There are horrors out there, does J. Q. Public really need to know?

It’s a standard trope of movies and books. Men in Black. The Dresden Files. The Drood family. The Laundry. And literally hundreds of others. There are the normal everyday people leading normal everyday lives. There are rogue humans, aliens, demons, gods who think the drooling masses would look great in slave collars or on an hors d’oeuvres tray. Then there is the organization/family/superhero who is standing between them and who is also tasked with keeping the former from finding out about the latter.

So the question (poll forthcoming) is whether the general public has any right or need to know about the battles being fought in silence on their behalf.

I’ll save most of my reasoning for later posts, but just point out now that in most scenarios, the average person can have no more effect on things than the worker ant can have on the farmer plowing the field and destroying it’s nest.

Also, while many of you will believe that you can handle the truth while the rest of humanity would be reduced to gibbering panic, that won’t be an option. It’s everyone or no one.

It depends. Demon serial killer stalking my neighbourhood? Yeah, you better say something. I can at least leave the area then, instead of being a sitting duck. Aliens that have integrated into society and aren’t actively being malicious, kinda like some of the aliens in MiB? Meh.

Also, if you haven’t said anything before, but we’re coming upon the Final Battle, where a huge section of humanity has a chance to be killed? I want to know if the end of the world is coming and what’s causing it.

Yes, I think the public should be informed, for two reasons:

  1. If the government is fighting this horrible evil, it’s likely spending my money doing it. I don’t need to know exactly how it’s spending it, but I want to know that it’s happening. For instance, I don’t know exactly how taxes are spent on the War On Terror, the War On Drugs, or the War On Slightly Smelly Tuna That’s Not Quite Past Its Expiration Date, but I want to know that the wars exist.
  2. If there’s any chance of saving myself, I’d like to have it by having a chance to prepare or escape. Or at least say goodbye to my loved ones.

Depends on whether or not I’m one of the forces standing between the horrors and Mr./Mrs. public.

I can’t tell if you are asking about movie/book situations or real life. In either case, we deserve to know that we are paying people to do a job. Who gets to decide that I would run away in a gibbering panic? My guess is the only reason we would not be told is because it makes the easier for the “superhero” to do his job without oversight. Everyone thinks they could work better if the man isn’t poking his nose into it.

We already have too much this secret stuff going on. I’d be really pissed to find out some guys are flying around in spaceships, on my dime, and the rest of us are still talking about trying to reach Mars.

I have to think even unpleasant knowledge is better than blissful ignorance. Besides, if you let the full 7 or whatever we’re at billion minds know about the problem, it’s likely a better answer than “superhero” or “secret government-funded (and subject to de-funding) organization” will be produced.

The SyFy Channel is secretly funded by the government to train the American public to handle any situation involving any and all types of monsters. From vampires to mummys to dinosaurs to vampire mummy dinosaurs-you name it, and we can tell you how to kill it.


The Monday through Friday schedule for the more common monsters, and the Weekend schedule for the more exotic halfbreeds and mutants. The SyFy Channel even has themed weekends to show the public how to take care of variations of the same type of creature. If only our school system was run this well.

When astronomers discover that really huge mofo asteroid that really is going to smash Earth to smithereens, what are they (or anyone) going to do about it? Does anyone really need to know?

What would have been accomplished if Jor-El had been allowed to tell all of Krypton that the end was near? Maybe more babies would have been sent off to distant planets?

ETA: And will it do anybody any good, when the stars align right, to know that Cthulhu has awakened?

Well, it might give us time to cover ourselves with barbecue sauce.

I know I’d rather know what’s happening. Even if it’s hopeless and there’s nothing I can do about it. It would be nice to say goodbye.

When Great Cthulhu arises, we will attempt to be close, so he kills us first and quickly, before he starts to play with his food or try more interesting recipes.

It couldn’t be kept secret long.

I voted Other.

I want people to know, but not for the reason you stated in the poll. I think people should know because knowing represents the best chance of being able to eliminate the threat. If we’re talking about sci-fi, the secret organizations bent on protecting humanity is always hiding humanity or the Others from each other. Humanity, as a whole, should be able to come up with a way to destroy the Others, not simply hiding from them.

Also, I think the real world is boring and I want some chaos to happen. If I ever had personal knowledge that would rock the world, whatever it is, I would disseminate it without question just to see what would happen. If that means the world goes to chaos, so be it

As long as you’re prepared for the murder rate to skyrocket if the threat is something like, say, werewolves or aliens disguising themselves as humans…

I answered maybe.

My reasoning was that for certain issues, it’s better for the public to be informed. For example, vampires walk among us, but they are repelled by garlic. Good to inform people so they can douse themselves in garlic and protect themselves.

But for others, it would cause more problems than it would help. The Hellmouth has opened under this library? A bunch of wanna-be demon hunters are going to show up and either get slaughtered or get in the way of the heroes. That might be better to keep under wraps.

Deployable decoys. As long as the demons aren’t turning our cannon fodder into their cannon fodder, I don’t see where it’d be a problem. You’d probably want to discourage people from going after a necromancer, but even then, overwhelming him with sheer numbers might work, and the human race has the numbers. (A quick airstrike would be a better tactic, though.)

Don’t you mean “Syte”?

Yes, in real life the public should know about any threat that might personally effect them.

In fiction, however, it makes the story more plausable if you don’t have to divert from the battle storyline to also examine the alternate history created by a general awareness of the extraordinary or supernatural. In other words, in real life, there’s the slimmest possibility that there is a shadow government of wizards among us, but absolutely none that they have revealed themselves to us or that you can find Hogwarts on Google Maps.

I’m with the maybe crowd.

Secret war between the vampires and werewolves? Garlic and colloidal silver just became the best selling spices.

Nameless energy devouring entity in the next universe just waiting for some ignorant, crazy, or just plain evil bastard on this side to open a gateway and invite it in, and it’s absurdly easy to open the gate if you know it’s there? Gonna let that one stay under wraps.

I am not of the belief that we need to know everything at all times, particularly news from around the world - all the while puppet mastered by either government or television/media networks.
Truth and ‘awareness’ come with a price and particularly the spreading of doom and gloom does not make us more knowledgeable, less ignorant or some how more ‘connected.’

Things happens in Burma, for example - bad things, yet it aint our problem. Why make our children watch and learn about atrocities they cannot do anything about?

And ultimately, the more attention focused elsewhere means the less on ourselves - can’t get our house in order when we avert our gaze.
As for the freedom or right to information masquerade that online piracy organizations are advocating, that to me is nothing more than nerds and poor people looking for free stuff while hiding behind the banner of some altruistic fight against corporations and ‘corrupt’ governments. Groups like wikileaks and anonymous do more harm than good and only use our (the sheep) ‘interest’ as means to justify their personal need to stick it to the man.