First off, a very happy new year to everyone from all of us here at OSOP!
Secondly, in keeping with the time-honored tradition of taking the opportunity to look back and forward at the same time around this time of year, I thought it interesting to have a look at the subject of scientific information and how it is delivered to, and ingested by, the layman.
As is well known, scientists have the perennial problem of how to transmit information to the general public that is:
- Accurate and complete, yet understandable; while being
- Informative and useful, yet not causing undue panic or fear
Given the recent advancements in information distribution, this problem for seismologists is only becoming more difficult. Add to this all the news about fracking-induced earthquakes, the recent very large events causing widespread devastation, scientists being sent to prison for failing to publish an advance warning, the recent downturn in the public’s trust of scientific information in general, and the job for the seismology community and the (typically) layman reporter is formidable indeed.
Last weekend there were a few events around the world that garnered attention by the news. Having occurred so closely together in time, yet again we hear the ever-recurring question “Are earthquakes becoming larger and more frequent?”
We in the business know the answer to this question, but how best to answer it for everyone else?
In this news video discussing these recent events, the reportage begins seemingly to prey on the fears of the general public. As it progresses, however, it becomes obvious that this is, in fact, not the case. By the end, the reporter has successfully managed to be accurate and informative, soothing even.
Let’s hope this fine example of earthquake reporting becomes the norm for the future.
Have any favorite examples yourself? Please comment and provide links below to examples either good or bad.