An Italian court has convicted seven earthquake scientists of manslaughter for their failure to properly warn the public prior to the L’Aquila earthquake.


Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

An Italian court has convicted seven earthquake scientists of manslaughter for their failure to properly warn the public prior to the L’Aquila earthquake.

The court also sentenced the men to six years in prison, which is two years more than the prosecutor recommended.

The more I have read about this case, the less I have been in sympathy with the scientists. While it is absurd to expect any scientist to be able to precise predict the occurrence of an earthquake, in this case some of the individuals convicted had issued statements that actually go against basic earthquake science in order to give the public a false sense of safety. They claimed that the increased level of seismic activity suggested a reduction in the risk of an earthquake, when all research actually indicates the exact opposite.

Some additional details here.

Readers!
 

Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
 

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.
 

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.
 

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

3 comments

  • JGL

    Stupid and ignorant seem such inadequate words, dangerous and Galilean seems a better fit.

  • Patrick Ritchie

    From what I have read I don’t think this statement is accurate:

    They claimed that the increased level of seismic activity suggested a reduction in the risk of an earthquake, when all research actually indicates the exact opposite.

    See this source:

    http://www.ess.washington.edu/SEIS/PNSN/INFO_GENERAL/eq_prediction.html

    Even in areas where foreshocks are fairly common, there is no way of distinguishing a foreshock from an independent earthquake.

    Convicting 7 people of Manslaughter is likely to have negative ramifications throughout Italy, both in science and in public safety. Manslaughter is “a defendant intentionally puts himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable”.

    The city of L’Aquila has been largely destroyed by earthquakes twice in the past 500 years or so. While the public officials and scientists involved may have failed to translate that reality into a rational public policy, I fail to see how that translates to Manslaughter.

  • Research might point in both directions, but it does appear that at least one individual made unsubstantiated comments about the amount of risks that should not have been made. And that individual was part of a commission whose sole purpose was to tell the public what the risks were.

    At the same time, I agree that the charges and conviction are overkill. There are far better ways to deal with incompetence than prison.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *