When self-proclaimed climatologist Iben Browning predicted that a major earthquake would shatter the Heartland on 2 or 3 December 1990, many living within reach of the New Madrid fault zone reacted with varying combinations of preparation and panic. John E. Farley explores public reaction to Browning's pseudoscientific prediction, presenting important data gathered both before and after the threat proved empty. Farley and fellow members of his survey team consider the long-term effects of the Browning prediction on earthquake awareness and preparedness in a region that remains at risk for a damaging quake. All four surveys offer important insights into what people believe about earthquake risk in the NMSZ, what they know about earthquakes, what specific actions they have - and have not - taken in preparation for earthquakes, and what they think a severe quake would do to their neighborhoods.
John E. Farley is a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His books include "Majority-Minority Relations, Sociology, "and "American Social Problems: An Institutional Analysis."