Italian Scientists Convicted Of Manslaughter, Sentenced To 6 Years In Jail, Over Earthquake They Failed To Predict Properly

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

A year and a half ago, we wrote about some Italian seismologists who were being tried for manslaughter after a risk assessment they wrote up, in which they concluded that a series of small earthquakes along a faultline wasn't that serious, and the risk of a big earthquake was not that high. About a week later, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck, destroying a bunch of buildings and killing over 300 people. Admittedly, one government official exaggerated what the report said, claiming that there was no danger -- but government officials have a way of taking a nuanced claim and turning it into a crazy absolute. Either way, because of all of this, the seismologists and the government official were charged with manslaughter -- especially after it was claimed that some people stayed inside during the quake, believing the recent reporting about there being no risk.

Because of that, they've now been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in jail. This is despite the fact that the report quite clearly said that "earthquakes were unpredictable, and that building codes in the area needed to be adjusted to provide better seismic safety."

The conviction is tremendously troubling -- and the scientific community is quite rightly up in arms about it. Even more bizarre is that the judge didn't seem to care too much about the concerns everyone was raising. From John Timer's report:
The prosecution had attracted widespread condemnation from the scientific community, with one petition on behalf of the seismologists attracting over 5,000 signatures. But, shockingly, the judge in the case took only a few hours to deliver the verdict, and handed down sentences that were two years longer than those requested by the prosecutor.
It seems like a fairly extreme theory of negligence that would lead one to decide that a "too tame" seismology report was negligent and resulted in manslaughter. And, of course, the chilling effects of such a ruling will be tremendous. Who will be willing to provide such a report in the future? And, if anyone does, won't they now err on the side of "we're all going to die!!" even if the evidence doesn't support that? It's not surprising that people want to spread blame around when there are tragic deaths, but sometimes it goes way, way too far.


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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:37am

    I feel quite shaken up about this.

     

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    Richard (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Blame Culture

    It's not surprising that people want to spread blame around when there are tragic deaths, but sometimes it goes way, way too far.


    These days it usually goes too far. The tragic result is that the real causes get neglected.

    All the effort that goes into these legal cases would be far better spent trying to work out why the forecasts were so far wrong.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:26pm

      Re: Blame Culture

      This is the equivalent group of idiots that had Galileo trembling.

       

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      orbitalinsertion (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:29pm

      Re: Blame Culture

      There are no forecasts - there is no such thing. It can be estimated, to a degree of reliability, how bad an earthquake can be in a particular area. And relying on magnitude numbers doesn't even begin to cover the effects shaking will have.

       

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    Lord Binky, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:41am

    Scientist - "It does not appear the small earthquakes are leading up to a big earthquake. In any case, Big earthquakes are still possible, so buildings need to be made safer for seismic activities."

    Politician-"Scientists said 'Don't worry be happy!'"

    {Big Earthquake,(possibly out of code??) houses collapse}

    Italy-"Scientists didn't scare the Politician into a knee-jerk reaction! Arrest them for their panic-less results!"

     

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      Niall (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      Isn't this kind of the opposite of what the climate change-deniers are claiming - that scientists are 'scaring' poor politicians into 'over-reacting'?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 8:42pm

      Re:

      The real problem was the politicians refusing to fix the building code (because that would antagonize their wealthy friends in the building industry), plus politicians lying that the risk was zero. The scientific report did not say that the risk was zero and it did say that the building code needed fixing. When things go wrong, the politicians then look around for anybody but themselves to take the blame. The scientists were the convenient scapegoat.

      This is the culture of risky management in action. Managers (politicians in this case) take foolish risks because their incentives are bad. If all goes well (most likely), the managers look good for having taken the risk. If things go badly (unlikely), someone else takes the loss. The managers want to look good, so provided they can be assured that someone else takes the loss, then it is in the manager's interest to take the risk. Many disasters have been caused by this.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:42am

    perhaps in future, when no one even attempts to forewarn Italy about an impending disaster, the government will realise just what they have done. i am waiting to see how long before the mass exodus of all scientists begins. i am curious as to who decided that this was a good road to go down, whether they had thought the action through and considered the probable consequences? it seems to me that governments the world over are behaving like total twats. i wonder what has caused this global diminishing mentality? will it affect the rest of us?

     

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      DannyB (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      There will be a mass exodus of scientists.

      Good riddance to those godless scientists with their evolution, birth control, genetic tampering, and wasting of time looking at the stars.

      If you can't trust scientists to predict something simple like an earthquake, then how could you trust them to predict something big like a tsunami, a plague, or an asteroid impact?

      Let them leave the predicting of disasters to religious prophets -- who have a much better track record.

      /sarc

       

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      anon, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:44pm

      Re:

      I was just about to write this here, if anything I doubt there are any scientists that will now even attempt to warn about an earthquake in the near future until this case can be reversed,or scientist will give major warnings and people will be evacuated weekly just in case...

      Maybe the Courts can go after this judge for his ruling causing major deaths when an earthquake does hit and everyone is too scared to give even a qualified warning.


      One thing I wonder is if this judge actually lost anyone in the quake, maybe that is why he has made such a crazy ruling.

       

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      Reader 128942, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 8:47pm

      Governments have created it...

      It is a direct result of governments herding their populations like sheep and shaping everybody as mindless consumers who will swallow the next big chunk of propaganda.

      Don't look for improvement or change, it will not come, we're headed down a horrible route and unfortunately for us common people we're going to be left out in the cold by our 'superiors' when push comes to shove.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:43am

    My Report.....

    The sky is falling! The world will end Dec 21, 2012!


    Course with that report I'll be negligent for inciting panic and rioting right?

     

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    iambinarymind (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Causality Be Damned!

    The State is so illogical it has now managed to reverse cause and effect.

     

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    Lord Binky, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:49am

    From anecdotyl evidence from people more familiar with the story, this appears to be a scapegoat scenario that is protecting officials/contractors/engineers in charge of the building codes / perform the building inspections / etc.

    Examples such as a school dormitory collapsing that was in italy news. After just being inspected with the engineer signing off the building was safe in spite of the cracking structure, it collapsed not much later.

    Note: Europe handles it's professional engineers differently than the US in alot of ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Looks like Italy won't be needing any earthquake predictions nor people to make them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Let's hang the weather man!!!

     

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    Danny, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:56am

    I wonder...

    how would this have played out of there had been no large quake? My money says that we would not be hearing a peep out of the scientists that released this report. No the Italian people would be hearing about how the government made the right call (and the world at large wouldn't even hear that much).

    Its scapegoating. Politicians are scared that someone would hold them responsible for the deaths of those killed by the quake so they made a preemptive strike by holding someone else responsible first.

     

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      Nastybutler, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:09pm

      Re: I wonder...

      how would this have played out of there had been no large quake? My money says that we would not be hearing a peep out of the scientists that released this report. No the Italian people would be hearing about how the government made the right call (and the world at large wouldn't even hear that much).

      Your level of insight is simply stunning. How do you do it?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:20pm

        Re: Re: I wonder...

        Probably by reading the news and coming to the same obvious conclusions that everyone else on this comment page is coming to. It wouldn't bear repeating if there were no practical consequences,

         

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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    The appeals court should overturn this conviction, since the team also didn't predict this would happen to them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    Wow....just wow...

     

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    Jeremy, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    The Judge is an idiot

    ..especially after it was claimed that some people stayed inside during the quake, believing the recent reporting about there being no risk.

    I could probably demonstrate scientifically why staying indoors during an earthquake is safer than everyone rushing for the exits while the building is being shaken off of it's foundation. In fact the denser the population, the worse you do trying to get outside during a quake. Being trapped for a few days is actually a worst case of being inside. Most buildings don't collapse entirely in most quakes, meaning you'll ride it out inside, then crawl or even walk out after it's over.

    Getting pelted by building materials, live electrical wires, dodging cars that are moving around uncontrolled, and getting sliced by falling glass are just a few of the things you need to worry about by running outside.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:58pm

      Re: The Judge is an idiot

      We just had an earthquake drill last week and were taught that in the event of an earthquake we absolutely should not go outside for just the reasons you cite.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    That should encourage those scientists monitoring Vesuvius and Etna to stay answer we don't know what's going on whenever asked what the volcanoes are up to.

     

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    John Doe, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

    There are ? number of possible outcomes here. 1) The scientists say no big earthquake is imminent, they are wrong and jailed for 6 years. 2) The scientists say a big one is coming, people panic, it doesn't happen and they are jailed for 6 years. 3) Scientists say there is a big one coming and are right they become heroes. 4) Scientists say there is no big one coming and it doesn't happen, nobody notices.

    So there is a 50% chance of going to jail for 6 years, a 25% chance of being a hero or 25% chance of going unnoticed. I don't like those odds.

     

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      Chris-Mouse (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:32pm

      Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

      You missed 5) Scientists say they don't know. People then question why they're paying for science, and all the funding is cut.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:23pm

        Re: Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

        And random stones fall on the heads of all Italian residents, no matter what their level of common sense, how they vote, or whether they understand scientific predictions.

         

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      DannyB (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:55pm

      Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

      > 3) Scientists say there is a big one coming and are right they become heroes.

      If they are right, then they also would be blamed.

      Change your statistics to:

      75% chance of going to jail for 6 years.
      25% chance of going unnoticed.

       

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      bob, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:32pm

      Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

      the italian reply: Yes, but there is a 50% chance of NOT being jailed!
      (the emphasis makes it better) :-P

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:44pm

      Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

      If they predict and earthquake correctly, they'll get accused of witchcraft.

       

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      Emil Ole William Kirkegaard, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 3:17pm

      Re: There are 4 outcomes here, 2 of them bad, 1 is great and 1 is so-so

      Those aren't equiprobable.

       

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    Chris Brand (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Sad reflection on Italian education

    Apparently even the judiciary can't distinguish between "a small chance" and "no chance".

     

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    Atkray (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:18pm

    The sad thing is

    This is really the same thinking that brought the TSA into existence.

     

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    Jim G., Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Really Mike, this one is easy. Just use one chilling effect to cancel out another.

    1) Make sure all reports say some version of "We are all going to die!"

    2) The instant anyone quotes or references the report in any way IMMEDIATELY send a DMCA takedown notice insisting the information is copyrighted and can not be used.

    Problem solved! With any luck the website mentioning the report will be seized by the government.

     

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    Trish, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    Acts of God not covered by this warranty

    This reminds me; I used to work for an electronics warranty company, and the warranties stated "(...) and acts of God are not covered by this warranty". Hey, if it's God's fault, sue God, right? This takes it one more crazy step, into "just sue another human being for not being as omniscient as God by failing to predict the future".
    Perhaps a nice, quiet life studying more theoretical sciences, such as quantum thoery, would be less risky for today's wannabe scientist.

     

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    Zach, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    Abortion of justice.

    Looks like we need a hung jury.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    That's the issue with risk assessment. There is never no risk. If you say the risk is small, people assume it is zero.

    If it then happens, the risk (probablility of it happening) should have been 100%. Rare events can never happen by pure random chance.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:38pm

      Re:

      "If it then happens, the risk (probablility of it happening) should have been 100%. Rare events can never happen by pure random chance."

      No, but they can happen do to circumstances outside our ability to measure and make meaningful predictions from.

       

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      Togashi (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      That's the issue with playing poker. There is never any doubt. If you say the odds of drawing a royal flush are about one in 650,000, people assume it won't happen.

      If you then draw one, the probability of drawing a royal flush must have been 100%. Rare events can never happen by pure random chance.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2012 @ 2:58pm

      Re:

      well, this is the real problem - three people in a row demonstrating a failure to understand probability!

      the fact that something did happen doesn't suddenly mean the probability should have been 100%

      the probability remains precisely the same, whatever the outcome.

      calculating the probability of an earthquake is difficult because we don't understand or know how to measure all the parameter which lead to earthquakes

      probability of 100% means no other outcome is possible

       

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    rasz, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Thsiwas NOT over something they failed to predict. Someone else predicted it, came out and warned people. Scientists in turn arranged a Press Conference and told people THERE WILL BE NO EARTHQUAKE, GO BACK TO YOUR HOMES.

    Do you see a difference between failing to predict and categorically telling people they are safe in homes?

    Small tremors happen often in this region and people always spend nights outside in case earth was moving. They didnt after that press conference because SCIENTISTS TOLD THEM THEY ARE SAFE.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:36pm

      Re:

      The guy who "predicted" it did so using junk science.

      The scientists convicted said "there's no scientific evidence to support these claims.

      Politician uses the report of those scientists to say "scientists say there's nothing to worry about."

      Do you see the difference between what you're saying and what actually happened?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      Thsiwas NOT over something they failed to predict. Someone else predicted it, came out and warned people. Scientists in turn arranged a Press Conference and told people THERE WILL BE NO EARTHQUAKE, GO BACK TO YOUR HOMES.

      Do you see a difference between failing to predict and categorically telling people they are safe in homes?

      Small tremors happen often in this region and people always spend nights outside in case earth was moving. They didnt after that press conference because SCIENTISTS TOLD THEM THEY ARE SAFE.


      Except that's not what happened. Scientists said "Hey, it's a low risk, but just to be safe, maybe you should shore things up a bit." And a government official read that report, turned around to the people and said "Hey, it's all good, nothing to worry about."

       

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      Shawn, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 3:17pm

      Re:

      Actually the scientists in question said that little earthquakes did not mean a big earthquake was coming, but that earthquakes were unpredictable. Following this report by scientists, a government official said there was no danger of a large earthquake.

      The people convicted here never stated there would not be an earthquake.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 6:42pm

        Re: Re:

        you would have to read the wording of what the scientist said..

        if he said "little earthquakes did not man a big earthquake"..

        instead of saying little earthquakes do not ALWAYS mean big earthquakes.

        the first statement your quote is wrong, because often little earthquakes DO mean a big quake is coming..

        that is not the same as saying little quakes did not mean a big quake is coming,, .... incorrect..

        scientists have to be as correct as they can be within their level of expertise.

        saying little quakes did not meak a big quake was coming is wrong..

        saying little quakes does not always mean a big quake is coming BUT OFTEN DOES MEAN A BIG QUAKE IS COMING.. is more accurate and correct.

         

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          orbitalinsertion (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 11:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You are playing with semantics. Poorly. And your facts are wrong.


          saying little quakes does not always mean a big quake is coming BUT OFTEN DOES MEAN A BIG QUAKE IS COMING.. is more accurate and correct.


          No, it means no such thing. Using "often" here is contrafactual and would be a lie coming from a scientist or government authority.

          "little earthquakes did not man a big earthquake".


          This is a perfectly valid statement.

          little earthquakes do not ALWAYS mean big earthquakes.


          A distinction without a difference.

           

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    Dave, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    "And, if anyone does, won't they now err on the side of "we're all going to die!!" even if the evidence doesn't support that?"

    Of course the ruling could be applied the other way. Said scientist writes a "We're all going to die"-report.. people panic and results in deaths.. Scientist charged with manslaughter.

    More chilling is it will cause a complete halt to all scientific reports.. why put anything in writing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    In Europe if you claim your factory or oil platform is perfectly safe, and that you have a good safety plan you got approved for it but never followed, you can go to jail for negligence. This would be the equivalent or throwing some BP execs in jail over the spill in the gulf a few years ago.

    But this case is clearly a big abuse and misuse of that law, there is no negligence in writing a scientific paper, especially one that didn't give the conclusion the media reported.

     

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    ShellMG, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Since some scientists believe God doesn't exist and that science has proven it, they've put themselves in the position of responsibility.

    Let's face it, lawyers have found it's a lot easier for process servers to deliver documents to those mortals rather than Zeus or God.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      Since some scientists believe Celestia doesn't exist and that science has proven it, they've put themselves in the position of responsibility.

      How the fuck does one even arrive at such a conclusion as this? This is beyond absurd.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        It's Nature Abhors a Vacuum combined with a God-Shaped Void. The nearest responsible party gets sucked in.

         

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    ChrisH (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    All this will do is create a disincentive for people considering the field of earthquake prediction. If that happens it will really help protect people from earthquakes! Great idea Italy.

     

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    ChrisH (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    I'd like to see this same legal theory applied to weatherman. Talk about creating new jobs...

     

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    ShellMG, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    Since some scientists believe God doesn't exist and that science has proven it, they've put themselves in the position of responsibility.

    Let's face it, lawyers have found it's a lot easier for process servers to deliver documents to those mortals rather than Zeus or God.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    This judgement is on the level of executing the late king's doctor. Primitive.

    Much more important in Italy -- indeed a massive, systemwide problem, that needs jail sentences -- is corruption in the enforcement of building standards. That costs real lives.

     

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    Thomas (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    Smart scientists...

    will stop making predictions. And if they HAD predicted an earthquake and nothing had happened, they would have been prosecuted for causing panic and possible manslaughter if anyone had been killed in the baseless panic. Glad I'm not a scientist predicting anything.

     

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    WTF, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    When did it become okay to send people to prison just because they fucking suck at their job...

     

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    ChronoFish (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    It's all fun an games until....

    This is the type of War on Science that we see from conservatives here in the US. Sure it's fun to mock Italy, but there is real hatred towards scientist who don't toe the party line.

    Environmental impact, global warming, fracking, evolution, GMO studies, rehabilitation vs incarceration, sex education...these are all issues and topics where the science runs counter to the Republican/Right-Wing platform. What better way to eliminate the message than to eliminate the messenger?

    -CF

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 1:58pm

      Re: It's all fun an games until....

      I agree with you about the US conservatives, but this is a specifically Italian fuck-up. Has more to do with problems in the Italian legal system than with conservatives.

      It is exactly like accusing a neighbor of witchcraft when someone gets sick. Which still goes on today in some parts of Africa.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Glad to see Italian leadership hasn't changed in the last 1200 years

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    The geologists said an earthquake was unlikely, under the circumstances.

    Having an earthquake then occur does not falsify the original probability. It is only one new data point. To know this probability was a mistake, you have to repeat the experiment a few hundred times.

    And if you could do that (say by the year 2500), there would be a consensus probability, it would be agreed by most scientists, it would form the basis for public policy, and disagreeing with it (done by a minority) would not endanger anyone.

    But lacking such a consensus, it appears that the judge is engaging in just the kind of cowboy risk assessment that he's accusing the geologists of.

    If such a scientific consensus does later emerge, then by his own logic, the judge is guilty of false imprisonment -- and not protected by any kind of professional shield for an honest mistake in the face of uncertainty.

    Or -- has such a consensus perhaps already emerged among geologists? That is, do the 5000 geologists who signed the petition believe not only that scientific opinions deserve protection, but that in fact, there was a low probability of a quake in the given situation?

    If so, then to be consistent, Italian justice must jail the judge for causing harm by misinterpreting a scientific statement.

    The only alternative would be to issue international arrest warrants for up to 5000 geologists in cities around the globe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 2:32pm

    Great. Now the Italians have to get their earthquake warnings from the vatican, instead of terrified scientists. How fucking dumb is a government allowed to be, before it should be criminal?

     

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      TheBigH (profile), Oct 23rd, 2012 @ 3:34pm

      Re:

      Actually, that's not as ridiculous as it sounds.

      The Vatican actually funds a lot of science. Also the Vatican is an independent nation, so it's not clear that scientists working for the Vatican could be persecuted under the dumb Italian legal system.

       

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    peter, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    I forecast

    that when the public no longer get any earthquake warnings, volcano predictions or even weather forecasts they will realise how dumb this is.

     

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    peter, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    I forecast

    that when the public no longer get any earthquake warnings, volcano predictions or even weather forecasts they will realise how dumb this is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 4:22pm

    I say good for the judge. Scientists claim to know everything, it's time they got called out on their lies and nonsense.

     

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    btr1701, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 4:56pm

    > Who will be willing to provide such a report in the future?

    Exactly. If I were an Italian seismologist, I'd put the government on notice that it has seen the last prediction from me, as I won't be risking prison time for failing to predict the unpredictable in the future.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 4:57pm

    Job Openings

    Science jobs available. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone????

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 5:00pm

    Foxy Rocksie?

     

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    AB, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 6:28pm

    So does this mean I really can sue the weather man when it rains on my picnic?

     

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    Zem, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 6:30pm

    It's all OK

    All the scientists have to do is enter politics and hold wild parties with teenage girls. Not only will they become immune to prosecution, it's way more fun than looking at siesmic charts.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 6:33pm

    the real problem is it does not matter what the scientist said if the courts want to go that way, the scientist is screwed.

    1, he says there is no great danger, big earthquake comes and is charged for manslaughter.

    2, he says "RUN AWAY" great danger, big earthquake does not happen, he is sued for the massive cost of the unnessary evacuation.

    scientist takes a line from homer Simpson..

    "Geezz, I would really love to want to help you"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 6:58pm

    "De Bernardinis, in particular, appeared on television saying that “the scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favorable”.

    That is his quote on TV.

    If it can be established that sometimes little quakes ARE a sign of an impending big quake, then you can argue that they scientists provided scientifically incorrect advice..

    it can easily be established that often big quakes start with smaller quakes before the big one, both before and after the main quake.

    To be scientifically correct they should of stated:

    Yes, it is a good sign that there are small quakes as SOMETIMES this will relieve the pressure and reduce the chance of a big quake occuring, BUT small quakes are also a precursor to a much large event.

    small quakes are non-indicative of the odds of a large quake occuring, take appropriate precausions. Earthquakes are unpredictable."

     

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      Some Guy, Oct 23rd, 2012 @ 2:47am

      Re:

      From the Ars Technica article:
      The town of L'Aquila sits on a major fault line, and had been struck by several swarms of small magnitude earthquakes. The Italian government had organized a risk-assessment committee, which included seismologists (including the former head of the National Institute of Geophysics) and government officials. In the week before the earthquake struck, the group told the public that the high incidence of smaller earthquakes were not necessarily precursors of a larger quake. They did, however, also mention that earthquakes were unpredictable, and that building codes in the area needed to be adjusted to provide better seismic safety.
      [Emphasis added.]

       

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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    I foresee a whole lot of future scientific reports consisting entirely of 'No comment'.

     

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    David Sanger (profile), Oct 23rd, 2012 @ 9:28am

    And what about the Church?

    I'm surprised they didn't charge the local Catholic Church for not being sufficiently prayerful, or for uttering ineffective prayers.

    Maybe they are next.

     

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    Pakistani Truth, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan

    An earthquake hits Pakistan and Afghanistan on 29th December 2012.

     

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