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Seismologists sentenced to 6 years in prison after being found guilty of manslughter

  • #1
    Administrators, Computer Games Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 30,624 admin Mickeroo


    I can't get my head around this one at all.
    At the end of a 13-month trial, six scientists and one government official have been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison. The verdict was based on how they assessed and communicated risk before the earthquake that hit the city of L'Aquila on 6 April 2009, killing 309 people.

    Source: http://www.nature.com/news/italian-court-finds-seismologists-guilty-of-manslaughter-1.11640

    Nature have posted up a reaction to the verdict too:
    Despite the way the verdict has been portrayed in the media as an attack on science, it is important to note that the seven were not on trial for failing to predict the earthquake. As members of an official risk commission, they had all participated in a meeting held in L’Aquila on 31 March 2009, during which they were asked to assess the risk of a major earthquake in view of the many tremors that had hit the city in the previous months, and responded by saying that the earthquake risk was clearly raised but that it was not possible to offer a detailed prediction. The meeting was unusually quick, and was followed by a press conference at which the Civil Protection Department and local authorities reassured the population, stating that minor shocks did not increase the risk of a major one.

    Full reaction here: http://www.nature.com/news/shock-and-law-1.11643

    I think this sets a terrible precedent, predicting an earthquake isn't exactly an exact science as far as I'm aware. Surely there's a danger of putting scientists off doing risk assessements/predictions on natural disasters in the future which can't be a good thing.

    What does everone else think?


Comments



  • Will be overturned on appeal no doubt.




  • Absolutely outrageous and despicable.:mad: Earthquake prediction is a very difficult and nigh on impossible science. What about jailing the city officials who failed to retrofit their buildings to withstand an earthquake?

    It will be appealed and overturned - it doesn't make Italy look good in the eyes of the world either.




  • This is not a sentence for not predicting an earthquake, but a sentence for giving people positive assurances that nothing bad was going to happen.
    People in L'Aquila territory could have taken countermeasures if they knew that the situation wasn't safe at all.
    If the scientists had said that considered the past history of the region, the huge number of tremors that hit the area for almost two years, the presence of radon gas from the ground, the area was not safe and that it was possible that in the near future a powerful earthquake could hit the area, people could have chosen to leave the towns or adopt measures to save themselves.
    But people were reassured that everything was alright.
    The sentence is for how those scientists faced the problem.
    According to my opinion (and to Abruzzo people's opinion) they should be confirmed the sentence.
    You should listen or read the transcription of the phone calls between the chief of the Civil Protection Department and the officials of the region, and you'd agree with the judge and with me.

    We in Italy have the bad habit to underestimate the consequences of natural disasters, that's why we have a high number of victims every year for floodings, eartquakes, landslides, and so on.
    Sentences like this one should be a warning to other experts to do their job better.




  • This is not a sentence for not predicting an earthquake, but a sentence for giving people positive assurances that nothing bad was going to happen.
    People in L'Aquila territory could have taken countermeasures if they knew that the situation wasn't safe at all.
    If the scientists had said that considered the past history of the region, the huge number of tremors that hit the area for almost two years, the presence of radon gas from the ground, the area was not safe and that it was possible that in the near future a powerful earthquake could hit the area, people could have chosen to leave the towns or adopt measures to save themselves.
    But people were reassured that everything was alright.
    The sentence is for how those scientists faced the problem.
    According to my opinion (and to Abruzzo people's opinion) they should be confirmed the sentence.
    You should listen or read the transcription of the phone calls between the chief of the Civil Protection Department and the officials of the region, and you'd agree with the judge and with me.

    We in Italy have the bad habit to underestimate the consequences of natural disasters, that's why we have a high number of victims every year for floodings, eartquakes, landslides, and so on.
    Sentences like this one should be a warning to other experts to do their job better.

    These people live in an Earthquake zone!!!! There's always a possibility of an earthquake in an area on a plate boundary, it could happen at any moment in time from one mintue in the future to twenty years. These people have lived in this area for years and have taken that risk. If you live in an earthquake zone this is always going to be a risk.

    It's like living on the slopes of Vesuvius (which millions do) and then complaining you weren't warned when it erupts (which at least you can do with volcanoes to an extent). What could the scientists have done? They could say there might be an earthquake yes but there's always a possibility of an earthquake in this region of the world so what's the point of saying something that everyone knows already?




  • What people there did when there was a risk of earthquake was to leave their house and sleep in car / tent.

    Had the seismologists said nothing , or said they didn't know then it would have been fine.

    But they predicted that there would not be an earthquake, which of course can't be done yet.


    There is also a whole back story of corruption, and yeah they will probably get off on appeal, and those who build substandard buildings will probably get away with it too.


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  • As a couple of people have said, the sentence isn't for failing to predict an earthquake, but for failure to properly discharge their duty of warning the public.

    The seismologists, having determined there was an earthquake risk, left it up to their non-seismologist deputy head to communicate that to the public. He communicated instead that there was no risk, and the seismologists didn't speak up to correct that.

    All those concerned had a responsibility to the public, and failed in it.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw




  • These people live in an Earthquake zone!!!! There's always a possibility of an earthquake in an area on a plate boundary, it could happen at any moment in time from one mintue in the future to twenty years. These people have lived in this area for years and have taken that risk. If you live in an earthquake zone this is always going to be a risk.

    It's like living on the slopes of Vesuvius (which millions do) and then complaining you weren't warned when it erupts (which at least you can do with volcanoes to an extent). What could the scientists have done? They could say there might be an earthquake yes but there's always a possibility of an earthquake in this region of the world so what's the point of saying something that everyone knows already?

    The quake didn't arrived from nothing, didn't get people by surprise.
    There were many signals that something bad could be imminent, people were rightly worried about the situation, but they were told to stay calm.
    This is the error.
    What are those scientists and their bosses paid for?
    And even a volcano doesn't erupt without giving you a warning.




  • The quake didn't arrived from nothing, didn't get people by surprise.
    There were many signals that something bad could be imminent, people were rightly worried about the situation, but they were told to stay calm.
    This is the error.
    What are those scientists and their bosses paid for?
    And even a volcano doesn't erupt without giving you a warning.

    Earthquakes, unlike volcanoes, can pretty much strike without warning, or, rather, with much the same pattern of precursor activity as on other days leads to nothing.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw




  • What I can't understand here is why the scientists told everyone to stay calm? Predicting when earthquakes will or as in this case won't occur is as I previously said, nigh on impossible so why tell people to stay calm?




  • What I can't understand here is why the scientists told everyone to stay calm? Predicting when earthquakes will or as in this case won't occur is as I previously said, nigh on impossible so why tell people to stay calm?

    As far as I know, the scientists didn't - their Deputy Head handled the communication. The scientists' culpability was in allowing him to do so, and not correcting his message.

    In that sense, I can't help but feel somewhat that this is a good thing pour encourager les autres. Scientists should not shrug their shoulders and say "but we're not communication specialists, it's not our job" when someone higher up the chain misrepresents their work to the public or to government.

    cordially,
    Scofflaw


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  • If I were Evelyn Cusack I wouldn't apply for a job in Italy.


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