On Trial For Manslaughter For Failing to Predict Earthquake

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by scheherazade, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    This is a very interesting article, in my opinion.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9593123.stm
     
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  3. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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  5. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    The next 5 scientists are going to be way more careful when it comes to earthquakes...
     
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  7. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    This whole idea of "responsibility" for failure to predict an earthquake is one of the MOST stupid things I've ever heard of!!!! The science involved is very, very much still in it's infancy.

    If these people are found guilty, there are only two possible things that can result from it:

    Every seismologist in Italy will quit their jobs OR the few that don't will predict one EVERY day just to cover even the most remote possibility.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!!!!

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  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    I wonder if this will lead to politicians going on trial for poor economic policies?
    Or lawyers going on trial for losing cases?
     
  9. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    10,296
    Yeah, those things would make just as much sense as determining science by court trials. :shrug:

    This current bit of "business" is hardly a half-step removed from the Spanish Inquisitions! :bugeye:
     
  10. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    I didn't predict it either.. am I guilty?
     
  11. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

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    Meteorologists better be careful too.
     
  12. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

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    Italian courts appear to be very silly any more. Maybe they are just trying to direct attention away from their finances.

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  13. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    Un-fucking-believable.
     
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    i wonder if the religious nuts will be held to the same standed?
    for instance those fruitloops who said the world would end a couple of months ago

    Should they be charged with fraud and damaging the assets of those stupid enough to belive them?
     
  15. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    The prosecution team said they never intended to put science on trial, that they know it is not possible to predict an earthquake.

    What they are questioning is whether the six scientists and the official on trial, who together constitute Italy's Commission of Grand Risks, did their jobs properly.

    That is, did they weigh up all the risks, and communicate these clearly to the authorities seeking their advice?

    Sounds reasonable to me. What's the problem?
     
  16. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Because everyone knows already that no one can know when an earthquake will actually take place or even about when one will happen. Knowing that already it would seem that the prosecution isn't trying to do anything more than "stir the pot" with their accusations for the media to have more nonsense to write about. Another waste of time if you would aslk most people, it shows that the prosecution is only "grandstanding".

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  17. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    According to the prosecution, the trial isn't about predicting earthquakes.
    It's about whether these people did their job.
    Their job wasn't to predict earthquakes, it was to assess the risk and communicate it appropriately.

    So, what's the problem?
     
  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    12,738
    It's a publicity stunt.
    To raise public awareness in order to get more funding for the town.
    It's working.
     
  19. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    It's a media beatup, twisting the story to make a good headline and sell "news".
    It's working.

    Compare:
    - Scientists tried over not predicting an earthquake? Outrageous!
    - Committee tried over poor communication of earthquake risk? Meh.
     
  20. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Because the scientists can't communicate something they don't know, that's a very unreasonable thing to ask of anyone. It would be like asking when the next hurricane will form. Although scientists can give us many answers about them they cannot predict when one will start up. So then do we put those scientists on trial because they couldn't tell us when a hurricane will form or just leave them alone so they can go about their duties and try to understand more about them? Perhaps with enough money to study the hurricanes one day they will be able to predict when they will form. That money is needed now but little money is being given to research the event better. The real problem is that not enough funding is available for scientists to do their work better so why not put the politician's on trial for lack of proper funding to the scientists instead? :shrug:
     
  21. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    10,166
    That's not a problem, because nobody was asked to communicate what they don't know.
    What was asked is very reasonable:
    - Assess the risk of earthquake to a reasonable standard
    - Communicate that risk to the people potentially affected

    This article at Nature indicates that the second item might not have been done:
    The prosecution has focused on a statement made at the press conference by accused committee member Bernardo De Bernardinis, who was then deputy technical head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency. "The scientific community tells me there is no danger," he said at the time, "because there is an ongoing discharge of energy. The situation looks favourable."

    This case seems to be about finding out why the risk wasn't communicated to the people.
     
  22. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    3,714
    The Italians are the religious nuts. Maybe they should be blaming god?



    What could the scientists be expected to communicate apart from "this place is known for earthquakes, there will be another one some day"?
     
  23. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    10,166
    Holy crap. I just Google "Commission of Grand Risks" to see if I could find any more detail, and cosmics post 13 in this thread (ie less than an hour ago) is the second hit!

    Information is ALIVE!
     

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