We are assured by science and religion on a daily basis that Armageddon — or its end of the world equivalent — will come to pass, and, believe it or not, there are so many ways that humanity and its home are subject to final destruction that a betting firm figured out the odds of various doomsday scenarios. They might have left out a few, but the more popular end times variations were calculated and a top 10 list was compiled. Interestingly, aliens wiping out the human race barely made the grade. And the odds-on favorite to take out the Earth and its resident human beings? Oddly enough, it came down to a tie between scenarios promulgated by science and, you guessed it, religion.
Working with a number of doomsday scenarios, the betting firm 888Poker calculated the odds of the end of the world via each scenario, according to the Daily Mail. Presenting the list as an infographic, the website stated that knowing the odds might help people better prepare for the end.
“While there’s no foolproof tactics for survival (particularly in the event of the sun destroying the Earth), you can at least start preparing for some of the more unusual disasters,” the betting firm said in a press release. “So, if somehow you manage to escape the horrors of the Earth’s demise, you can thank 888Poker for warning you before it was too late.”
The firm found that, even though it is a popular theme for Hollywood and science fiction writers, aliens invading Earth and destroying our planet have 500 to 1 odds of occurring. Being destroyed by a black hole is four times more likely (125 to 1 odds) to happen.
Technology is well-represented on the list, nabbing four slots. From grey goo (the unchecked destruction wrought by voracious self-replicating nanobots) at 100 to 1 odds to the end of the world coming via an exchange of nuclear missiles in World War 3 at 30 to 1 odds, controlled and uncontrolled/uncontrollable technology appears to be a popular apocalyptic fear. Sandwiched between them are end times spearheaded by a robot uprising (think: Skynet and the Terminator movies) at 80 to 1 odds and the use of uncontainable bioweapons (60 to 1 odds).
Natural disasters like succumbing to The Big One (the always imminent super-earthquake) or an Ice Age (even a mini one), continuous drought, and super storms place at 45 to 1 odds, scoring a better chance of occurring than annihilation by bioweapons but a little less likely than World War 3 ending it all.
Closely akin to the bioweapons scenario is the pandemic, which is third on the list but only by the slimmest of margins. At 2 to 1 odds, the odds of globe-encircling disease outbreak and die-off appear to be extremely likely. Given that HIV-AIDS (Human Immonudeficiency Virus – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) has taken an estimated 35 million lives worldwide since it was discovered in the 1980s (according to World Health Organization statistics) and the Spanish Influenza pandemic spread quickly around the world in three years (1918-1920) and killed at least 20 million people (per Nature, but some estimates go as high as 50 to 100 million), the scenario is not that difficult to imagine.
The top two ways the world might come to an end rely on faith and the scientific method. With the former, the world will come to an end in accordance with the prophecies of religion, such as with the battle at Armageddon for Christianity. 888Poker places the odds of such an occurrence at 1 to 1.
Tied for the top spot is the end of the world according to science. This ending will see the world end as the Sun begins expanding, growing so large that it will ultimately consume planet Earth before it begins its inevitable collapse. Seeing this red giant star scenario to its ultimate outcome will take hanging around for another four or five billion years, according to Business Insider.
Of course, there are other ways for the world to end, some that seem to stretch credulity in efforts to assuage the imaginings prevalent in pop culture. The betting firm noted endings that seem to be equally at home on a Hollywood horror movie list. These include the end of the world coming about due to giant monsters (159 million to 1 odds), a zombie apocalypse (1,000 to 1), a vampire apocalypse (35 million to 1), and an ape uprising (4,600 to 1).
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