The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has today set its famous doomsday clock to two minutes to midnight, claiming that the world is "closest to catastrophe since 1953, due to dangers of a nuclear holocaust from North Korea's weapons program, U.S. Russian entanglements, South China Sea tensions, and other factors."
It is an absurd assertion, demonstrating that the Bulletin has finally jumped the shark, departing wholesale from any impartial or proportionate analysis of global security risks.
We know this because even during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the Bulletin was still run by sober-minded, independent scientists, the clock did not move from the seven-minutes-to-midnight position and, indeed, was rolled back to twelve-minutes-to-midnight the following year. This inconvenient truth helps to explain why the editors at today's Bulletin, who have twice ratcheted up the doomsday clock during the Trump presidency, feel the need to explain why their two-minutes-to-midnight hysteria is so completely out of line with their predecessors' reasoned calculus.
But the saddest truth of all is that calling the Bulletin out on its nonsense will not prevent sympathetic news organizations from reproducing it. Nor will it mitigate the terrible, sometimes immobilizing anxiety experienced by yet another generation of young people, who have no way of contextualizing such dangerous alarmism.
Little wonder that trust in once-reputable news media are at all-time lows.