UNBELIEVABLE – AND DANGEROUS – AT 10:12 A.M. ET: It is hard to believe this is happening in a modern, democratic country (and a country whose culture I dearly love):
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."
COMMENT: This is pure madness. It reflects an attempt to find someone to blame. Since earthquakes can't be predicted with any precision, the government might look at building codes, which often are responsible for permitting catastrophic damage during a quake.
This is dangerous stuff. It's a kind of political correctness. And we shouldn't be self-righteous about it. In some of our own colleges and universities, both students and faculty have been destroyed by disciplinary action based on the latest political fad or trendy theory.
We would hope that this persecution of scientists will be cut short by the Italian legal system.
May 28, 2011