chapter  13
How Not to Learn: Resilience in the Study of Disaster
ByBENIGNO A. AGUIRRE, ERIC BEST
Pages 17

In this chapter the fad of resilience is examined to argue for the use of a reliability paradigm that is much more focused on finding answers to clear questions of programmatic importance to the finite group of complex organizations that are the critical actors in responding to and minimizing the effects of disasters. Science is one domain open to faddish behavior, for it labors in the uncertainty of what constitutes new knowledge. Faddish behavior has both generations and targets. Groups of scholars make claim that a new theory or method constitutes real progress for their discipline. These claim-makings are akin to propaganda (cf. MacKenzie 1984) based as they are in constant repetitions in oral presentations, professional journals, and monographs. The new interpretations contain worthwhile ideas, but they are inflated out of proportion through the introduction of new concepts, metaphors, and other rhetorical devices and their association with scholars and centers of learning of some renown. These practices convince others that the new scheme is a real advance. Its popularity also depends in the creation of a slogan or a short phrase that is easily repeated and remembered. Often it is not the initial writers but those who follow them who engage in ridiculing their presumed opponents, rejecting the value of the writings of social scientists that previously labored in their field of specialization.