Predicting the movements of the earth...

Anne Dalke's picture

This NYTimes article caught my eye, mostly for its assumptions about predictability (and human responsibility for geological events):
"Seven prominent Italian earthquake experts were convicted of manslaughter on Monday and sentenced to six years for failing to give adequate warning to the residents of a seismically active area in the months preceding a fatal earthquake that killed more than 300 people...."

Comments

Srucara's picture

Regardless of whatever the

Regardless of whatever the cirumstances may have been in which these 7 scientists had chosen to give or withhold certain information to the public and what their deeper intentions may have been, I think it is a bit harsh to put the responsibility of an earthquake on the shoulders of 7 scientists. Indeed - humans must be supportive of each other and work together to share our unique talents and responsibility for the better good - but how long are we going to search for people to blame and then blame them for every unfortunate event and punish them in the name of "justice" in order to feel better and to increase already rampant fear within our communities.

mtran's picture

Dealing with the unpredictable

Sentencing scientists for not being able to give warning about an earthquake which came after a series of small quakes? Ridiculous as the conviction might sound, in my opinion it is in some way reasonable. I believe in the benefits of the "culture of prevention". Since it is widely accepted that nature is unpredictable, we should be prepared to deal with its unpredictability. They argued about the appropriateness of a public warning, which in many cases could do more harm than good. However, I think that the eventual outcome - the long-term condition of the community, not the short-term harmony, is the priority of the authorities. They should be responsible for the consequences they could have prevented if they had not hesitated at the culture of prevention. Even though the prediction might be wrong and experts might also be criticized, the cost would still be much lower because the loss can be under humans' control.

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