Vancouver School Boards concern with missing children seems to ignore one possibility – maybe the projections were wrong. In other areas of predictive ‘science’ we have seen similar problems with estimates and projections. The case of the 1 million missing sockeye salmon in the early 1990s is a good example of when the ‘scientists’ just got it wrong. In 1992, 1994 and again in 2004 salmon turned up ‘missing’ on the Fraser. After the fact reviews of the situation found that the ‘real’ number of missing salmon was significant less that what had originally hit the headlines. More to our point here is the fact that the underlying cause of the ‘missing’ salmon was not the fact there where missing, but the that the models had predicted that they would be there and then didn’t turn up. The problem, to put it bluntly, was an imagined problem and was ultimately used as fodder in an anti-aboriginal rights political movement.
Students aren’t salmon, but I would suggest there are important parallels. The most important being that these aren’t really ‘real’ students’ that have suddenly disappeared. What are missing are ‘predicted’ enrolments. That is quite different than a misplaced child . . . While it is always dangerous to make predications, I am willing to suggest that after clearer minds review the available information we will find that what we have is a combination of predication errors, economic factors (i.e. out migration) and demographic changes.