Thursday, January 06, 2005

Where did they think the water had gone?

I wasn't going to post on the tsunami but this article-- MSNBC - Technology Alone Can't Save Us-- is a little much for me. It says that people rushed out onto exposed beach when the waters receded prior to the tsunami. I wonder where they thought the water had gone? There has been a lot of suffering and sympathy should be the rule, but it seems like some people have surrendered their common sense. Does it take education to think that maybe if the water went away, it might just come back? And if you are out where the water was and it does come back, that that might cause some problems for you?

The article says it was tourists and that could mean from any country including the countries that were hit. But some of them had to be from Western countries. Did they think it was some sort of theme park attraction technology set up to entertain the tourists? People have to have some common sense. It's a lot like the people who go to Yellowstone and try to get up close to moose and buffalo to get a picture. When they are attacked you wonder how they could have been so, to put it charitably, naive.

3 comments:

Doug G said...

Its who we are. The monkey reflex. We see trouble, we note a difference, and unless deep down something screams "this can kill you!", we run towards it chattering and gleeful. The curiosity, the joy in the new, made us masters of our domain. And sometimes kills us. We have to be trained, or experience it, to fear it, to run. Those of us who heard about the trough hitting first, that know the water receding at speed spells lethal danger, will run screaming. But we will be few, and the next time it happens to unprepared people, they will run towards it again. And we will ask why.

Ron said...

Common sense, alas, is lost. Sense, common or otherwise, has become uncommon - as ‘education’ has become more indoctrination, and not a dedicated exposition and exploration of the cumulative knowledge of mankind seen in history, religion, science, law, and government. Pardon me while I digress a bit...

‘Common sense’, according to one on-line dictionary, is; “Sound judgement not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgement.”

But, that is an astoundingly inaccurate definition. Judgment, to be sound, must come from direct knowledge acquired through education. Sound judgement may be augmented by intuitive or acquired perceptions, and an ability to estimate based on long experience, but in the end, to be sound it must be expressly based on specialized knowledge. Otherwise it will likely be unsound, or unfounded conjecture.

‘Native good judgement’ comes closer to describing what ‘common sense’ is. More accurately, it is the generally accepted knowledge of a educated society as a whole. Unfortunately, the level of education has declined across the world, most markedly within those societies deemed ‘educated’ today. In the US, we now graduate people from college that have less education than demanded of high school graduates in the mid 1800's. Witness the inability of most adults today to pass grade-school tests common in those days.

Finally, to the point at hand - yes, indeed those people on the beach should have had some sense of wrongness, some sense of foreboding, some sense of respect for the danger of massive amounts of water in rapid movement. And, it does appear from the picture that most of those who ran out were children. An older adult behind, may perhaps have been yelling at them to get back - and they are obviously running back, probably more prompted at the sight of the coming waves than by any call they heard. Notably, all of the people in that picture did survive - barely, from the tale I read.

But, the lesson they learned has also been learned by a world, most of which has not been familiar with this threat before. But, that lesson will soon be forgotten, and even if a multimillion dollar alarm system is installed, and even if drills are conducted on a regular basis, the next tsunami of that magnitude in that part of the world will still have the potential to kill tens of thousands on the lands closest to the fault where the quake originated - simply because it is so close to them.

Less than ten minutes elapsed between the time of the quake being felt on Sumatra, and the arrival of the first wave of water, which is not enough time for thousands of people to evacuate the entire populated low lands. But, that won’t stop the rebuilding of resorts, fishing villages, homes and businesses along the coasts of Sumatra.

And that is as it should be. We can’t move everyone out of California because of the dangers of earthquake, we won’t move everyone out of Florida and the Gulf states because of frequent hurricanes, or everyone off of the great plains states due to frequent tornadoes. Japan, sitting on the edge of more potential for tsunami damage than any place on earth will not cease to be heavily populated. That may be the common sense across the world - unfortunately, as most places on it have inherent dangers that people live with.

But, common sense does tell us that people can act awfully dumb far too often, often times killing themselves when only their actions at the time were to blame, and no threat of natural disaster existed at all.

Common sense also tells us that broadcast media can't get enough of one story for far too long, and with great excess beat their listeners to death with it.

Sorry.... I’ve blithered on far too long, and common sense demands that I stop! It's past time for bed... 8^)

Quit Smoking said...

Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',

Neil