In "Goblin topplers justified" (April 20), Earl Barnes writes that the toppling of a goblin in Goblin Valley State Park was justified "based on science."
Like Mr. Barnes, I have been working on geologic hazards for more than 20 years.
Unlike Mr. Barnes, I recognize that science is driven by evidence. No study has produced evidence that the toppled goblin was unstable under natural conditions.
I don’t know if a scientific analysis of that particular goblin would have found it safe, and neither does Mr. Barnes. In the absence of any evidence pointing toward instability, Mr. Barnes’ opinion that the toppling was justified is just that - an opinion. That opinion is not based on evidence, so it is not based on science.
Mr. Barnes mentioned in his letter that the victims of a rockfall outside of Zion National Park might have been saved if the instability of that hillside had been recognized.
Actually, the instability of that hillside had been recognized and reported before that rockfall occurred, but people continue to live there despite scientific data that document the hazard.
Rather than trying to exonerate the vandals who toppled the goblin, we geologists should focus on educating the public to avoid the geologic hazards that have been recognized by science.
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