Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

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Thread: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

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    Default Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Italian court convicts 7 scientists for failing to predict earthquake | Fox News

    Quote Originally Posted by Fox News
    L'AQUILA, Italy – Defying assertions that earthquakes cannot be predicted, an Italian court convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter Monday for failing to adequately warn residents before a temblor struck central Italy in 2009 and killed more than 300 people.

    The court in L'Aquila Monday evening handed down six-year-prison sentences to the defendants, members of a national "Great Risks Commission." In Italy, convictions aren't definitive until after an appeals trial, so it is unlikely any of the defendants would face jail immediately.

    The trial -- described in 2011 by a USGS scientist as "a witch hunt" -- sent shock waves of its own through the international science community.

    "It's a sad day for science," said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. `'It's unsettling."

    Tom Jordan, a seismologist with the University of Southern California (USC), chaired an international committee on earthquake forecasting convened in Italy following the 2009 quake. He agreed that scientists worldwide were rattled.

    “It’s widely viewed within the scientific community that this is an unfair result,” Jordan told FoxNews.com. "We can’t predict earthquakes. We can only forecast them with low probability."

    Among those convicted were some of Italy's most prominent and internationally respected seismologists and geological experts, including Enzo Boschi, former head of the national Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

    "I am dejected, desperate," Boschi said after the verdict. "I thought I would have been acquitted. I still don't understand what I was convicted of."

    "I consider myself innocent before God and men," said another convicted defendant, Bernardo De Bernardinis, a former official of the national Civil Protection agency.

    The trial began in September 2011 in this Apennine town, whose devastated historic center is still largely a ghost town.

    The defendants were accused in the indictment of giving "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether small tremors felt by L'Aquila residents in the weeks and months before the April 6, 2009, quake should have constituted grounds for a quake warning.

    The 6.3-magnitude quake killed 308 people in and around the medieval town and forced survivors to live in tent camps for months.

    Many much smaller earth tremors had rattled the area in the months before the quake, causing frightened people to wonder if they should evacuate.

    Prosecutors had sought convictions and four-year sentences during the trial. They argued in court that the L'Aquila disaster was tantamount to `'monumental negligence," and cited the devastation wrought in the southern United States in 2005 when levees failed to protect the city of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

    A defense lawyer, Filippo Dinacci, told reporters that the sentence would have "big repercussions" on public administration since officials would be afraid to "do anything."

    Relatives of some who perished in the 2009 quake said justice has been done. Ilaria Carosi, sister of one of the victims, told Italian state TV that public officials must be held responsible "for taking their job lightly."

    The world's largest multi-disciplinary science society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, condemned the charges, verdict and sentencing as a complete misunderstanding about the science behind earthquake probabilities.

    Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully.

    "Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake," reads a statement posted on the USGS website. "They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future."

    Jordan told FoxNews.com his report called for the creation of a a system that puts out information about earthquake risk on a regular basis, something he called "operational earthquake forecasting." Even the U.S. system is not ideal, he noted.

    "The scientists get caught between a rock and a hard spot in terms of trying to answer the question, 'will there be a big earthquake,'” he told FoxNews.com. The ruling could have a "chilling effect" on future communication efforts, he added.

    The verdict also calls for damage payments that could add up to hundreds of thousands of euros, Science magazine wrote.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    Really Italy? Really?

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Insanity. Why a court? That's like me failing to predict my incoming F on a test, when I thought it would be an A, and then get sentenced three years because of it. Crazy Italians. Take after their ancestors. They were cool, but insane. You know what I'm talking about.
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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    I was skeptical of this story actually being real. Now I know it is. Wowzers.

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Wow..... Just no... There is no way they can really be punished with anything, right? Please say so...

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Humanity takes another leap backwards... and the judges have insulted my proud heritige too >:(

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    This is ridiculous, really. Convicting 7 scientists for not being able to predict some powerful earthquake that killed a couple hundred innocent lives? Esta assurdo!
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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    I honestly cannot believe this. It's crazy. Having the potential ability to maybe do something (and even then with a small success rate) doesn't mean you should be punished if you don't. Especially not when the thing that follows and causes the issue is beyond your control anyway.



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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    That is absolutely ridiculous, the Italians really need to have a good look at its judicial system.
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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    And this is what happens when anti-science ignorance is allowed to rampant. Ignoring the entire scientific community in order to reach a conclusion that feels satisfying.

    Welcome back to the Dark Ages, Italy.

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Lousy scientists, not knowing everything. Never mind that they told us they don't know everything, that's no excuse for not knowing everything. Neither is quantum theory or how it overthrew determinism, you're supposed to know the future.

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    ...

    What...

    No one can predict what'll happen! It's like predicting you'll see rainstorm tommorow, and then you get grounded for being incorrect! What?!
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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    Quote Originally Posted by johnr754 View Post
    ...

    What...

    No one can predict what'll happen! It's like predicting you'll see rainstorm tommorow, and then you get grounded for being incorrect! What?!
    Yep, that's pretty much the problem. You cannot predict an earthquake, not with the help of today's technology. Maybe in the future, but not in the present day.
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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    I thought I read somewhere that the problem isn't that they merely "failed to predict an earthquake," but that someone predicted a major earthquake using a "flawed method," these people said "lolno" and downplayed the threat, and the earthquake happened anyway.

    Considering everyone's saying "you can't predict an earthquake," it seems every dadgum method is "flawed," so I don't know why they put that in there (emphasis? Didn't realize the redundancy? ), but if whatever I read was true, then it's not like they were convicted for staying silent (not that I agree with the convictions, though).


    ...Actually, Wikipedia says the same thing:
    "Italian laboratory technician Giampaolo Giuliani predicted a major earthquake on Italian television a month before, after measuring increased levels of radon emitted from the ground. He was accused of being alarmist by the Director of the Civil Defence, Guido Bertolaso, and forced to remove his findings from the Internet (old data and descriptions are still online)."
    [...]
    "Predicting earthquakes based on radon emissions has been studied by scientists since the 1970s, but enthusiasm for it had faded due to inconsistent results."
    [...]
    "Boschi had called a major earthquake "unlikely", while not entirely excluding the possibility. De Bernardinis had informed the public that there was "no danger". The prosecutors cited a scientific opinion that the low-level tremors ahead of the 6 April quake were typical of the seismic activity preceding major convulsions, but the defendants had classified them as a "normal geological phenomenon". They were criticised in court for being "falsely reassuring" and Judge Marco Billi gave them a six-year jail sentence on 22 October 2012, reasoning that they had provided "an assessment of the risks that was incomplete, inept, unsuitable, and criminally mistaken"."

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    Default Re: Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists for Failing To Predict Earthquake

    There is no way to predict the future. The best the scientists could do was attempt to pick up on the subtle signs of the early stages of the process. This is ridiculous. The act of doing something wrong is the definition of a crime, not the act of being unsuccessful at doing something right.

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