Monday, August 8, 2011

Is the World End Near? Ummm, No.

Sorry for those who are waiting, but all indications are the world is not coming to an end.

Usually you expect me to be writing on an estate planning topic of some kind. Something about estate taxes and the like. Not this time though. Reports in the media over the weekend got me thinking resulting in this missive.

After distilling several dozen reports from the numerous medial outlets and supposed experts that I follow, I expected to wake up this morning to mass destruction and devastation. What a surprise when the day dawned bright and sunny here in Colorado with nary a destruction in sight. Oh well.

I am always reminded of the lessons of the one of the most important books of the last 100 years, The Black Swan. I recommend this book to everyone for many reasons. Today that reason is the absolute folly of attempting to understand what is happening in our world from reading the news (rare today I know) or watching it on TV or your computer. That exercise is simply unsuccessful.

You see, the media exists in it's own world of self hypnosis or more accurately, self-induced hysteria and insanity. According to the media (all the media) "if it doesn't bleed, it doesn't lead". The only reason I actually know what that means is because a reporter told me. It means, what the media wants to report on is: death, destruction, and mayhem. They WANT blood and in our world, if you look for that, you'll find some.

So, according to the media, (especially MSNBC who expects the world to end hourly)what is going on out in the world is unrelenting war, famine, destruction, chaos and mayhem. Might as well pack it all in right now if we are to believe them. But it's not true, not any bit of it. So sorry you Mayan world destructionists and other looney rapture and alien watchers, none of that is gonna happen.

The end of the world (or days if you will) has been predicted, prophesied and expected for thousands of years. Recently, we had two rapture non-happenings, preceded by: total world meltdown, total world freezeups, and the year 2000, all of which turned out to be much hysteria about nothing. In just a few months, according to some deluded and long dead Mayans, supported by a ridiculously bad movie from Hollywood, we will get 2012, another end of the world non-happening.

"How can you be so confident Bernie?" Well, it's easier for me to say than you might think. For me it's simple arithmetic. There have been approximately 13 million end of the world predictions in the last thousand years. Their batting average? A big fat 0. So, I'm not really going out on the limb at all when I say, it's just not happening. The odds are way in my favor.

So, how to avoid all this talk of doomsday, armageddon and just sad stuff? Don't watch or take seriously what you see on TV or read daily in the news. Here's the truth: just because something bad happens somewhere (and there's no shortage of that) there is no equation that says that it means anything. "Gasp!!" I hear you now. "It doesn't mean anything? Ridiculous." Maybe so, but if it did, you wouldn't be here now to read this article now would you?

That is the point of The Black Swan. In our effort to find meaning, we personalize things that have nothing to do with us so we can pretend that they do. Well, they don't. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't care and we shouldn't try to make our world better, we absolutely should. But let's not get swept up in the media's attempts to hypnotize us into thinking that the end is near. If we should have learned one thing as a species on this planet, it's that we just keep keeping on, especially here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let's not ever forget that is our birthright, and our gift to the rest of humanity.

So, let's knock off the talk of the end and focus more on the beginning. And let's get those knuckleheads in Washington to actually get something done. But more on politicians another time.

Let me know what you think. Is the media really just the bearers of bad news? I look forward to your comments.

Bernie Greenberg

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