Sunday, September 18, 2011

Italian scientists on trial

BBC reports:
Next week six scientists and an official go on trial in Italy for manslaughter over the earthquake in L'Aquila that killed 309 people two years ago.

This extraordinary case has attracted international attention because science itself seemed to be on trial, with the seven defendants apparently charged for failing to predict the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck on the night of 6 April 2009. ...

The signatories to the letter say the authorities should focus on earthquake protection, instead of pursuing scientists in what some feel is a Galileo-style inquisition. ...

The prosecution team said they never intended to put science on trial, that they know it is not possible to predict an earthquake.
There is more info in Nature mag.

The scientists are not on trial for failing to predict an earthquake. They were called to the town 6 days before Italy's biggest quake of the last 30 years, and asked for their professional opinions on evidence that a quake was imminent. If they presented the best available scientific info, then they should have no problem.

The scientists apparently assured the residents that there would be no quake. Some lives were saved by local officials who did not believe the scientists, and moved people to safer buildings.

If Galileo had presented the best available scientific info, then he whould have no problem either.

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