and there was nothing you could do about it. All the people you see in your day-to-day didn't know and you knew some of them would die. Would you tell them at risk of accused insanity? Would you actually try to do something even though you know it won't work to stop the terrible thing?

    Also, how would you react if some idea widely believed to be a conspiracy theory actually turned out to be true? Would it give you pause and reflect on the incident or would you still blow off other such "heresy"?

    I ask out of curiosity, I've always wanted to pose these questions but didn't quite have the appropriate audience. I figured I'd throw this question out here as there are a few intelligent members of this community, albeit proportionally fewer than when I joined. Recently the forums have been less than helpful to me and I figured I'd go out with a bang. If you choose to answer please do not address my rant as I do not care. I just want to know your response to the hypotheticals that I have proposed. Furthermore, I've never started a PRSI thread before but I wanted to pose this question to those who typically engage in this sort of discussion and not just any two-bit hoodlum.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

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    #2
    You ask if I would do something about it, knowing i was powerless to stop it. How would I know was powerless to stop it? Is that definite? If I definitely couldn't stop it, I see no point in trying. Who would?
     
  3. jeremy h, Nov 25, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013

    jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #3
    From the post I guess you're relatively young. I'm not being patronising but just thinking that perhaps you didn't grow up or were around at the height of the cold war.

    All through my childhood and teens I was convinced that there would be a war at some point. Not just me though. We all just knew it. It was inevitable*. There was a mass fatalism about it. You just tried not think about. It's easy to spot (if you know what you're looking for) in stuff we all still watch, read and listen to from the 70's and 80's. There were bags of post apocalypse films, books and sci-fi etc that came out at that time. (Here in the UK the TV was full of series like Threads, The Triffids, Survivors - you just don't see them anymore in the same way.) Pop music was full of it. I still really love tracks like 'Dancing with tears in my eyes' etc etc Listen carefully to 80's pop music - many of the themes were lamenting the coming war.

    Thing was there was nothing you could do. Most of us thought that the 'solutions' like unilateral disarmament (CND) would actually bring it on faster.

    The best advice was simply not to survive. Be at ground zero with as much champagne as you can drink in about 20 minutes.

    And then ... well ... wow ... amazing ... we're all still here.

    History took a sudden and utterly unexpected sharp U turn.

    Wooo hoo! :)


    * Bear in mind - that if you can see it coming, so can others, even if they don't talk about it. Read the Black Swan by N Talib which discusses this. Also, on this note bear in mind we all compartmentalise. In 200 years we're all going to be dead, yet despite this inevitability we can continue to function on a day to day basis - we don't all just sit in a dark room thinking its all pointless. (And that is a different discussion.)
     
  4. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Use the knowledge for some well timed investment opportunities.
     
  5. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #5
    You've just described life: an endless series of tragedies and suffering that ends for everyone in death. Sometimes the suffering is small and personal. Sometimes it is enormous and involves many lives. But it is inevitable. I know this, and I know I am powerless to stop it.

    So what do you do in the face of this?

    I turned to Buddhism, which directly addresses the issue of suffering. I can't end pain, death and human suffering, but I can face it with peace, wisdom and compassion.
     
  6. tktaylor1 macrumors 6502a

    tktaylor1

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    #6
    This guy gets it. Very crooked, but very smart.
     
  7. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

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    #7
    If there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it. I would sit back with some drinks and snacks and enjoy the show. Those who will die would have already seemed dead to me as soon as I knew what was going to take place, so I wouldn't actually weep as it happens but rather have already done so beforehand.
     
  8. designgeek thread starter macrumors 65816

    designgeek

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    #8

    Thank you for your input, you're right, I wasn't around during the cold war. I was born just as it was ending so I didn't get to experience any of that. What an incredibly difficult time that must have been. Fortunately the bombs were never used and things largely went back to "normal" from what I can tell. One thing I'm wondering in regards to this question is in terms of climate change. No treaty will simply stop the problem and at this rate it will continue to escalate even if we are united against it*. I'll research 80's pop music and culture, this seems like a valuable source of information.



    *I must apologize on behalf of all Americans, some of us can't reed good so we're steering the car off the cliff in a way. Again, very sorry.

    ----------

    Yep, in this situation the evil twin side of me would certainly do this. ;)
     
  9. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #9
    Unfortunately, after the Cold War ended, history made yet another "U turn"...


    A few examples from the timeline of the Doomsday Clock*

    1953: the hands of the Doomsday Clock move to 2 minutes until midnight

    1963: the hands of the Doomsday Clock move to 12 minutes until midnight

    1984: the hands of the Doomsday Clock move to 3 minutes until midnight

    1991: the hands of the Doomsday Clock move to 17 minutes until midnight

    2012: the hands of the Doomsday Clock move to 5 minutes until midnight


    * The clock is symbolic and has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947. The closer to a setting of midnight it gets, the closer it is estimated that a global disaster will occur.
     
  10. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Point taken.

    I do remember a lot of the Doomsday clock stuff. (It was a standing joke at our school that any teacher who worked in the English department had to drive either a Volvo (man) or a 2CV (woman) with an obligatory "Stop the Doomsday Clock - Refuse Cruise" sticker in the back. (We actually thought they were stuck on at the factories ;))

    I'd have thought that in the early eighties we actually went closer than 3 minutes to. Wasn't there that incident where a Russian commander guessed that his early warning system had malfunctioned and refused to start a counterstrike? Can't remember his name.

    Also, there was a massive exercise in West Germany where the entire British army seem to depart for the 'front line' across the channel to test our readiness. I remember it vividly as most of the stuff from Salisbury plain seemed to drive past our house one evening. (And most of them seemed to break down - in true British Army tradition everyone seemed to just sit round drinking tea.). I think it's since come out that the USSR thought it was the build up to the real thing and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher conceded in recent years it was a huge and potentially very fatal mistake for all of us.
     
  11. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #11
    This would be the only way to play it. An invaluable opportunity to write history.
     
  12. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #12
    And, it turns out, it was about 15 actual minutes to midnight in the summer/fall of 1983. I won't say I "knew" a war was about to start, because I knew that I didn't know what would actually happen. But, a lot of people including me were very, very nervous about what we thought might happen. And, as it turned out, we actually were that close.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov
     
  13. localoid, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013

    localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #13
    I don't recall hearing that the Doomsday Clock was ever set up or back because an accident that nearly happened. The clock's time always seemed to reflect the overall trend (for a given year), e.g., whether the world's nuclear players were presently moving toward or away from nuclear conflict/disaster.

    [​IMG]


    That wasn't the only time there's been a close call.

    We've come close to nuclear war due to mistakes, glitches, false alarms, etc. at least 10 times.

     
  14. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #14
    Agreed. But the inflammatory rhetoric and destabilizing military moves made this an especially dangerous time. Here is one book of the era:

    http://www.amazon.com/Enough-Shovels-Reagan-Bush-Nuclear/dp/0394722035

    I wonder if anyone has written a history of 1983. The Pershing II Missile issue, Reagan and Bush's frightening remarks about nuclear war, and the impact that all of these had on the Soviet leadership.

    Agreed. But, the summer of '83 felt different.
     
  15. designgeek thread starter macrumors 65816

    designgeek

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    #15
    I feel like this is the greatest argument for disarmament. That most of the close calls have been accidents. That's terrifying, that some idiot could just accidentally set it all off. And all this despite all the safeguards and steps it takes to launch a missile.


    I would like to thank everyone for their input so far, I've been asking people this hypothetical a lot lately as just sort of a brain teaser but it has yielded lots of interesting information. This thread for example has me studying fatalist themes in 80's popular culture.
     

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