Posts in Catastrophes
A recent issue of Science magazine features a news article about seven scientists in Italy who are facing manslaughter charges for not predicting the danger of an earthquake that killed 308 people. The scientists were part of a risk committee of earth scientists who testified that incipient tremors were not evidence of an oncoming earthquake in 2009. While it may be presumptuous to actually put scientists on trial for a failure to dialogue with decision-makers, this puts into question the implicit “social contract of science” that has justified basic scientific research since the end of WWII.
Journalists and public administrators need to get better at understanding complex socio-technological systems—and they need to get better fast.
As I prepared to teach my course, Technological Catastrophes, in the Summer II session, I was faced with an all too familiar problem – how to incorporate in the course the latest such catastrophe, in this case the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
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