In 2009, seismologists were watching a series of tremors in L'Aquila, Italy. One local man, without any scientific background in seismology, started going around telling everyone that a big earthquake was on its way. This turned into a frenzy until the seismologists tried to calm everyone down, pointing out that this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. They pointed out that there was no evidence pointing to a big earthquake coming.
Well, a big 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit within the week, and left about 300 dead, and more than 60,000 homeless. The town was destroyed.
Six scientists and one government official were arrested and the trial began a year ago. The prosecutors argued that the scientists did not give a complete picture of the earthquake risk. The defendants argued that no one can predict with certainty when or if an earthquake is about to hit, and that they gave the best knowledge that was possible at the time.
The trial just concluded today, and they were found guilty of manslaughter. Each defendant is sentenced to six years in prison and to pay compensation and legal fees.
Here's the link:
I think it is completely insane, and Italy ought to be embarrassed They've definitely ruled away their right to call Americans stupid in the event that Romney wins the election. Although the experts should probably have been less casual and more honest about the uncertainties.
Heaven's above...I didn't warn people about that earthquake either!
I need to go into hiding...if the police find out about my involvement, I'll be labeled an international terrorist! I'm not going to a terrorist detention camp again, not after the last two times! Perhaps...perhaps if I turn myself in and give them the names of my partners in this most heinous crime, I'll get off easy?
No...I'm already too deeply involved in this. My hands are already blood stained, there's no going back now! I'm not going to back down! I don't care about the consequences! I shall continue to not warn people about natural disasters that will happen in the future! No...the potential is much greater than that. I won't warn people about any disaster! Heart attacks, plane crashes, industrial accidents, the works! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Teach them to get it right next time. Now we need to do that with weathermen.
That's not fair. In order to prove that they're guilty of manslaughter, it's not just a question of whether they are wrong, it's a question of whether they were neglegant. IE whether or not they had the necessary knowledge to be able to predict it, and got it wrong still. They didn't. They couldn't have known. They gave the best possible answer they could, based on the knowledge they had.