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Here's a real worst-case scenario: One of the reasons there's such a fixation on Y2K disaster predictions is that in our secret heart of hearts, we love disaster stories.

"They touch our most basic instincts," psychologist and author Mary Pipher ("Reviving Ophelia") says in USA Weekend magazine. "As primates, we're hard-wired to pay attention to danger. No doubt our earliest ancestors watched, riveted, as saber-toothed tigers attacked their prey and avalanches wiped out tribes one mountain away. We humans can't not look at a train wreck. Our heartbeats accelerate, and our eyes widen."

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