It's a shame to see scientists being gagged for doing science. Of course, there are different ways of gagging: when Roger Revelle, one of the founders of climate change theory, announced in circumspect terms that he was having second thoughts, he was "denounced" as mentally ill, and the same treatment was meted out to internationally-known ecologist David Bellamy. Not content with this, last year establishment scientist David Suzuki called for politicians who dare to listen to scientists who agree that climate change isn't due to the activities of mankind to be jailed.
But with the dreadful news of yesterday's earthquake in Italy's L'Aquila comes the taking of vilifying scientists who dare to tell an inconvenient truth to a new level. The Telegraph's Chief Reporter Gordon Rayner reports:
An Italian geologist predicted the country's worst earthquake in almost 30 years but he was reported to the police for scaremongering...Even after he was proved right, civic leaders effectively dismissed him as a maverick whose accurate prediction was little more than a fluke.In an interview which has been posted on Youtube, geologist Giampaolo Giuliano spoke about his network of devices which record precursors to earthquakes, placed in Abruzzo, the area where the earthquake hapened, including nearby Gran Sasso. He stresses in the interview that nobody can definitively predict an earthquake, but points to increases over the winter in Radon in the area, which is a time-honoured method of predicting the probability of an earthquake recognised by IASPEI (International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior), and also to an increase in seismic events ("foreshocks"). Poignantly, he states that the majority of fatalities of an earthquake are caused by panic, and calls for people living in an earthquake zone to be given the opportunity to "compose themselves". Here's the interview, for anybody whose Italian might be less rusty than mine:
On Jeremy Vine's BBC Radio 2 talk-show, I've just heard Professor Philip Stott inform listeners that Giuliano is, in his opinion, a "technician" and not a "scientist", which seemed to indicate that he considered this a slight on Giuliani's abilities. So how come some politicians disappear in a cloud of carbon-taxes when economists, theologians and other politicians declaim on the putative science of climate-change?
Of course it's sad to see L'Aquila's beautiful Cathedral of San Massimo in ruins, but the pertinent fact here is that around 200 people are estimated to have been killed in this earthquake, whose herald has been criticised for predicting it a week too early and 40-45 miles away. Given the margins of error accepted for the science mixed with snake-oil salesmanship that powers climate-change con-tricks, I'd say that wasn't too bad.
I wouldn't be too insulted to be called a technician - it's certainly better than the language of mental illness being thrown about as it the terms were insults. But watch this space.