Abstract

The central United States and the nation experienced the effects of a false, pseudoscientific, unofficial prediction in 1990. The lack of a timely, public rebuttal of the Iben Browning earthquake prediction led to tremendous unnecessary efforts by local, state, and federal governments to respond to the public's demand for information about the validity of the prediction and how to prepare for the predicted earthquake. The effort was costly both in terms of money and diversion of staff from other necessary services. Although the prediction may have increased the level of earthquake awareness and preparedness in the central U.S., that awareness and preparedness may have been forged at the expense of scientific and government credibility.

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