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Volume 27, Issue 3

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Earthquake Article Scares Emergency Manager

Written by  JEFF RUBIN, PhD, CEM January 6, 2009

I had to comment on Thejendra’s article on earthquake prediction in the Fall 2008 issue. Seeing stuff like this scares me. Although we don’t have to “worry” about being able to predict earthquakes with any meaningful precision or accuracy, the author’s purported downsides of such a warning not only are without basis, they actually contradict observed behavior. No question that warnings don’t always help (e.g., the Homeland Security Alert System), particularly if they are too broad, too late, or do not have sufficient direction (HSAS providing excellent examples of all of that as well, particularly under its original format). Timing and delivery are critical; also no question that anticipation of an event can be far worse than the actual thing, whether relating to an injection or a “dirty bomb” (thus the tactics of terror) – that’s why we need to understand how people perceive risk. All of that said, people rarely display

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