We all remember the well known fable told by the ancient Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop, about the shepherd boy drafted to keep watch over a flock of sheep, and who, out of boredom, decided it would be great fun to fool the nearby villagers by pretending that a wolf was attacking the sheep. After the villagers rushed out to save the sheep a number of times based upon the boys fabrications they refused to believe him when the wolf actually did show up and began to consume the sheep. The obvious declared moral of the story is generally expressed as “There is no believing a liar, even when he is telling the truth.” However, there is, I submit, a second, unstated moral to the story as well. In spite of the shepherd boys prevarications the wolf was real. And the wolf did, in the end, show up to devour the poor sheep.
Which brings us to the point of this article. For centuries various predictions have been made about the end of the world on certain dates by assorted means and on quite a number of occasions these predictions have been believed by a significant number of people. Obviously the world did not perish in late December of 2012, the most recent date proffered in a long tradition of doomsday predictions that failed to materialize.
There have been countless dozens of other such failed predictions stretching back through the centuries. I think we could say that the batting average of those prognosticators of world destruction has so far been about zero. All of which, however, raises an interesting question. Why are so many people so fearful of and ready to believe in an impending doomsday? I think the answer to that question brings us to the unstated moral of Aesops fable. In spite of all the false alarms the wolf turned out to be very real. And eventually the wolf showed up.
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