The other day the newspapers were full of headlines like this. The newscasts on radio and television made this their top story.
"Experts are 99% sure that we're going to have an earthquake in California by the year 2038."
They went on and on about this extensive study, that probably cost millions of dollars, that concluded that we're going to have an earthquake in California by the year 2038. A 99% chance!!
How can I get a contract with the state to do a study like this? Spend a year or so doing research so I can state the obvious and get everyone in a tizzy. The study concluded we would have a major earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.7 in somewhere in California. But they didn't say whether is would be in Northern California, Southern California, or Central California. They gave some lame estimates like we had a 66% chance in the San Francisco area but they didn't say where the 99% chance of an earthquake was.
We have earthquakes every day in California. It's a very large state with hundreds of earthquake faults. Of course we're going to have a major earthquake by 2038. You can also say there will be tornadoes in the midwest by the year 2038. Or hurricanes on the east coast by the year 2038.. And you would be absolutely correct.
So why is stating the obvious so powerful? It comes down to your headline. Start any story with a powerful headline, even if it's totally obvious, and you'll get attention. The more powerful the headline, the more attention you'll generate. People are busy and they need to be reminded of the obvious. Simply screaming something obvious that people are familiar with, will get their attention.
The anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is on April 18th so this may have been a way for the state officials to remind us to get prepared for the next natural disaster. It is amazing to me that everyone in California knows we're going to have a major disaster at some point and I don't know anyone that has an earthquake kit ready. we put one together a few years ago but we haven't checked it or replenished it since we made it two years ago. I guess I'll be going through my earthquake kit this weekend since it's at the top of my mind!
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