and politics] [How
to attract or send lightning away]
In ancient times people often tried to read the Gods will observing the nature and looking for some special signs. Although major part of these believes disappeared, some of them exist even today, usually as a custom or tradition, but sometimes as a belief too.
In Ancient Rome, members of the College of Augurs tried to read the will of the gods by observing the southern sky, looking for birds, lightning and shooting stars. If they saw a lightning bolt passing from left to right they thought it was a good sign. On the other hand, if they saw a lightning bolt passing from right to left, they considered it a sign that Jove did not approve actual political events. Whenever the augurs reported any sign of lightning, judges could cancel all public assemblies for the following day. Those reports became a useful political resource to delay unwanted meetings, the passage of laws and to forbid some pre-election assemblies.
In 1753, Benjamin Franklin published the description of the lightning rod for the first time. Soon after that, many co-called "Franklin rods" were installed on buildings in America and some British colonies. They proved themselves useful and lot of them was soon installed in all parts of the world. Despite that success, Franklin rod had its opponents. They thought that those devices actually attract lightning strikes to objects instead of protecting them. Some scientists preferred blunt-ended lightning rods. They thought that blunt-ended rods would not attract lightning to the object, but still would conduct away any lightning if it strikes.
Debate over pointed versus blunt-ended rods soon became a question of politics, rather than science. Identifying pointed rods with rebellious American colonies, English king George III preferred blunt ended rods. That kind of political rather than scientific thinking caused East India Company to replace all lightning rods on its powder magazines in Sumatra and soon lightning destroyed one of them.