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August 4, 2016

The Dangers of Post-Crash Speculation

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By: Phil Derner Jr.
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You know how you hold back your F-bombs when your niece and nephew are around, because they will mimic and repeat whatever you say?

You know when the Presidential candidate you dislike says something untrue or misleading about the candidate you’re pushing for, and how even though it’s simply false or easily rebutted, people believe it anyway?

Both of these examples are why speculation following news events is dangerous and irresponsible. Whether it’s true, false, a lie or implied, people will believe it merely because it is said. Speculation fills social media after airline crashes, and whether it is ridiculous or even fairly well thought-out, there are repercussions for it.

On social media, everything is seen. The news media will pick something up, your message will spread, and the traveling public will suddenly have a litany of new fears as they board aircraft around the world. Misinformation, and the subsequent inability to spread, or trust the accurate information, is a horrible side effect of what could be an opportunity to educate, enlighten and reassure people of how safe aviation actually is.

One minor example, I saw one person say “weather could be a factor.” Based on what? It was 2 hours after the crash Emirates 521 and we knew nothing. I mean, yes, weather could have been a factor. But so could aliens and global warming and a George Washington zombie, for that matter. Nothing is accomplished by saying that, other than making other people be more afraid to fly any time there is weather of any kind.

I have to admit, that I speculate. I do it a lot. I speculate by myself or talking with friends in the industry. We throw both reasoned and ridiculous ideas around, and then learn a lot from the information shared in the responses we give each other. But it is like profanity; I keep it for the right audience, or else it will have some really shitty effects.

I hope no kids are reading this.

Phil Derner founded NYCAviation in 2003. A lifetime aviation enthusiast that grew up across the water from La Guardia Airport, Phil has airline experience as a Loadmaster, Operations Controller and Flight Dispatcher. He currently runs NYCAviation and performs duties as an aviation insider for the news media. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.


  • Daveabbey

    Wait a minute Phil! You’re saying just because it’s on the internet it may not actually be true?