Italy persecutes scientists for failing to perform magic

Posted by: Phineas on May 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

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

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 Public Secrets)

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7 Responses to “Italy persecutes scientists for failing to perform magic”


  1. Carlos says:

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

    Heck, all anyone anywhere has to do to get back to the dark ages is to follow Islam’s lead…

    You know they’re just right up-to-the-minute. At least they would be if that minute was somewhere around the beginning of the last millennium.

  2. Zippy says:

    That’s insanity! As Glenn Beck said “The world is on fire:”. Insanity abounds and apparently there is no end to it.

  3. In the article to which the article to which you linked linked (uhh… yeah) is the “pertinent” charge:

    During the meeting on 31 March 2009 … one of the seven to be tried said there were no grounds for thinking that a major quake was imminent, even though the area around the town had been experiencing a series of smaller tremors in the previous months.

    A scientist can speak of “no grounds” for thinking there’s a quake, and be scientifically accurate, but the common idiot needs to hear it very clearly in simple lay terms: “Hey, rubes! Science has no clue one way or another! NO CLUE, GOT THAT? MIGHT! MIGHT NOT! DON’T KNOW! CAN’T TELL!” Then the social scientists :) can say, “PREPARE FOR THE WORST YOU IDIOTS! QUAKES HAPPEN, ESPECIALLY HERE!”

    It would be more reasonable to try the news reporters, not the scientists. The way some science news is reported is practically a crime!

    Hereabouts, the Big One would mean Madrid, which could trash the country from Wisconsin to Texas.
    Remarkably, some respectful preparation has been going on. On the other hand, maybe Madrid won’t really go off in the next 50 years or so at all. It might be thousands of years.

    Should preparations cease, then? Sure, why not? We hardly even build to withstand tornadoes which we have every year, like clockwork. (And aren’t there a lot of people who would like to hang the weatherman when their picnic gets rained out!)

  4. Carlos says:

    What it really sounds like is the idiot Italian government officials got their scientific training at East Anglia University, probably from those professors who weren’t too busy checking to see what scientists were jumping off the AGW bandwagon at the time and planning how to discredit them if they did.

  5. captaingrumpy says:

    I think we should prosecute Al Gore for not foreseeing the earth cooling rather than warming like he said.

  6. Old Goat says:

    Can we prosecute Obama and his regime for their false predictions of what the stimulus would do? Seems like they are guilty of manslaughter of the economy.

  7. Carlos says:

    And probably for an increase in alcohol-related highway deaths, suicides, all manner of bad things because people have lost the “hope” that was promised and never delivered, O.G.