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[personal profile] vernard
Italian court indicts seven scientists and government officials for their failure to predict the severity and timing of last year's L'Aquila earthquake

I like to fancy myself a scientist. And not just because I have a degree or two that has the word "scientist" in its name. Its more a way of thinking and doing. Founded in the scientific method and balanced by true philosophy which is the art of applying logic.

Now as usual, the devil is in the details. They actual indictment doesn't really say that they could have predicted the actual earthquake, it says that they had enough indication that it was too dangerous NOT to evacuate. And therefore they were remiss in their duties and are responsible for the deaths of those that were caught by it.

however, its a slippery slope. And one I personally wish they would stay away from.

Reminds me too much of my own blasted country.


Thoughts?

Date: 2010-06-23 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mieper.livejournal.com
The Italian politicians (like any other politicians) are trying to have it multiple ways.

The guy mentioned in your link, Giampaolo Giuliani, wasn't just a random name. This guy claims to predict earthquakes based on radon gas emissions. Sometimes, he's pretty good; usually, he's not. He claimed to predict the L'Aquila quake, but was off by a week. You can't evacuate a whole city for a week (or more).

At any rate, Giuliani was apparently running around the town and yelling about an impending earthquake, so the local police told him to knock it off (older NYTimes articles). And then the quake did happen (a week late).

So now the politicians want to blame someone, and it's easy to grasp at straws, even straws-once-discarded-as-improbable.


I don't think this is (currently) similar to the bulk of government in the U.S. While there are definitely some loonies flinging pseudo-science and snake-oil, I think most of them are currently reigned in. However, I do believe that Congress far more easily influenced by dollars than real research.

Date: 2010-06-23 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cwjordan.livejournal.com
I remember that. I thought it was impressive he predicted it at all, and very sad he was told to cease and desist warning folks.

If his method was able to be refined to the point where it was as reliable as say hurricane path predictions, then you could start to base routine evacuations on it, otherwise it's not clear what to do.

Date: 2010-06-30 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ikitten.livejournal.com
Assuming indictments mean the same thing in Italian (but not presuming certain more familiar rights), it should be taken as more of a test of law in on the matter until conviction or acquittal (or whatever the Italian equivalent is). Which is kind of like the scientific method. But for crime.

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Vernard Martin

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