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pov
Oct 26th, 2012, 09:45 PM
http://www.helium.com/items/2385344-italian-scientists-convicted-of-manslaughter-for-failing-to-provide-quake-warning

Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict 2009 earthquake

A recent court case rocked Italy and shot shock waves around the globe: seven scientists were found guilty and culpable of manslaughter for not correctly predicting an earthquake that struck central Italy during 2009 and caused much damage, especially to the city of Marciano in L'Aquila.

The violent 2009 Abruzzo temblor resulted in the death of more than 300 people and caused massive property damage.



Not since the trial of Galileo Galilei by the Italian court of Inquisition has an Italian court's findings on a scientific matter been so egregiously wrong. And perhaps not since Galileo's trial has a legal proceeding struck such raw fear into the hearts of the scientific community at large.

The hapless scientists, who argued they were not soothsayers and the science of earthquake prediction is not based on psychic powers or the ability to accurately foresee when and where earthquakes will occur, were nevertheless slapped with jail terms of six years by the enraged judge.

Italian State prosecutors accused the scientists of "incomplete, imprecise and contradictory" statements about the earthquake that killed so many victims.

All the scientists are well-known by earthquake experts around the globe and some are very prominent experts in the field. Each of the convicted are also members of Italy's National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks (NCFPMR) that seeks to determine the likelihood of natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and help to limit loss of life from such catastrophes.

Although Italian court convictions are not acted upon until at least one appeal has been made and the scientists are not being whisked off to jail immediately, the judgment has created anger and some fear amongst the community of seismologists, geophysicists and geologists worldwide.

The Denver Post, quoting seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, California, wrote: "It's a sad day for science. [The judgment is] unsettling."

The reaction to the verdict by some of Italy's top earthquake experts was to resign from NCFPMR including Luciano Maiami, previously the director of CERN's particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

Quoted by one of Italy's largest newspapers—Corriere della Sera—about his resignation, Maiami said, "These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests, they had always said that it is not possible to predict an earthquake. It is impossible to produce serious, professional and disinterested advice under this mad judicial and media pressure. This sort of thing doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."

How this will affect scientists who are asked to give their opinions to the Italian government in the future? "This is the end of scientists giving consultations to the state," he declared.

"Mauro Dolce, head of the Civil Protection's seismic risk office, also resigned," states the Atlantic Wire, "and the rest of the committee will soon do the same. One of those members, Roberto Vinci, said he resigned 'to show support for those who, perhaps having reacted with a certain naivety and certainly under great pressure, have been accused of manslaughter.'"

Many scientists expressed their concern and outrage through email, across social networking sites, and tweets on Twitter. CNN reported the head of seismic hazard and archives at the British Geological Survey Roger Musson, spat out this tweet: "It's chilling that people can be jailed for giving a scientific opinion in the line of their work."

Sam L
Oct 26th, 2012, 09:55 PM
This is beyond silly.

Javi.
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:09 PM
This world is getting crazy :hysteric:

Sammo
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:30 PM
These people are retarded

Bijoux0021
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:36 PM
:facepalm: :help:

Yoncé
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:44 PM
What a joke :tape:

ivanban
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:53 PM
I could maybe, just maybe understand if this fuckery happened in Turkmenistan or Vanuatu, but Itally....:facepalm: Beyond bizarre :help:

OTOH, having in mind that today they sentenced Berlusconi to 4 years in jail and then lowered it to just 1 year in the very same day....I'm not so surprised :spit:

edificio
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:56 PM
Unbelievable.

saint2
Oct 26th, 2012, 10:59 PM
Well, accusing them for "manslaughter" is beyond dumb...But these "scientists" should never ever find a job in their profession if they can't do it properly.

KournikovaFan91
Oct 26th, 2012, 11:01 PM
Geology lecturer told us this the other day I was shocked.

I mean this is ridiculous, I hope there is some way they could get out on appeal.

Despite advances in technology, earthquakes and volcanoes can't be exactly predicted even still. Its the earth after all it just does its thing whenever.

Sammo
Oct 26th, 2012, 11:01 PM
I mean, accusing them of manslaughter? Seriously WTF?

. One of those members, Roberto Vinci, said he resigned 'to show support for those who, perhaps having reacted with a certain naivety and certainly under great pressure, have been accused of manslaughter.'"


Lol

KarlyM*
Oct 26th, 2012, 11:07 PM
:facepalm:

pov
Oct 27th, 2012, 02:01 AM
When I did the OP, I did it because I thought it was hilariously silly. But then I came across the following article which tells what happened.

http://world.time.com/2012/10/24/the-aquila-earthquake-verdict-where-the-guilt-may-really-lie/

The Aquila Earthquake Verdict: Where the Guilt May Really Lie

When a judge in Italy ruled Monday that seven experts were guilty of manslaughter for having failed to adequately warn citizens in the city of Aquila of a major earthquake, the verdict was met in the courtroom by stunned silence. Internationally, it was greeted with outrage. Scientists claimed that science itself was on trial. Columnists compared the conviction, in which each man was sentenced to six years in prison, to the persecution of Galileo. In Italy, on Tuesday, the head of the country’s disaster management agency resigned in protest. But whatever one thinks of the judgment–and there are more reasons than not to be concerned–the greatest danger may lie elsewhere: that anger over the verdict will distract from the very real lessons the case has to offer.

At issue is a meeting of the seven defendants, then members of a board called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, in Aquila on March 31, 2009. Small tremors had been rocking the area for months, light shocks that rattled buildings and sent frightened citizens into the streets. To make matters worse, a local resident who wasn’t a scientist was using an unproved method of earthquake prediction, analyzing concentrations of radon gas to forecast the time and place of tremors. His findings–which proved unfounded–were being picked up by the local media, adding to the sense of panic.

It was into this environment that the Italian government called the seven defendants, top men in their field, to a rare meeting outside of Rome. It was to all appearances more of a publicity move than a real scientific evaluation. Later, the Italian Daily La Repubblica would publish a wiretap transcript in which top government official can be heard describing the meeting as a “media operation.” We want “to calm down the public,” he says, speaking the day before the gathering. “And instead of you and me…we’ll have the top scientists in the field of seismology talking.”

After the meeting, the government official on the commission gave a statement to the media. “The scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy,” he said. “The situation looks favorable.” Six days later, the city was struck by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. The shaking was felt in Rome, a two-hour drive away. Aquila’s historic city center–one of Italy’s largest–was devastated. More than 300 people were killed. Another 1,600 were injured. Thousands were left homeless. “They calmed the public by saying there was no danger when it wasn’t true,” says Antonio Moretti, a seismologist at the University of L’Aquila, who lost his house in the quake. “It’s not that they didn’t predict the earthquake. It’s that they said something they shouldn’t have.”

Indeed, what the government official had told the press turned out to be completely wrong. The discharge of energy isn’t a sign of decreased risk. It’s an alarm bell. In normal times, the statistical risk of a major earthquake in a given week along a fault-line like that in Aquila is something like one in 100,000, according to Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California and the author of a report on the Aquila quake commissioned by the Italian government. But when the ground starts to shake frequently, as it did before the major tremor struck, the chance soars that a disaster is on its way.


Had the scientists in Aquila consulted statistical earthquake models–not a common practice at the time in Italy or elsewhere–they would have found that the risk of a major quake that week had risen to somewhere around a 1% chance or possibly a couple of percentage points higher. Had that figure been properly communicated, it’s a fair bet that many residents of Aquila might have left their homes. After all, few people would board an airplane, for instance, if they knew they had a 1-in-100 chance of not arriving safely. “Italian custom is that if you feel an earthquake, people will self-evacuate for about 48 hours,” says Jordan.

For now, the seven defendants are not headed to jail. “In Italy, a first conviction is seen as provisionary,” says Markus Wiget, an expert in Italian penal law. Nearly all major cases are appealed and as many as half see the sentences overturned or modified during the process. The defendants, will however, be liable for some $10 million in damages. “It’s taken for granted that we will appeal,”" says Francesco Petrelli, the defense lawyer for one of the accused. Adds Jordan: “The government was biasing its comments to be on the reassuring side to counter the inflammatory predictions that were being made. But I don’t see the fingerprints of the scientists on that.”

In the meantime, the question is whether Italy, and indeed the rest of the world, will begin to learn from the mistakes in Aquila, encouraging residents and communities in earthquake zones to tune up their building codes and evacuation plans. Jordan’s report, which recommends that governments work to provide citizens with clear information on the probability of a major earthquake, has been translated into several languages, including Japanese and Chinese. “The report has been making a big impact worldwide,” says Jordan. “I’m optimistic that the coverage that this trial is getting will help motivate people to make some important changes.”

Melly Flew Us
Oct 27th, 2012, 09:32 PM
i don't know the facts but i think that this is a cover for shoddy building construction.

happy to be proved wrong...

Novichok
Oct 28th, 2012, 12:09 AM
:facepalm:

Alizé Molik
Oct 28th, 2012, 02:09 AM
That second article still doesn't make any sense. It seems to be saying if they had used a process that nobody used at that time then they would have reached a more correct result.

It doesn't matter what their job was, there is no causal link between the occurance of an earthquake that might kill people and any person's action. You can't hold people criminally liable for acts of nature. It's even more ridiculous if they are indeed liable to pay $10m damages. What is that for? For the damage caused by the earthquake?? How could a prediction stop buildings from being damaged??

Steadyniacki
Oct 28th, 2012, 03:57 AM
What the fucking fuck.

ivanban
Oct 28th, 2012, 02:10 PM
That second article still doesn't make any sense. It seems to be saying if they had used a process that nobody used at that time then they would have reached a more correct result.

It doesn't matter what their job was, there is no causal link between the occurance of an earthquake that might kill people and any person's action. You can't hold people criminally liable for acts of nature. It's even more ridiculous if they are indeed liable to pay $10m damages. What is that for? For the damage caused by the earthquake?? How could a prediction stop buildings from being damaged??

I agree.

But, also, if they didn't know for certain if danger of big earthquake is big - why did they say to citizens to calm down because there is no danger?! Couldn't they simply say that they don't know how great danger is?!

Suddenly, this doesn't seem so naive to me :confused: IMO sentencing them to jail is way out of the order but they should certainly lose their jobs for giving people false hopes even though they weren't certain about the extent of danger

Alizé Molik
Oct 28th, 2012, 02:47 PM
I agree.

But, also, if they didn't know for certain if danger of big earthquake is big - why did they say to citizens to calm down because there is no danger?! Couldn't they simply say that they don't know how great danger is?!

Suddenly, this doesn't seem so naive to me :confused: IMO sentencing them to jail is way out of the order but they should certainly lose their jobs for giving people false hopes even though they weren't certain about the extent of danger

What I can't find in any article is whether the scientists were charged because they failed to predict the earthquake or because of the incorrect advice. Either way I think blaming individuals for a natural disaster is insane.

I think this speaks more to the serious issues the judiciary has in Italy. They are thinking like politicians scape-goating rather than applying the law and exercising judicial power in a proper way.

Mateo Mathieu
Oct 28th, 2012, 03:04 PM
What the fuck? :unsure:

Whitehead's Boy
Oct 28th, 2012, 03:58 PM
why did they say to citizens to calm down because there is no danger?!

That's not what they said. They never said that there was "no danger". A bunch of scientists in a earthquake-prone country would never say such a thing.

According to this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/23/italian-scientist-earthquake-condemns-court

But Eva insisted neither he nor his colleagues had given any reassurances in their brief, 40-minute meeting. "We always maintained it was not possible to predict or exclude an earthquake," he said.

And this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20097554

The scientists met, they did a risk assessment and they concluded there was an increased risk but the absolute risk was very low. They concluded they couldn't be confident there would be an earthquake. However this afterwards got communicated and understood by the public as a message that they could be confident there could not be an earthquake… that's what people understood and that's what has led to this court case.

Bottom line, the risk, even increased, was very low. There was no reason for people to suddently leave their home, since the risk didn't significantly change from one category to another (from, let's say, very low to medium). If some people assume from that there could not be an earthquake, it just means some people are dumb. How can the risk be zero in a earthquake-prone country?

Whitehead's Boy
Oct 28th, 2012, 04:18 PM
Had the scientists in Aquila consulted statistical earthquake models–not a common practice at the time in Italy or elsewhere–they would have found that the risk of a major quake that week had risen to somewhere around a 1% chance or possibly a couple of percentage points higher. Had that figure been properly communicated, it’s a fair bet that many residents of Aquila might have left their homes. After all, few people would board an airplane, for instance, if they knew they had a 1-in-100 chance of not arriving safely. “Italian custom is that if you feel an earthquake, people will self-evacuate for about 48 hours,” says Jordan.

I don't know if this is true, but let's assume it is....If it's not a common practice worldwide, then it means those scientists are not guilty of negligence.

jetglo
Oct 29th, 2012, 09:14 AM
You can imagine the deafening silence amongst the scientific community in Italy the next time the Government wants "advice". "Sorry, I have no opinion, I can't afford the insurance or to do the jail time."

There's so much time wasted already due to the necessity to cover ones ass from others completely unrealistic expectations.

pov
Oct 29th, 2012, 04:10 PM
That second article still doesn't make any sense. It seems to be saying if they had used a process that nobody used at that time then they would have reached a more correct result.

For me, the point in the second article is :
After the meeting, the government official on the commission gave a statement to the media. “The scientific community tells me there is no danger, because there is an ongoing discharge of energy,” he said. “The situation looks favorable.”

In other words, one or more of these scientists asserted that there was no danger. Since they acted as soothsayers and told people there was no danger, the charges make more sense to me. They aren't really being charged for not predicting an earthquake, they are being charged for predicting that there was no danger of an earthquake.

ivanban
Oct 29th, 2012, 10:08 PM
Bottom line, the risk, even increased, was very low. There was no reason for people to suddently leave their home, since the risk didn't significantly change from one category to another (from, let's say, very low to medium). If some people assume from that there could not be an earthquake, it just means some people are dumb. How can the risk be zero in a earthquake-prone country?

No, bottom line is the way how message from their scientific meeting got communicated to the general public. From the text you provided it says "afterwards (their meeting) got communicated and understood by the public as a message that they could be confident there could not be an earthquake… that's what people understood and that's what has led to this court case." That means general public thought that there is no greater danger than usually and no need for caution.

If these scientists were not satisfied with the way how it was communicated and understood by the general public then they should have intervened and give a clear and precise official message