The End Of The World As We Know It?

The millennium bug could bite VCRs, ICBMs and more. Doomsayers say it's all in God's endgame

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The Y2K alarmists have no such concerns about how their post-millennium credibility will stand. The impulse to find signs of the Second Coming and all its attendant disasters is a durable one. It can thrive in the face of continuing disappointments. All the same, in the probable event that the world does not come undone next year, academics like Richard Landes, director of Boston University's Center for Millennial Studies, expect that alarmists "will be totally discredited. Millennialism will fade rapidly." His group has a theme chosen for the 2002 edition of the International Conference on Millennialism: "Millennial Disappointment."

Good title. Apocalyptic imaginings are fun, but they're wishful thinking. It's more likely that the world will just churn on as it is. Or as R.E.M., another set of millennium prophets, once put it:

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

--Reported by John Cloud and Emily Mitchell/New York, Wendy Cole/Lisbon, Declan McCullagh/Washington, Timothy Roche/Dallas and Richard Woodbury/Taos

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