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Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake

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  • Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake

    Italian Seismologists Charged With Manslaughter for Not Predicting 2009 Quake

    Published May 27, 2011

    FoxNews.com

    Italian government officials have accused the country's top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people.

    A shocked spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) likened the accusations to a witch hunt.

    "It has a medieval flavor to it -- like witches are being put on trial," the stunned spokesman told FoxNews.com.

    Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), will face trial along with six other scientists and technicians, after failing to predict the future and the impending disaster.

    Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully.

    "Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake," reads a statement posted on the USGS website. "They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future."

    John Vidale, a Washington State seismologist and professor at the University of Washington, agreed that earthquake forecasting is simply impossible.

    "We're not able to predict earthquakes very well at all," he told LiveScience.

    "One problem is, we don't know how much stress it takes to break a fault," Vidale told the site. "Second we still don't know how much stress is down there. All we can do is measure how the ground is deforming."

    Not knowing either of these factors makes it pretty tough to figure out when stresses will get to the point of a rupture, and an earth-shaking quake, LiveScience explained.

    The seven scientists were placed under investigation almost a year ago, according to a news story on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) -- the world's largest general-science society and a leading voice for the interests of scientists worldwide.

    Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella said that the seven defendants had supplied "imprecise, incomplete and contradictory information," in a press conference following a meeting held by the committee 6 days before the quake, reported the Italian daily Corriere della Sera

    In doing so, they "thwarted the activities designed to protect the public," the judge said.

    Boschi's lawyer, Marcello Melandri, has been taking the news badly, reported the AAAS story. He was particularly stunned because -- despite of the near impossibility of predicting earthquakes Boshi had been indicating that a large earthquake would be coming, though he did not say when.

    Melandri told the AAAS that Boschi never sought to reassure the population of L'Aquila that there was no threat. On the contrary, the INGV head made it clear that "at some point it is probable that there will be a big earthquake."

    In addition to Boschi, those facing trial are:

    * Franco Barberi, committee vice president;
    * Bernardo De Bernardinis, at the time vice president of Italy's Civil Protection Department and now president of the country's Institute for Environmental Protection and Research;
    * Giulio Selvaggi, director of the National Earthquake Center;
    * Gian Michele Calvi, director of the European Center for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering;
    * Claudio Eva, an earth scientist at the University of Genoa; and
    * Mauro Dolce, director of the office of seismic risk at the Civil Protection Department.
    And yet, we have so many morons in this Country and on this site who scream at how unjust our Country has become, and that we, the Police, are nothing more than jack-booted Nazi's.

    Unreal.

    -V

  • #2
    Based upon the title, I was expecting this to be an Onion article.

    Comment


    • #3
      The scientific community should respond to this by saying, "You want to put us in prison for making a bad prediction? Fine. We won't make any predictions any more at all. You guys are on your own. Figure it out for yourselves from now on and good luck with that."

      Comment


      • #4
        These are the Europeans who are supposedly SO much more culturally advanced than us redneck, backwards Americans still clinging to our guns and religion. After all, it's only AMERICANS who have witch hunts!
        "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
        -Chris Rock

        Comment


        • #5
          Apparently Filippo Cecchi (1822–1887) developed a reliable method of predicting earthquakes and today's scientists fail to recognize his scholarly exploits.
          Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

          [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SgtCHP View Post
            Apparently Filippo Cecchi (1822–1887) developed a reliable method of predicting earthquakes and today's scientists fail to recognize his scholarly exploits.


            If he was alive and wrong, he'd be brought up on murder charges too!







            .

            Comment


            • #7
              This is ridiculous.
              Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
              Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Exodus259
                With storms like tornadoes or hurricanes, I could understand some degree of liability, especially with hurricanes.


                Seriously? Ever try to predict one of those things?
                I yell "PIKACHU" before I tase someone.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Too bad I can't sue meteorologists for being wrong about their weather predictions when I take comp or vacation days...
                  Originally posted by RSGSRT
                  We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
                  Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I hope you see the humor in this. But this idea is rather growing on me. I've never seen any seismologist speak with a sense of urgency or passion about predicting earthquakes. I've heard seismologists repeatedly say is the big one is coming, get your emergency supplies ready, we're still learning to predict them, we're drilling little counters along the faultine to study it better, I earned my PhD in earthquake science and I have a guest spot on the Discovery channel... Perhaps, in a twisted way, this could give them that fire in the butt.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GangGreen712 View Post
                      These are the Europeans who are supposedly SO much more culturally advanced than us redneck, backwards Americans still clinging to our guns and religion. After all, it's only AMERICANS who have witch hunts!
                      These are Italians, formerly human. Now, not so much.

                      Effette, metro, pathetic shadows of what was once the mightiest empire on the planet. Not worthy of respect on even the smallest level.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, that should shake up the scientific community
                        Today's Quote:

                        "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
                        Albert Einstein

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BTR1701 View Post
                          The scientific community should respond to this by saying, "You want to put us in prison for making a bad prediction? Fine. We won't make any predictions any more at all. You guys are on your own. Figure it out for yourselves from now on and good luck with that."
                          +1. Reminded me of the time where I was fixing a friends computer and after so many critiques from him I dropped everything and said: "if you can do the job better than me then do it yourself". He didn't bother me again until the job was done.

                          GangGreen, both the Europeans and Americans have their own strange ways.
                          Life is what you make of it

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the solution for these scientists is obvious: threaten the Italian government with the fact that there is another earthquake coming, and only they can tell when. They can't be imprisoned because they need to work on predicting the next big quake.

                            Originally posted by 11b101abn View Post
                            These are Italians, formerly human. Now, not so much.

                            Effette, metro, pathetic shadows of what was once the mightiest empire on the planet. Not worthy of respect on even the smallest level.
                            Maybe you should just go back to your "Amurrrica!" chants and Klan rallies.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fëanor View Post
                              I think the solution for these scientists is obvious: threaten the Italian government with the fact that there is another earthquake coming, and only they can tell when. They can't be imprisoned because they need to work on predicting the next big quake.
                              I don't know if you're aware of this or not, but the Italian system of "justice" is vastly different from ours. There's a case widely publicized now where one convicted of murder (on very shaky evidence) is now formally being charged with the crime of claiming innocence and for alleging misconduct by the police and prosecutors. Her supportive family members could also face prosecution for similar allegations.

                              In our country, defendants in criminal cases still have the right to defend themselves and to question "evidence" without the fear of prosecution. Thank God and the framers of the Constitution! It's hard to believe that this isn't the case, even in certain "enlightened" European countries like Italy.
                              "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                              Comment

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