Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Feng Shui kills


A Chinese bridge that collapsed killing at least 41 people was made with rocks and concrete rather than stronger steel so that it would be in “harmony with the environment, state media said, quoting an official.  … “While the cause of the collapse is still unknown, a local official at the scene claimed that a ‘traditional and risky’ model of bridge, made of stone and concrete, had been chosen over a steel structure to ensure it remained ‘in harmony with the natural environment’,” the China Daily said. [Reuters]

That reminds of a classic 1999 parody written by Steven Novella:

Alternative Engineering”
A new phenomenon is sweeping the country, gaining the attention of both consumers and manufacturers alike. Increasingly disenchanted with the cold metallic world our modern technology is producing, people are beginning to take a close look at more natural alternatives. Collectively called Alternative Engineering (AE), a host of new and old methods are gaining scientific respectability.
Alec Waterston is one such self-styled alternative engineer. … Alec’s latest project is a design for a 1200 foot non-suspension bridge. He claims the bridge will be able to span this distance without pilons or overhead suspension, and will be supported only by the ancient art of Fung Sui. “This wisdom, which is thousands of years old, is the art of channeling energy through design and form. This energy can be used to support a 1200 foot bridge, or even larger structures.” City planners are intrigued by these designs, as such bridges will cost less than half of those built by conventional designs.
Alec has his critics, however. Anthony Trellis, a professor of engineering at State University, claims that Alec’s designs run contrary to basic principles of physics and material science. An exasperated Trellis commented, “A bridge built based upon Waterston’s designs simply cannot stand. It would be unsafe in the extreme.”
Alec is not perturbed by such criticism, however. “Of course professor Trellis does not like my designs, because they challenge his precious status quo and turn his world upside-down. The protectionism of the old guard, however, is starting to crumble, like one of their obsolete buildings.”
[Continue reading]

Sad thing is, it happened and people actually died. News of the disaster via Japundit.

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