Originally posted by humy
Seven scientists have been found guilty of the manslaughter of some 308 people following the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the city of L'Aquila in Italy on 6 April 2009. All seven have been sentenced to six years in prison.
The verdict comes afte mells suspiciously to me of vindictive persecution from the blame culture. What do you think?
I've been following this case for a while (it's been on our news).
The case is ludicrous and sets a hugely damaging precedent.
Who the hell is going to even try to make predictions if you can be prosecuted for getting it wrong?
What the scientists said in the meeting they held was that there was not any significant increase
in the probability of a major earthquake based on the number/size/frequency of the smaller earthquakes
that they had recently experienced.
The problem being that about as many small 'swarms' of earthquakes didn't build up to a bigger earthquake
as did making them highly unpredictive.
What they didn't say (but what the local official did say when he came out of the meeting) was that everything
was safe and that there wasn't likely to be a major earthquake.
The place was in the middle of some serious concentric rings on the earthquake risk maps and so had a permanent
high risk of a big damaging earthquake.
Which was just as likely to come completely out of the blue as it was to be preceded by a string of smaller quakes
as it was on this occasion.
Blaming the scientists (and what's more prosecuting them) for this is ridiculous which is why thousands of scientists
worldwide have petitioned against this.
What was wrong was the public messages put out to the locals by the local officials who either didn't grasp what the
scientists had told them or deliberately put a 'lets not induce panic' spin on things.
These messages did (likely) lead to more deaths as people were reassured and didn't do what they normally do which is
head for the hills and camp when lots of small earthquakes hit.
But the scientists didn't give these messages and didn't give that advice.
They were asked one simple question.
Did the earthquake swarm mean that they were more likely to be hit with a major earthquake?
The answer was that their data didn't show any significant correlation of the likelihood of a major earthquake with a
swarm of smaller quakes.
That was correct.
That shouldn't get them sent to prison.
EDIT: BBC version of the story.