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Tsunami predictions - Drinking from the Fire Hose — LiveJournal
and trying not to drown

Date: 2005-01-13 21:09
Subject: Tsunami predictions
Security: Public
Music:CSI: Snakes

As far as I'm aware, no psychic claims to have predicted the recent tsunami. It was, however, predicted by a 10-year-old girl.

Tilly Smith, on vacation with the rest of her family in Phuket, Thailand, noticed the tide leaving suddenly. Recalling a geography lesson about earthquakes and tsunamis taught the previous term, she realized the water would return as a wall of water in about ten minutes' time. Smith alerted her mother, leading to the evacuation of Maikhao beach and a neighboring hotel and the saving of hundreds of lives.
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User: rmeidaking
Date: 2005-01-14 03:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That wasn't predicting. That was noticing.

Tilly wasn't the only one who noticed. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of similar stories. Whole tribes noticed and ran for the hills.

Tilly's story made the news for several reasons, first and foremost being that she's British, and the British have tracked down every Brit over there for a sound-bite. The next reason was that she managed to convince her mom, who convinced the hotel, and thus *that* hotel isn't coping with as much death as its neighbors are. Tilly deserves all the acclaim she's getting, but it's for *noticing* and not for *predicting*.

There was an interview with a US geologist from Hawaii who admitted to thinking that the earthquake might cause a tsunami, but because of the lack of appropriate sensors, he couldn't know for certain, and by the time he had sufficient data to be sure, the tsunami had already struck Indonesia and was most of the way to Sri Lanka.

Steve is teasing me about how much tsunami coverage I have been watching. You'd think it happened on another planet..... ;-)
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User: mrs_sweetpeach
Date: 2005-01-14 03:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To my mind, one can notice water leaving, but knowing that it will return as a wall of water requires prediction. It's impossible to observe something that hasn't happened yet.

The dictionary appears to agree with me:

v. tr.

To state, tell about, or make known in advance, especially on the basis of special knowledge.
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User: johnridley
Date: 2005-01-14 12:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not really. She had been taught that the water receding like that is the FIRST STAGE of a tsunami, not a separate event which could only be connected with a tsunami by some wild stroke of intuition.

This is like saying that when you see someone reach for a doorknob, you're "predicting" that they're going to open the door and go through it. Technically true I suppose, but this is not "special knowledge" - it's knowledge commonly taught in school. I heard it in school several times, as have most other people I have talked to about it (at least, people who were actually paying attention in school).

The surprising thing here is that the girl was able to convince so many people. I suspect this is because she's a damn smart and serious kid and her mom knows it and gives credence to what she says. Good job too, but as has been mentioned, many thousands of people actually did the same "prediction". I heard at least one story of a man who had seen the water receding, started shouting at everyone to get the hell off the beach, a tsunami was coming; everyone ignored him, he made it to the hills but a lot of folks didn't.

My favorite story was about the stone-age tribes in the area who still pass learning down generations verbally. They live on low islands. They saw the water receding and immediately either went into the hills or if in their boats, went as far away from land as they could get as quickly as they could. The only reported injury to anyone in their tribes is that one woman hurt her ankle when she fell out of a tree she was climbing. When the coast guard sent a helicopter to check up on them soon after the event, they shot arrows at it.
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