Italy persecutes scientists for failing to perform magic

May 30, 2011

Really, what else can you say about nonsense like this?

Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake

Italian government officials have accused the country’s top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people.

A shocked spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) likened the accusations to a witch hunt.

“It has a medieval flavor to it — like witches are being put on trial,” the stunned spokesman told FoxNews.com.

Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), will face trial along with six other scientists and technicians, after failing to predict the future and the impending disaster.

Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully.

Not just nearly impossible, they are impossible to predict. Whether by looking for precursors such as clusters of micro-quakes or by theoretical geophysical modeling, the phenomena of earthquakes are simply too complex for our current understanding to make anything resembling a reasonable prediction. This makes liberal efforts to control a market economy look like child’s play in comparison.

Like the Italians, I live in “earthquake country.” Every so often, we get warnings about “the big one” being overdue. What they mean is that, historically, large quakes have occurred in Southern California “every so often, plus or minus a lot of years,” and so Los Angeles is bound to have one. But you see how vague that is? Yes, we’ve gone longer than the historical average for a truly big temblor, but will it happen tomorrow, next week, or in a thousand years? No one knows, and no one can say. Local media love it, of course, because it allows them to boost tepid ratings by scaring the public. Public officials give in to it, because fear rather than prudence seems to be the only way to get people to have adequate emergency supplies on hand and take other measures to mitigate risk.

But it’s all a carnival sideshow, with Madame Olga reading the cards to to tell you when the earth demons will dance. It’s a psychological binky for infantilized adults who are frightened of a future they cannot control.

Which is apparently what Italians want, and now they’re going to punish scientists for not giving it to them.

Welcome to the 21st century. Next stop, the Dark Ages.

PS: Yeah, I said I was going to stay off the Internet today, but I just wanted to scan the news, then I saw this, and… and… I’m weak.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)