Giampaolo Giuliani

While reporting "

The Aftershocks

," I will never forget this comment from Giuliani, the self-


 earthquake whisperer: 

“I don’t like very much to predict the future, because when you can see the bad things, people don’t want to hear from you.”

The motivations of a fraud can be mysterious. Some want riches or stardom, sure, but that explanation feels too tidy in the strange case of Giuliani. Famed seismologist Charles Richter probably came across more self-proclaimed earthquake oracles than anyone in history. Some of these individuals have loose screws, he once wrote, “but most of them are sane—at least in the clinical or legal sense, since they are not dangerous, and are not running around with bombs or guns. What ails them is exaggerated ego plus imperfect or ineffective education, so that they have not absorbed one of the fundamental rules of science—self-criticism. Their wish for attention distorts their perception of the facts, and sometimes leads them on into actual lying."

That pretty much sums it up, except the part about not being dangerous. I would argue otherwise.

AuthorDavid Wolman