More nuttiness: neurosurgeon Ben Carson told Fox News that the people of Pompeii failed to survive because they didn't run away from the lava
- and moreover, they should have been able to fight the volcano
and beat it: "you can't tell me that if eleven thousand people put their minds to it they couldn’t beat one volcano!"
Okay, technnically he's right that people who dropped what they had at hand, got on a horse or something (horses were very much a status symbol at the time, and they too would have been vulnerable to the heat, or to a direct hit by pumice and red hot ashes) and dashed out of the city (perhaps even going on foot if they were grown up and fit?) as soon as they noticed a strange, thin kind of "warm snow" falling from the skies, those would have been able to survive. But these people didn't really know what was to come
- there wasn't even a word for volcano in the Latin language at the time - and it's not as if there was a sudden torrent of lava pulling down from the slopes of the mountain at that time, early in the eruption. It was more like small heated rocks and boiling hot ash falling from the sky, like hot ember hailstones. By the time it became so powerful that everyone would have had to realize the city was doomed, it was just about too late to get anywhere and darkness and poisonous gases had enveloped the town.
(A quick reconstruction of the phases of the AD 79 eruption here
Besides, after the rain of rocks and ash had become a steady flow, there were a few sudden,powerful heat shocks during the night and the next day, caused by collapsing heat and gas falling from up in the sky - basically swiftly killing off anything that was still alive on the ground and baking even the basements of Pompeii and Herculaneum to somewhere between 100 and 200 C (210 - 400 F). Even those who were around in the countryside and on the beaches within several miles of those cities were killed at that point.
Okay, Mr. Carson probably didn't read up about what happened with Mount Vesuvius in any detail - I get it that he's using Pompeii as a simile -but you'd think he would have seen from common sense that the chances of just running away from that kind of a sudden, violent eruption, once it turned really nasty, were very slim. And when he's calling on them to "beat the volcano" I don't know what he's talking about. Even people in Iceland who are monitoring Mount Katla, another heavyweight, for signs of the next eruption - it is approaching and could happen in a few years time - are clear that once it strikes there's no way they could stop it or try to shut it down, even with present-day technology.