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Stigma in science: the case of earthquake prediction

Joffe, H; Rossetto, T; Bradley, C; O'Connor, C; (2017) Stigma in science: the case of earthquake prediction. Disasters 10.1111/disa.12237. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This paper explores how earthquake scientists conceptualise earthquake prediction, particularly given the conviction of six earthquake scientists for manslaughter (subsequently overturned) on 22 October 2012 for having given inappropriate advice to the public prior to the L'Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009. In the first study of its kind, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 earthquake scientists and the transcribed interviews were analysed thematically. The scientists primarily denigrated earthquake prediction, showing strong emotive responses and distancing themselves from earthquake 'prediction' in favour of 'forecasting'. Earthquake prediction was regarded as impossible and harmful. The stigmatisation of the subject is discussed in the light of research on boundary work and stigma in science. The evaluation reveals how mitigation becomes the more favoured endeavour, creating a normative environment that disadvantages those who continue to pursue earthquake prediction research. Recommendations are made for communication with the public on earthquake risk, with a focus on how scientists portray uncertainty.

Type: Article
Title: Stigma in science: the case of earthquake prediction
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/disa.12237
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/disa.12237
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Boundary work, earthquake prediction, social representations, stigma in science
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1556954
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