Shaking the Foundations of Science

Published November 7, 2012

An Italian judge has found seven Italian seismologists and geologists guilty of multiple manslaughter for failing to predict a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy. They recently were sentenced to six years in prison.

The seven were internationally prominent members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks and were alleged to have provided “inaccurate, incomplete, and contradictory” information about tremors. Prosecutors alleged L’Aquila residents were incorrectly reassured the quake wouldn’t be serious, but 309 persons died.

“The best estimate at the time was that the low-level seismicity was not likely to herald a bigger quake, but there are no certainties in this game,” said a U.K. scientist.

“If the scientific community is to be penalised for making predictions that turn out to be incorrect, or for not accurately predicting an event that subsequently occurs, then scientific endeavour will be restricted to certainties only and the benefits that are associated with findings from medicine to physics will be stalled,” said another.

Source: “L’Aquila quake: Italy scientists guilty of manslaughter,” BBC Europe, October 22, 2012 h/t Watts Up With That?