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Thursday, October 25. 2012
First Galileo, and now this.
As you might have heard, a court in Italy has convicted seven scientists of manslaughter because they failed to predict an earthquake that struck some village and killed a bunch of people.
People living in non-earthquake-reinforced buildings in an area known for having violent earthquakes, I might add.
I think this sums it up pretty well:
More articles on this travesty of justice, sensibility and reason:
Italian court convicts 7 scientists for failing to predict earthquake
On the up side, I'm sure Galileo will be glad for the company.
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Safest prediction: Earthquakes will definitely occur, often unexpectedly.
Like JP Morgan when asked what the stock market would do: "It will fluctuate."
No, your CSN article does NOT sum it up pretty well. Try this for a more sensible capture of the prosecutor's position:
That's not to say I agree w/ the verdict, but your mischaractierization of the trial does nothing to further sensible discussion.
I do think the two committee members who frivolously participated in the ad hoc press conference were out of line, and were the ones who should have been held accountable. Probably not manslaughter accountable, but something.
"No, your CSN article does NOT sum it up pretty well."
It may not have summed up the trial well, but it certainly summed up the insanity.
"but your mischaracterization"
My mischaracterization? Crap, I included six links -- whudya want?
"insanity". That's exactly what your mischaracterization is, a mischaracterization. You'll never get answers if you ask loaded questions.
Why did they rule this way? It's not insanity, it's because you're refusing to see what they were prosecuting. Doesn't mean you'll agree with them, or you may recognize there is more to this situation than your preconceptions.
Six links parroting the same willful ignorance and cliched condescension? That's hardly meaningful.
Many of those links raised the same issues you and Indyjones did. You're not bringing up anything new here.
Then you must explain why you are willfully misrepresenting all of this.
This trial was NOT about predicting earthquakes. It was about the failure of paid professionals to do proper and adequate risk assessment.
You've made a parody of all of this. So was this intentional lying on your part? Or do you just not understand things at this level of complexity?
According to the articles, they did a very thorough analysis. And, as expected with such an elusive subject, came to different conclusions. As more than one of the articles noted, if they had said, "Yep, looks like the big one could be here at any moment!", do you REALLY think they would have evacuated the town? And what if they had, and no quake had arrived? Think they're going to evacuate the next time the little boy cries wolf?
This was a witch hunt, pure and simple, and for you not to recognize it either shows a remarkable idiocy on your part or you're just trolling for effect.
And you continue w/ the straw man that this was about predicting the earthquake. That's simply dishonest when you look at what got prosecuted.
"Witch hunt"? Only if you refuse to accept what really happened.
I have followed this for a few days over at Vox Days blog. One conversation between and engineer and a scientist mentioned that an engineer is liable for his expert advice. How many scientists are liable for their expert advice. I do believe that the scientists in this story led the people in this village to ignore any danger. The villagers normaly slept outside after earthquakes until they were fairly sure there would be no more. In this case the scientists misled them by saying there wasn't a likelyhood of another earthquake. MISTAKE!! When they give their expert opinion they are assuming risk. Maybe the climate scientists should pay attention. If your expert predictions are false you may end up paying the costs associated with wastful spending on the climate change agenda. Engineers are worth their weight in gold and are liable for their opinions. If scientists are not liable for their expert opinions then they are just a dime a dozen and really need to find a useful job.
My very first thought after hearing the verdict was of the warming-mongers. Entire nations are being destroyed because of what these people have spouted as fact.
String 'em up, I say. Can I borrow your lamppost?
It's the warmist attitude that caused this verdict. The whole "precautionary principle" idea leads people (including courts apparently) to believe a scientist should 1) know everything, 2) scream about impending doom and disaster if "nothing is done NOW" if there's so much as the tiniest indication that something might happen somewhere at some point in time.
What's really got them upset is that they can't blame the Catholic Church this time.
It was an appalling decision.
What's next? Prosecuting weathermen for storm deaths?
It will be interesting to see if there are ever anymore earthquake predictions for Italy?
And Galileo's reply still pertains:
"Eppur, si muove."
Nonetheless, it moves.
So if I'm reading all this correctly, the scientist should have said something like this: "We really can't tell. The buildings are 300+ years old, before building codes, and there's no way to evaluate their safety. You've been here all your lives; what do you think? It could be wisest to camp out on the uphill slopes above town."
Doc T, would you agree with this, or not?
That would have been fine. Or even, "keep with your existing earthquake safety measures."
Which included leaving the buildings for significant tremors.
Instead, what was said? "Have a glass of wine. Relax." And worse, this was the sentiment of one man, not the panel consensus. But, it's what people heard b/c it was said the loudest.
So, I don't agree with the verdict. But, being dishonest about the trial does no one, including scientists, any favors.
Nothing new, really. Folks have always been looking for "scapegoats."
In the middle ages, they blames Jews, Gypsies, and witches for their problems.
This time they found some scientists to scapegoat for their loved ones' death.
That a "court of law" went for this nonsense is what is seriously disturbing.
If i'm defending, i'm purchasing a few of those plaster-cast copies (of the 'original' plaster casts) and seating same in the courtroom, as exhibits for the defense. Then a reading from Pliny the Younger, concerning his uncle, Pliny the Elder, whose 37 volume work on the natural sciences is the largest such surviving from antiquity, and shows the his uncle as the foremost earth scientist of the ancient world, and tells how his uncle --in his other role as district military commander --watched the disaster's early (non-lethal) events unfold for some days with no alarm issued, and indeed when the actual killing event (pyroclastic flow) began, far into the natural sequence, his uncle the expert and authority was caught in it and died.
PS --Pompeii, AD 79, Vesuvius eruption, i should mention.
But also, there's Seneca, writing only a few years earlier, and from the court of Emperor Nero, criticizing area landowners for abandoning their works in the district, on the strength of a few earthquakes here and there.