Public service journalism

I’m going to go on record as having said that the world actually will end on Wednesday.

I’m typically no fan at all of hysterically uninformed weekend-science-desk pseudo-journalism but my undergraduate economics training (and a powerful intellectual tool that is) demands that I cast my lot with the doomsayers.

If you accept that:

1 — there is some chance, however infinitesimally small, that the Large Hadron Collider could cause us all to be swallowed by a black hole, or turned into a lump of strange space poo, or whatever, and

2 — that the world’s ending would be the worst possible outcome, unquantifiably bad, in fact literally infinitely bad

…then you’re bound by journalistic ethics and basic human responsibility to prepare your readers for the worst. Because the infinite badness of the apocalypse, even when multiplied by the vanishingly tiny probability that it will actually come to pass, leaves you with an expected outcome that is infinitely bad. In economic terms the expected value of the LHC project is negative infinity. I haven’t figured out what the units are but there’s really no time to worry about that, is there?

The big gaping downside of this prediction is that if I’m right, nobody will be here to congratulate me. So my choices are oblivion or ridicule. It’s the price you pay for being a visionary I suppose.


7 thoughts on “Public service journalism

  1. Seriously, how worried should I be about Wednesday’s apocalypse? Because I was really looking forward to the new episode of Project Runway …

    If we survive, you should write a screenplay based on this event. You know, evil scientists won’t listen to the lone voice of reason among their ranks (I’m picturing Megan Fox) so a rag-tag group of misfits (perhaps led by Vin Diesel?) sets out on what is almost surely a suicide mission to blow up the Large Hadron Collider before a giant black hole destroys the world! We can call it DARK MATTER. I’ll let you work out the plot details. I’ll just take a “story by” credit …

  2. It happens in the next two or three hours, so I suppose we’ll find out when we wake up. IF we wake up.

    I can see where you’re going. My only suggestion to “punch it up” would be to have Megan Fox wear glasses. And then something happens to the glasses, so that she becomes attractive in some way.

  3. UPDATE!
    Well … we’re still here.
    Because I’m no longer sure I want to live in a world where (according to imdb) DARK MATTER was already a 2007 vehicle for Meryl Streep.

  4. Well, get used to it. Apparently lost in the hysteria was the fact that they don’t start actually colliding the particles for another month. Plenty of time to change the name to STRANGE MATTER and think about conservative hairstyles for Megan Fox.

    I’ll note in passing that one of the “possibly related” links that WordPress in its infinite wisdom has automatically generated for this post is one called “things that don’t make sense.” I can’t help but take that a bit personally.

  5. i really thought that when there was a fire in the channel tunnel on thursday that switching on the collider was going to spell doom for at least europe, if not the world (taking general geography out of the equation, naturally). but, as time has told, the only apparent repercussion of the event was the fact that the sci-fi channel chose to air this little gem on friday.

  6. Wednesday: LHC switches on, rips hole in fabric of existence

    Friday: Lesser Baldwin brother appears on Sci-Fi

    Monday: Total global financial collapse

    Can it be merely coincidence?

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