A precept of science is that theories unsupported by observations and experiments must be corrected or rejected, however intuitively appealing they might be. Unfortunately, working scientists sometimes reflexively continue to use buzz phrases grounded in once‐prevalent paradigms that have been subsequently refuted. This can impede both earthquake research and hazard mitigation.

Well‐worn seismological buzz phrases include “earthquake cycle” (66 instances recorded in the ISI Web of Science database for the period 2009–2012), “seismic gap” (84), and “characteristic earthquake” (22). And the grand prize goes to…“seismic cycle,” with 88 hits. Each phrase carries heavy baggage of implicit assumptions. The primary assumption...

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