The streets of Rome are a little quieter today as thousands of locals have chosen to skip work and head for the hills after a huge earthquake was predicted to hit the Italian Capital some time today by a well-known Italian seismologist, over 30 years ago!
Raffaele Bendandi was a self-taught scientist who believed that earthquakes were caused by the gravitational influence of the Sun, Moon and other planets. Though he never attempted to provide proof for his theories, which he believed were intuitively correct, Bendandi scored a number of notable successes in 1910s and 1920s that led to him being feted as “the man who can predict earthquakes” and made a Knight of the Crown of Italy by Mussolini (who also banned him from making public predictions). Because of this ban, Bendandi made no further earthquake predictions until the 1970s, when he successfully forecast the 1976 quake that hit Friuli, Italy.
Bendandi also claimed to have detected another planet, which he named Faenza, orbiting closer to the Sun than Mercury, but, like his science of ‘seismogenics’, his findings are roundly dismissed by modern scientists as imaginative but nothing more.
That he even made today’s prediction is a matter of dispute. Many sources claim that the prediction comes from dates written on notes found after his death and do not give a specific event or location at all, and even among Bendandi’s dedicated following, there is argument as to whether he predicted the Rome quake is due today or in 2511.
Still such is the reputation of Bendandi, who died in 1979, that as much as 18% of city employees are reported to have called in sick today, and many stores are closed and shuttered. (BBC News).
I'm certain every reader of this blog could happily spend hours at The Skeptic's Dictionary, whose mission since 1994 has been to explore "Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions."