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The Year 2000 Bookshelf Books to help your evaluate the Y2K problems you face.

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Summary and Comments

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1998-05-27 23:20:38


The Original No Big Problem Guy



This 1996 article failed to deal with the topic: the magnitude of the Year 2000 Problem. It was not supported with evidence. The author, for a brief period, was dutifully quoted as a y2k expert by reporters who were hard-pressed to find an alternative opinion. He gave a "no problem" scenario. Today, his opinions seem quaint. What a difference two and a half years make.

He is now forgotten, to the extend that he was ever perceived.

I do not know if he is a reliable source on the technicalities of mainframe programming. I do know that he is not a reliable historian. He set the stage for his y2k analysis by means of a myth: "In medieval Europe, as the year 1000 approached, millennial racketeers persuaded gullible and superstitious people to abandon their homes and farms to welcome the coming period of prevailing virtue or great happiness." He concludes with this:

"After we survive January 1, 2000, the world will not end, nor will it enter 'A period of prevailing virtue or great happiness or perfect government or freedom from familiar ills and imperfections of human existence'. Superstition will move on to other targets. Unfortunately the ignorance on which the superstition feeds will remain, and so will the real problems of software."

Superstition begins with unverifiable myth. So does his article. He offered no evidence for his story of the year 999, no citation from any primary source document. The myth of "the great European panic of 999" is kept alive by people who have not taken university level work in medieval history. (I am an expert, but one of my fields for my M.A. was medieval history.) There was no wild millennial fever in 999. The twelfth and thirteenrth centuries were the great age of millennial speculation and excitement, a point made in Norman Cohn's authoritatiuve book, THE PURSUIT OF THE MILLENNIUM.

When a polemical article begins with erroneous information, it is best to remain skeptical throughout. "Facts, sir. Cite some verifiable facts. If not in a field outside your own, then at least in the area your study deals with."

You can click through to read this piece. Keep asking yourself: "Where are his facts? Where are his footnotes? Where does he deal with any of the difficulties (categories) that North includes on his web site?"


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