Couldn’t science have warned us? After crises or disasters, the public often asks critical questions. The public feels that researchers’ attempts at explanations or models are useless. The competence and reliability of the individual sciences are doubted. This is where the project came in: Scientific knowledge in the field of extreme events is limited. Awareness of these limits should, in the long term, increase confidence in scientific statements in the event of crises or disasters. The project also aimed to promote discussion on how to deal with non-knowledge. New research questions were not posed. The aim was to identify inherent “blind spots” in the scientific disciplines. In the process, the “sea of unknowing” emerged. In contrast, there is the knowledge that is only known and available in the disciplines themselves. Knowledge about what is known and what is not known helps to avoid exaggerated expectations of science. The project team communicated results with infographics in the form of maps. The maps illustrate in clear pictures what is known about certain extreme events in the respective sciences – and what is not.

Duration: 09/2011 – 09/2014
Client: Volkswagenstiftung
Team: Dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel, Christoph Henseler
Project partner: TU Berlin, Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft