Quote: “The biggest problem with earthquake prediction studies is that you do not know when there will be an earthquake.” Alasdair Skelton , Stockholm University, Sweden
Figure of Speech: Catch-22; or, in rhetoric, autophasia, the rule that chases its own tail. From the Greek, meaning “speaks of itself.”
Poor Professor Skelton. If he only knew when an earthquake was going to happen, his prediction could be 100 percent accurate. But then he’d be out of a job. Thanks to the nimble Figarist Jack Quick for providing today’s quote. It’s a superb example of an autophasia, a rule that one must violate to obey.
Long before Joseph Heller’s classic novel, the ancients knew their Catch-22. After all, it takes a logician to catch an illogician.
Snappy Answer: “To paraphrase our President, we Americans don’t predict earthquakes. We make them.”