Making Sense of Mysteries

This helpful summary from The Straits Times covering the issues surrounding the disappearance of flight MH370  not only provides some useful insight, the analysis also holds some important lessons for research in general.

1. Know the situation

Comments on the internet fly fast and furious, often expressing frustration with the search efforts.  Some might find it ridiculous that a plane that big can be so hard to locate. But before we let fly our opinions, it might be worthwhile to understand the reality or magnitude of the search (this visualization might help), and also appreciate the difficulty in different national assets being coordinated for such a search effort. In your own research on your chosen issues, make doubly sure to know the situation inside out, be it stakeholders, contextual challenges, history etc. It’s impossible to provide solutions for a problem you do not fully understand.

2. Importance of corroboration

There have been speculations on just about anything and everything regarding the circumstances of the plane’s disappearance, from satellite debris images to whether the plane continued flying after communication with air traffic control was cut. Everyone – from journalists, aviation experts and even oil rig workers – seems eager to contribute a piece of the puzzle in this whirlwind of media attention. However, what the Malaysian authorities have continually emphasized till now amid their desperation is the need for corroboration of information. Similarly, make it a point to always corroborate information found from your research, be it ideas or facts. In an ever increasingly accessible and democratic internet, finding the truth becomes trickier by the minute.

3. Looking at similar cases 

MH370 might be a big mystery (no doubt amplified by today’s social media coverage) but it is certainly not the first case of airplane disappearance in modern history. Learning from past cases and attempts might provide invaluable insight into improving current issues.

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