Thursday, May 15, 2008

The importance of critical thinking

Yesterday I got a text message and it reads like this:
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY PREDICTS A 6.8 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE WILL HIT PHILIPPINE PLATES TONIGHT. PLEASE BE CALM AND ALERT. This text message comes from Hawaii State Emergency Preparedness Office. Pls pass (no harm in being prepared). pls pray
Now I'm pretty sure many people were scared (and rightly so) and passed it onto family and friends. But is there really any merit to it? This is where critical thinking helps. Here's are some of the red flags raised by this bogus message:

1.) There's no such thing as U.S. Geological Society. There's the U.S. Geological Survey, and they certainly don't make any specific predictions.

2.) There's no such thing as the Hawaii State Emergency Preparedness Office.

3.) There is no technology that accurately predicts earthquakes. The fact that this states a specific time (last night) and a specific magnitude (6.8) should also raise a red flag.

It irks me that there are people who are willing to create a panic and spread fear for a cheap laugh. True, there is no harm in being prepared, but there is plenty of potential harm in creating a panic.


rmacapobre said...

i got the same message. it stops from me. i had to google and look at news agencies before decding that this must be some kind of hoax. and apparently i was right. hehe

Skepticologist said...

Too bad not everyone does that...