18 January 2007

The clock ran out the mouse

The "doomsday clock" promulgated by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a PR stunt of breathtaking simplicity, and longevity. The clock is 60 this year, making it one of the oldest marketing tricks around.

Originally there to warn of impending nuclear Armageddon, the clock is now just one of those portfolio tools that doom mongers throw around. To confirm its status as a PR stunt, look no further than the Royal Society, which now latches on to any piece of paper with a slightly scientific tinge and uses it as an excuse to cook up quotes from its President. The latest such emanation, Martin Rees comment on doomsday clock, contains the usual stuff that is all to easy to agree with but that leaves you asking "so what?"

The answer to that so what, of course, is that an increasingly gullible science media will give mileage to this stuff. Optimists will say that it is a sign that science is now more important, hence the media interest. More cynical souls will say that the Royal Society puts it out because it knows that an uncritical media will publish just about anything thrown at it.

tag: , , ,

Post a Comment