Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Things Haven't Changed Much in Italy Since Galileo's Time

Galileo was sentenced to life in prison in 1633 (later commuted to house arrest), and his books banned, for writing that the earth revolves around the sun and is not the center of the universe.

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. 
"Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake," reads a statement posted on the USGS website. "They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future."
John Vidale, a Washington State seismologist and professor at the University of Washington, agreed that earthquake forecasting is simply impossible.
"We're not able to predict earthquakes very well at all," he told LiveScience.
"One problem is, we don't know how much stress it takes to break a fault," Vidale told the site. "Second we still don't know how much stress is down there. All we can do is measure how the ground is deforming."
Not knowing either of these factors makes it pretty tough to figure out when stresses will get to the point of a rupture, and an earth-shaking quake, LiveScience explained.
Why press manslaughter charges against seismologists who failed to predict an earthquake?

I submit that it is because once you acknowledge that unknowable variables make it impossible to predict an earthquake right under your feet tomorrow afternoon, you must acknowledge that unknowable variables make it impossible to predict average worldwide temperatures fifty years from now.

Of course, science is in the business of creating hypotheses, making predictions based on those hypotheses, and seeing how the predictions pan out. So seismology isn't really a science, is it?

Not so fast. Seismologists do make predictions; they're pretty good at predicting when a volcano will erupt* and where the greatest danger zone will be when it does.** The science of predicting earthquakes is not nearly so far advanced, which is why seismologists don't try - they admit they don't have a working hypothesis for predicting earthquakes. Global warming "scientists," on the other hand, make predictions that don't pan out, and instead of discarding the failed hypothesis, retrofit their observations to agree with it. First they predict global warming will cause the end of snowfall, and when you get record snowfalls (they're still skiing in Colorado this June and will still be skiing in Utah into July), they claim global warming is the cause of record snowfalls. "Our theory is true, no matter what the data show!" It's not a case of the evidence being wrong if it doesn't support global warming; all evidence supports global warming, even when it directly contradicts the other evidence that supports global warming.

Ayn Rand may not have been a scientist, but she spoke truly and well when she said, "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

* Thursday, July 28, at 4:37 am
** Send me $15 million and I'll tell you.

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