Wednesday, April 8, 2009

They may believe it with passion but....

..Gioacchino Giuliani of the Italian National Institute of Physics, appears to believe erroneously in radon gas as a reliable predictor of earthquakes. Science is full of believers, even (especially?) amongst those with top credentials in getting through peer review. The creative act of imagination in initiating science is difficult to divorce from a desire to see the results follow a certain, vindicating path. But many of us believe too soon in our methods or results, without having performed the full range of controls. Better to get more cool heads working on any promising theme, then wait for the consensus to be established amongst the experts, before admitting belief.

Claims such as those of Giuliani are worthwhile discussing in public, but it is sad when wildly misleading statements, such as the global warming claims of David Bellamy, an influential British former TV broadcaster and botanist, need to be corrected, wasting valuable public debate space.

BTW: Glad to hear that Isabella Daidone, ex postdoc, who is now on the faculty at L'Aquila, was in Rome at the time of the recent quake. And while we're still on the subject of the L'Aquila earthquake, look at this telling donation of $50, 000 by the US government to help the relief effort.

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