In the Absence of Satisfying Facts—or Any Facts at All

ACADEME BLOG

On January 29, this was the lead headline on the NBC Nightly News newsfeed: “Malaysia Airlines MH370 Declared an ‘Accident,’ Search for Survivors Ends.”

On the surface, this headline is absurd in at least two very obvious ways.

First, how can the loss of the plane be declared an “accident” when no one has located a single piece of the wreckage and the area of the Indian Ocean that is now being searched—that is now being “mapped”—with very sophisticated radar equipment is only a best guess at where the plane ultimately went down? Given that the plane disappeared ten months ago, the word “accident” has no meaning at all unless it confirms that the loss of the plane was caused by something other than a criminal act or an act of terrorism. If it simply means that the plane crashed, then it was clear that this was an “accident” about…

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