Stories more compelling than facts

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Stories more compelling than facts

2909562594_4d02386b51A futurist named Marvin J. Cetron who apparently predicted 9/11 has just released the outcomes of a study that Cetron’s Forecasting International carried out for the Pentagon.  This report outlnes several possible prime US terrorism targets and it makes for interesting reading.

The report outlines 10 potential scenarios.  What makes them really compeling (and chilling) is the narrative form in which they are written.  It proves what we have always advocated: using story or narrative is much more compelling and convincing than using statistics or dry facts.

Here’s one of the scenario’s listed (for all 10, go to Newsmax.com).

“A four-seat Cessna 172 takes off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and turns southeast. In minutes, it passes over downtown Boston and arrives above the Distrigas liquefied natural gas depot on the far side of the Mystic River, in Everett. The small craft dives at a tanker that is unloading almost 40 million gallons of liquefied natural gas. On impact, a detonator sets off 250 pounds of explosives in the plane’s back seat. An explosion with the power of more than 50 Hiroshima bombs destroys the entire storage depot. Boston’s North End simply ceases to exist, along with parts of Chelsea, Everett, and Somerville.

Casualties: Nearly everyone within a half-mile of the terminal dies; at 1 mile, the toll averages 75 percent. An estimated 197,525 people are lost, with thousands more injured.

Consequences: Severe damage stretches for 2 miles in each direction. Several billion dollars worth of property is lost, including Boston City Hall and the Faneuil Market tourist area. The catastrophe dwarfs Hurricane Katrina by comparison. Lacking natural gas for heat, nearly 300 elderly residents die of cold during the winter. The tourists stop coming, businesses fail, and pundits sadly remark that Boston may never again be the city it once was.”

This makes for chilling reading, the narrative form makes it all the more real.  Most of the intelligence agencies (Members of the armed forces, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and many others) agree that the question isn’t whether America will be attacked on its own soil again. It’s only a question of when.

From a complexity perspective we know that it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the precise manner in which a terrorist attack will be executed.  Scenarios like these serve as warnings not to become too compacent.

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