Ignorance and Disasters

November 1990 (VOL. 8, NO. 3)

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While ignorance has long troubled efforts to prevent, prepare for, or manage the aftermath of disasters, relatively little work has been done on the specific varieties of ignorance and the roles they play in disasters. The classical frameworks for decision-making under \\"uncertainty\\" are too restrictive, and many prescriptions for disaster management simple call for better communication or more data collection by way of reducing ignorance. Unfortunately, in connection with disasters, ignorance often is irreducible. This article presents a framework for understanding the various kinds of ignorance, and utilizes that framework to provide some insights and tools that may improve disaster preparedness, management, recovery, and learning.