Prospects of Doom

  • John Gribbin


The possibility of all-out war — the real prospect of doom hanging over society — is something that is largely ignored in futures studies and, indeed, in polite conversation. This seems to be part of the pattern of human nature, to shy away from the most horrible problems in the hope that if we ignore them they might go away. The attitude is typified by the problems experienced by author Bruce Sibley in trying to find a publisher in Britain for a book which stresses the real prospects of nuclear war (Surviving Doomsday, Shaw & Sons, London, 1977), problems spelled out in an article in the Guardian on 21 November 1977. When Sibley showed his manuscript to a literary agent, he was told that:

There are certain subjects which the reading public tends to shy away from — such as the fear of cancer or blindness. I am afraid one has to add an atomic holocaust to that category. This is purely a subjective opinion, but I seriously doubt whether readers would want to be both depressed and scared to that degree.

If such an attitude really is widespread — not just among general readers of books but among futurologists themselves, it is doubly unfortunate.


Nuclear Weapon Ozone Layer Military Expenditure Military Spending Biological Weapon 
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Copyright information

© The Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, and John Gribbin 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Gribbin
    • 1
  1. 1.Science Policy Research UnitUniversity of SussexBrightonEngland

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