Monday, April 07, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Doomsdaysphere

Fourteen members of a Russian doomsday cult have come out from the cave they were hiding in while waiting for the world to end, according to emergency officials in Moscow.

Spokesman Dmitry Yeskin said all are in decent condition. Melting snow caused part of the cave to collapse, and a number of cult members, including four young children, remain inside and could possibly be dead.

Thirty-five people took refuge in the cave in the Penza region, about 650 kilometres southeast of Moscow, in November, threatening to detonate 400 litres of gas canisters if authorities tried to remove them. The cave dwellers, members of a group calling itself the True Russian Orthodox Church, said they were waiting for the end of world, which they believed would come sometime in May.

Attempts by a group of Russian Orthodox monks to coax the group out of the cave in November proved futile. Seven cult members, however, chose to leave the cave three days ago.

The group is led by Pyotr Kuznetsov, a trained engineer from a religious family who declared himself a prophet several years ago, left his family and settled in a village near the cave.

He did not join the group in the cave, and underwent a psychiatric evaluation in November after being charged with setting up a religious organization associated with violence.

The theoretical possibility of the LHC [Large Hadron Collider] creating "mini-black-holes" is one of the Doomsday scenarios causing the current brouhaha, so this notion isn't 100% far-fetched. But here, again, there is a catch: Hawking radiation, which causes a black hole to gradually evaporate over time, proportional to its size. The bigger the black hole, the longer it takes to evaporate, and the smaller the black hole, the less time it takes to evaporate. If the LHC does, indeed, create mini-black holes -- and this is still a matter of hot debate among theorists -- they would be roughly the size of a subatomic particle and would evaporate in fractions of a second -- long before they could pose any risk to the world's continued existence.


Jon: When will it be, this end of which you have spoken?

Omnes: Aye, when will it be - when will it be?

Peter: In about thirty seconds time, according to the ancient pyramidic scrolls... and my Ingersoll watch.

Jon: Shall we compose ourselves, then?

Peter: Good plan, Brother Pithy. Prepare for the End of the World! Fifteen seconds . . .

Alan: Have we got the canned food?

Dudley: Yes.

Peter: Ten seconds . . .

Jon: And the can-opener?

Dudley: Yes.

Peter: Five - four - three - two - one - Zero!

Omnes: (Chanting) Now is the end - Perish The World!

(A pause)

Peter: It was GMT, wasn't it?

Jon: Yes.

Peter: Well, it's not quite the conflagration I'd been banking on. Never mind, lads, same time tomorrow... we must get a winner one day.

Often overlooked in the discussion of emerging security intelligence issues is the challenge of contending with religious movements whose defining characteristic is an adherence to non-traditional spiritual belief systems. While only a small fraction of these groups could be considered Doomsday Religious Movements espousing hostile beliefs and having the potential to be violent, the threat they represent is evinced by recent events involving groups such as the American Branch Davidians, as well as Canada's Order of the Solar Temple. Japan's infamous Aum Shinrykio is a textbook example, where the coupling of apocalyptic beliefs and a charismatic leader fixated on enemies culminated in a nerve-gas attack intended to cause mass casualties in the hope of precipitating a world war and completing its apocalyptic prophecy.


If you ever decide to join a cult, the first thing you should ask about is the quality of their doomsday cave. A poorly constructed cave could kill you, and that would take most of the fun out of doomsday.

You should also look for a cult leader who has some specificity about the exact doomsday date. Otherwise you’re just sitting in a cave for an extra month for no good reason. I’d want the comet to strike earth a minute after I wiped my feet on the cave’s welcome mat. That way the people who got all of my worldly possessions wouldn’t have time to enjoy them. . . .

The big problem with picking a doomsday date is that it so obvious when you are wrong. For most other decisions, you can generally make a case for why your wrongness was really right. For example, you still hear people say Saddam had WMD but he did a good job of hiding them . . . But when the world doesn’t explode on Tuesday, it’s hard to make a case that it did. You have to go with something like "The comet was heading this way, but we prayed it off course. You’re welcome. Give me back my stuff."


Image: "The Ship of Fools" (1490-1500) by Hieronymus Bosch

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