"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Religion is still stupid

If you believe in god, then you might think that California has gotten what they deserve for recalling Governor Gray Davis and electing Arnold Schwarzenegger in his place, and that Iranians have been smitten down for, er, being part of the "Axis of Evil." If, on the other hand, you are an unbeliever, then you'd know that California's mudslides and Iran's earthquake are horrible news for residents in both of those places.

Having experienced a magnitude-6.6 earthquake myself earlier this month and a 7.6 quake a little over 4 years ago (with dozens of others between those 2 magnitudes in the meantime), I know that survival depends largely on construction quality. The death toll in Iran's 6.5 quake has already reached 5,000, and estimates of the final tally are already as high as 25,000 dead and 50,000 injured. In the 7.6 quake I experienced, there were "only" about 2,400 dead and 11,000 injured.

It's now winter in the northern hemisphere which is obviously the worst possible time to be left homeless by such disasters. From experience, governments are never fully prepared to handle such emergencies, and I hope that anarchistic people will fill that void in helping their fellow humans without waiting for someone to tell them how or where to do so. (Go to a shelter, donate food and blankets, help your neighbors, invite someone into your home -- that sort of thing.)

The Reuters article linked above mirrors a couple of the thoughts voiced in this post when it says:
The reformist Sharq newspaper said Iranians had to learn to live with earthquakes: "Nature is not violent, it is man that makes himself vulnerable by not observing the rule of nature". It also called for enforcement of the country's widely-flouted construction laws.

Iranian earthquake experts have attacked the Islamic Republic's dismal earthquake education and public fatalism.

"Most people think what God wills, will happen. This is absolutely wrong. This thinking is poisonous," Bahram Akasheh, professor of geophysics at Tehran University, told Reuters in an interview in October.
Assuming that the professor isn't presuming the existence of "God," then s/he's absolutely right.
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