But that's not because I think the Pope has a special lucky magic rabbit's foot at the Vatican. I'll get back to that.
It's 10:08 p.m. in Rome as I'm posting this - so there isn't much of May 11, 2011 left there. Here in Minnesota, it's 3:08 p.m. Central, and the International Dateline is well to the west of here - so there's still quite a few hours left of 'today,' somewhere on Earth.
I still don't think Rome will be shaken and the city destroyed by a great, big earthquake. Not today.
Even though Raffaele Bendandi made predictions. He predicted stuff, and died in 1979. He didn't, apparently, predict the big May 11, 2011, Italian earthquake - but lots of folks saw his name and a prediction on the Internet - and that's almost another topic.
"According to a rumor that has circulated on the Internet for months, Raffaele Bendandi, an Italian pseudoscientist who died in 1979, predicted before his death that a massive earthquake will strike Rome on Wednesday, May 11.I don't blame folks in the English-speaking world for buying the notion that planetary alignments will cascade a cold fusion of metabolic proportions. Which is nonsense - but might sound cool.
"...Romans are taking heed and fleeing their city by the thousands...."
(LiveScience, via FoxNews.com)
"In Italy, Asia and New Zealand, long-range earthquake predictions from self-taught forecasters have recently had people on edge. But is it possible to pinpoint when a quake will strike?
"It's a quake prediction based on the movements of the moon, the sun and the planets, and made by a self-taught scientist who died in 1979.
"But on 11 May 2011, many people planned to stay away from Rome, fearing a quake forecast by the late Raffaele Bendandi - even though his writings contained no geographical location, nor a day or month.
"In New Zealand too, the quake predictions of a former magician who specialises in fishing weather forecasts have caused unease...."
(BBC News [emphasis mine])
"...'To predict an earthquake, you need a precursory signal of some kind, and we've yet to find anything reliable,' said Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 'A lot of things have been tried in terms of looking for electrical signals or gas release, and paying attention to animal behavior, but none of these have turned out to be reliable.'..."
Science education hasn't been a particularly high priority. Real science, not the 'everything causes cancer' stuff. And that's almost another topic, too.
Then there's that 2012 thing, and I've discussed that in another blog:
- "The Neutrinos are Coming! 2012 and Hollywood Science"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (November 16, 2009)
- 2012, the Mayan Calendar, and Y2K
- It's a 'calendar' thing
- 2012, the Mayan Calendar, and Y2K
Still, low-probability events do happen now and then. Like the earthquake in Alexandria, Minnesota, last month:
- "Earthquake in Alexandria, Just Down the Road"
Sauk Centre Journal Blog (May 1, 2011)
I don't know this, but my guess is that some of the 1,000,000,000 or so Catholics alive today are at least a bit superstitious. Rules or no rules.
Some Catholics probably aren't all that well-educated. And the intelligence of quite a few is - almost certainly - under the 50th percentile. In a population that large, that doesn't have academic requirements for membership - and I'm not going to start discussing statistics.
The Catholic Church has quite a few words to say about divination and magic. I think a reasonable paraphrase is: don't. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, (2115-2117)
As to why divination, attempts to "unveil" the future, aren't a good idea, I think the Catechism has a pretty good explanation:
"All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to 'unveil' the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone."Being superstitious is on the 'don't' list, too. (Catechism, 2110-2111)
On the other hand, I have no trouble at all with going to www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=56378&wuSelect=WEATHER, and learning that there's a 40% chance of precipitation tomorrow. I even stayed up late, last night, keeping an eye on a tornado watch for this part of Minnesota. Nothing happened here, by the way: but some folks east and south of us got heavy rain, hail, and - of course - lightning.
Does this make me a hypocrite?
No. Rejecting divination and palm-reading, while keeping track of weather forecasts, makes me a practicing Catholic who lives in the Information Age.
Weather forecasting is a practical application of meteorology: which is a science, and has been for some time. As for whether or not it's okay to study meteorology? A professor of geophysics (another science) at the Pontifical Academy of Science, Raymond Hide, has done scientific research in meteorology, as well as geomagnetism, geodesy, oceanography, planetary physics, fluid mechanics and nonlinear dynamics.
Yes, I think it's okay to check on weather forecasts: just as I think it's okay to keep the roof repaired, and wait for a green light before crossing an intersection.
As for the Italian quake? My take on that is that it's another silly rumor: which gave me something to write about today.
- "Veneration, Worship, and All That"
(April 16, 2011)
- "Called to Holiness, Not Stupidity"
(February 6, 2011)
- "If Catholics are Superstitious, How Come We're Not Allowed to be Superstitious?"
(August 18, 2010)
- "Copernicus, Galileo, Science and a Reality Check"
(October 26, 2009)
- "Catholic Church, Creationism, Evolution, Facts and Faith"
(March 5, 2009)
- "Seven dead after earthquake hits Spain"
CNN (May 11, 2011)
- Earthquake, yes
- Italy, no
- Prayer couldn't hurt, for
See, in this blog,
- "A Prayer for the Dead"
(June 25, 2009)
- "A Prayer for the Dead"
- "Italians Tremble at Prediction of May 11 Earthquake"
Natalie Wolchover, LiveScience (May 11, 2011)
- "Who, what, why: Can earthquakes be predicted?"
Megan Lane, BBC News (May 11, 2011)
- "Near-Zero Chance of May 11 Earthquake in Rome, USGS Says"
Natalie Wolchover, Life's Little Mysteries, LiveScience (May 9, 2011)