Reporting Live After Death: AGU 2011: Day 1

Holy crap, AGU is here and in full swing. The morning kicked off with a bracing cup of Peet’s Coffee and then morning talks. Everything went by so damn fast. Post lunch I went to see the Simon Winchester keynote address.

First (before the speech) there was a rigid speech by the AGU President Michael McPhaden introducing the AGU meeting. Then followed a hilarious welcome to San Francisco video and a welcome message from the Mayor, Edwin Lee. Finally Simon Winchester got up to give his talk.

He told us that he hoped no one in the front row had tomatoes. I was really hoping he would use this opportunity to address many of the issues brought up regarding his News Week article “The Scariest Quake is Yet to Come”. Instead he chose to focus on inspirations for his latest novel. Although a great story teller, I felt recounting his inspirations fell flat in light of more important issues.

Before the Q&A session began after his speech. He did give some explanation for the writing of that article, though he failed to apologize for his lack of correcting himself after the publishing the blatant inaccuracies.

See, that News Week article was on the front page. It spread misinformation to everyone of their readers. However, there was never a rebuttal, or correction published on the same magnitude. The damage was done, and never corrected.

If Simon Winchester had really wanted to apologize he would have written a correcting article and issued a formal apology to the public. Instead he stood by his comments and the fear-mongering misinformation stayed with the public.

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