Crazy Science in Italy

Being from the US, hearing weird explanations for things from religious crazies is something that's not entirely out of the ordinary, unfortunately.

However, that sort of thing is generally rarer in Europe, and even in Italy, where the presence of the Catholic church is strong, they tend to limit themselves to politics and morality, rather that making bizarre statements along the lines of Jerry Falwell's blaming the September 11th terrorist attacks on "sinful behavior".

An exception to that rule has popped up from an odd place, though: Roberto de Mattei is a Vice President of the Italian CNR, or Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council), which is an Italian public organization set up to support scientific and technological research, and lately he's been saying some very odd things:

Here, he's saying that Messina was "punished by god for atheism" in a massive earthquake in 1908 that killed in the neighborhood of 100,000 people: http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2011/04/22/news/de_mattei_insiste-15267235/?ref=HREC1-1

Recently, he went on record that the earthquake in Japan happened for similar reasons.

While this sort of inanity is hardly acceptable from anyone, it is especially appalling that it comes from someone in a leadership position at an institution for scientific research.  In a country that underspends on research, where many promising young scientists must go abroad if they have any hope of continuing their careers, that someone with such barbaric views is kept on the payroll is an outrage.

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