Saturday, October 27, 2012

Shaken, In Stir

It's one of the weirdest stories of the year

Six scientists and a government official were sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter by an Italian court on Monday for failing to give adequate warning of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in L'Aquila in 2009.

The seven, all members of a body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, were accused of negligence and malpractice in evaluating the danger and keeping the central city informed of the risks.


Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't this insane?  Scientists try their best to figure the future, but they (as yet) can never be sure about earthquakes.  I don't see how they can be held responsible in any way, much less criminally, if they did the best they reasonably could.  (For that matter, government officials pass programs trying to make life better--if they fail, you vote them out, you don't jail them.)

It does lead to certain intriguing possibilities.  Can I sue my local meteorologist if get hit by lightning in a storm that wasn't supposed to happen?  How about charging tarot card readers and other clairvoyants for not warning us about 9/11?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously are anti-science, anti-responsibility and anti-government, and probably you believe in tort reform.

You, sir, are a dangerous man.

(And aren't we quite close to jailing politicians? Ask Scooter Libby. Soon enough we'll be jailing candidates.)

4:01 AM, October 27, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fetish for accountability and measurable results-a business school thang-in action

6:29 AM, October 27, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too bad that this had to happen at the same time the pervy tax cheat Berlusconi was sentenced to jail. I'm sure he will use this bizarre miscarriage of justice to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Italy's criminal justice system in the court of public opinion.

11:01 AM, October 27, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lowering the Bar is great on this: http://www.loweringthebar.net/2012/10/seismologists-convicted-of-not-predicting-earthquake.html

6:45 AM, October 28, 2012  

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