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Scientists convicted for not ‘predicting’ an earthquake…
Posted: 22 October 2012 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/world/europe/italy-convicts-7-for-failure-to-warn-of-quake.html?hp

Now that’s chilling.

Take care,

Derek

[ Edited: 22 October 2012 11:12 PM by harry canyon ]
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Posted: 23 October 2012 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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WTF?  ohh

Over the past decade, it seems the Italian government has had trouble living in the real world.

I wonder if this is the result of scientific ignorance and/or fear of science, or typical political corruption?

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Posted: 23 October 2012 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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harry canyon - 22 October 2012 11:09 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/world/europe/italy-convicts-7-for-failure-to-warn-of-quake.html?hp

Now that’s chilling.

Take care,

Derek

Shameful. I hope there is a way to reverse this decision.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Human beings by our very nature have a strong need for someone or something to focus blame upon when we suffer a loss ( who hasn’t curse and kicked the chair after we whacked our toe on the leg of it). Logic and reason has nothing to do with it as long as some link, even a weak one can provide us with a target for our grief. You see it all the time in civil cases in the U.S.. People think these are all about money and to some extent they are but its also about needing a focus for grief and anger which allows a person to say “if only” and then point the finger at someone.

Its a serious human failing that current legal systems do not adequately address and which we all pay a steep price for when it is allowed to run its course as it has in this case.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It almost sounds like someone is blaming the scientists for the failure in building codes which is the real reason behind the damage behind the earthquakes.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’m sure Berlusconi’s numerous right wing reigns as PM had something to do with this as well.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have not read the court transcript but maybe some one here might know….did the seismologists say…” there is NO chance that the volcano can erupt…no chance…go back home and relax….nothing bad will happen”.... If that was the case the scientists did have some responsibility in the deaths.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’ve been listening to the various reports on this, and first, it’s quite likely that the decision will be reversed on automatic appeal.  Second, I heard the translation of a statement one of the scientists made.  After the first set of quakes when their houses had already been somewhat damageed, he said to the people that it was safe for them to return to their homes.  They did so, and when the major quake hit some of them were killed.  I don’t think the other scientists should be blamed (unless they could have refuted his statement), and he shouldn’t be convicted of a crime, but he sure as hell should be fired from his job as a scientist for making such an unjustified statement.

While he couldn’t predict when the next quake would come, he definitely should not have predicted that it wouldn’t come.

Occam

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Posted: 23 October 2012 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 23 October 2012 10:07 AM

the translation of a statement one of the scientists made.  After the first set of quakes when their houses had already been somewhat damageed, he said to the people that it was safe for them to return to their homes. 

Occam

But there in lies the rub as they say. Any assertion that the scientist deserves some blame ( and I don’t agree that he does even if he said there was absolutely no chance) relies on an interpretation of what he truly said. Was it written down anywhere? or are we just accepting recollections from individuals who heard him say something and are now recalling it in hind sight? Did he say its 100% safe or 90%. Is it safe at the moment, for a week, for a month, for a year. A simple comment that its safe obviously does not mean there is a lifetime guarantee that no earthquake will ever occur so even if he did say or imply that there was zero chance of a big earthquake how long a period does there have to be no earthquake before he is off the hook for that prediction?

This case is utter BS not only because of the limits of what scientists can be expected to do and also because of the failure of any of the other people involved to take responsibility for their own actions, but the main reason it needs to be thrown out is because of the chilling effect it will have on scientific research and the ability of scientists to offer opinions that are essential to the big decisions we need to make. Can we go back in 30 years and sue the scientists who claimed global warming was all a lie when our cities end up underwater or should we instead blame ourselves for being stupid enough to listen to him instead of taking the advice of the scientists who were right?

A little personal responsibility for our own actions would do the world a lot of good.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Burn them at the stake for not being good witches.

psik

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Posted: 23 October 2012 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Apparently he made the statement on a TV interview so it’s documented.  However, the scientists did have some justification because there was some nut who was claiming to predict earthquakes down to the day or even hour, and they were asked to squelch him.

Occam

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Posted: 23 October 2012 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Occam. - 23 October 2012 06:27 PM

Apparently he made the statement on a TV interview so it’s documented.  However, the scientists did have some justification because there was some nut who was claiming to predict earthquakes down to the day or even hour, and they were asked to squelch him.

Occam

I was going to ask you if you had found a video of it but unless its got subtitles it wouldn’t be much use to me tongue laugh For what its worth, this quote from CNN paints the scientists as very reasonable.

Prosecutors argued that the scientists gave “inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory information about the dangers” facing L’Aquila at a meeting a week before the magnitude-6.3 quake. The experts determined that it was “unlikely” but not impossible that a major quake would take place, despite concern among the city’s residents over recent seismic activity.

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Posted: 23 October 2012 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Another quote from the same article makes the exact points I was making above..

“I can understand the grief of people who lost loved ones and the frustration that people feel when terrible events happen, especially ones outside their control,” Oglesby said. “Convicting honest scientists of manslaughter does nothing to help this situation and may well put a chill on exactly the kind of science that could save lives in the future.”

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Posted: 24 October 2012 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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macgyver - 23 October 2012 07:05 PM

“Convicting honest scientists of manslaughter does nothing to help this situation and may well put a chill on exactly the kind of science that could save lives in the future.”

Along those lines, see HERE:

Italy: Officials Quit Over Punishment of Quake Experts
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
Published: October 23, 2012

Several members of Italy’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks resigned Tuesday after the conviction of six scientists and a public official on manslaughter charges ...

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Posted: 24 October 2012 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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macgyver - 23 October 2012 11:07 AM

A little personal responsibility for our own actions would do the world a lot of good.

I think this is much more tricky than you think. (perhaps not in this specific case I dunno.)

If an expert gives me wrong advice and I take it, it seems the expert has some responsibility.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 October 2012 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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StephenLawrence - 24 October 2012 08:10 AM
macgyver - 23 October 2012 11:07 AM

A little personal responsibility for our own actions would do the world a lot of good.

I think this is much more tricky than you think. (perhaps not in this specific case I dunno.)

If an expert gives me wrong advice and I take it, it seems the expert has some responsibility.

Stephen

If you ask a physician iwhether you need to be concerned about an abnormal lump and the physician says don’t worry about it and it turns out to be cancer then yes you are right but if you ask a scientist to make a prediction about something that is inherently unpredictable and he gives you a risk assessment then his only responsibility is to give you the best risk assessment he can with the available data. A risk assessment is just that. Its a risk assessment not a guarantee. An event that has a 1/1,000 chance of occurring can still occur. If an expert says the event has a 1/1,000 chance of occurring or he converts that to a more understandable “unlikely event of occuring”, and then the event occurs the assessment wasn’t wrong. The expert is only wrong if he says the risk is zero.

There is a hurricane taking aim at the east coast of the U.S. as we speak. If NOAA predicts it will most likely miss us and then it veers off course and hits the coast are we going to imprison the meteorologists at NOAA?

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