http://youtu.be/Qujuo7BS2HE In 2009 an earthquake hit central Italy and killed more than 300 people. A pretty bad natural disaster. Except the courts think some people were responsible. Scientists, specifically, for failing to adequately warn people. Of a natural disaster. The sort of which there’s no reliable way to track. Yeah, it’s true. The court in L’Aquila convicted seven scientists to six years of prison each. They were all on the country’s Grand Commission of High Risks. In Italy, convictions aren’t considered solid until after they’ve gone through one level of appeals. Scientists across the globe are beside themselves with how ridiculous they believe this conviction is. The defendants themselves are extremely distressed over the verdict. “I thought I would have been acquitted. I still don’t understand what I was convicted of,” said Enzo Boschi, former head of the country’s Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. They were accused of giving inexact and contradictory accounts of seismic information, which confused the issue on whether or not a warning should have been given on the earthquake that eventually killed 300+ in the country. Many believe that this ruling, if not immediately overturned and expunged, would create a chilling effect on scientists and potential public officials, who now may be concerned that they will be held liable for events outside of their control. John Elliott from Oxford Universitysummed it up thusly:
Earthquakes cannot be predicted, and these scientists should not even have been on trial accused of providing incomplete information, because it is unfair to have expected them to have provided an exact and complete warning of an earthquake in the first place – this is something which is not yet credibly possible for earthquake science.
Question: Do you think they should have been on trial for this?