Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quake Omens

In the wake of this week's terrible earthquake in China's Sichuan province, the country's bloggers are all atwitter with stories of omens and warnings that were ignored by the government. According to them, reports of restless animals, disappearing water, and the arrival of migratory toads all should have been seen as signs of an impending disaster. The people of China are awash in superstitions, and for understandable reasons. If your official information was as pigheaded and unreliable as that coming from the Chinese government, you might turn to homegrown sources of knowledge as well. But while mysterious animals and uncorroborated paranormal activity really mean nothing in the field of seismology, this does raise the question of what the Chinese government knew about this quake and when. There's a conspiracy theory floating around that the government kept any word of the impending quake from leaking to the public out of fear that it might cause a panic over the upcoming Beijing Olympics. This would seem like a ridiculous theory--after all, the quake itself would eventually cause the same panic--but remember that we are talking about the same government that preferred to develop weather-controlling technology over building a roof on their Olympic stadium. More details here.

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