/ Science was trialled and sentenced in Italy

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
EeeByGum - on 22 Oct 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20025626

"Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L'Aquila."

A bit worrying this. Maybe we should consult the local fortune teller next time an earthquake is in the air?
Philip on 22 Oct 2012
This is quite typical in Italy. Usually scientists are held under house arrest, and only pardoned hundreds of years later.
victim of mathematics - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I've used Italian data to do science recently. Does this mean I'm going to jail? Sadface.
davidbeynon - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to victim of mathematics:

Only if you failed to predict something that nobody knows how to predict and somebody notices.
ERH - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

This is absolute BS and the people who placed this charge should be dragged out and thrown to the lions
davidbeynon - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to ERH:

Then I could be arrested for not predicting that they would be thrown to the lions!
thin bob on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
My insurance pol;icy says that earthquakes are an 'Act of God'....

There is a religious group called The Church of Christ, Scientist
.
.
.
.
.Hmmmmm.......


JJL - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Bonkers.

At least it's not just the brits with bonkers sentencing.
remus - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: Does anyone know precisely what the scientists said?
Jimmy O - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: I may have my facts completely wrong here but I was under the impression that the reason these people have been convicted is not because they failed to predict the (currently) unpredictable but that they actually led the inhabitants of the town to believe that there was not going to be a big earthquake in the region.

Do we know what they actually said at this meeting? My guess is that this might come down to bad communication. A scientist says something along the lines of, for example, 'we have no evidence to suggest that there will be a…', and the general population interpret as 'there is no chance of …'.
Enty - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I bet Michael Fish is shitting it....

E
davidbeynon - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to Jimmy O:

About all you can do is say how likely there is to be an earthquake. Even in high risk area it's not particularly likely that there will be one on a given day, so if they are asked if the town will be shaken to the ground tomorrow then "probably not" is the right answer.
Jimmy O - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon: Completely agree. Just trying to find some logic in an otherwise incomprehensible situation.
lowersharpnose - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:

I thought that there were tremours and the science team said 'Nothing to worry about'. This reassurance meant that folk stayed in their houses, rather than evacuate. Some of these people died.

steve taylor - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I heard a bit about this on R4 this afternoon. Apparently one of the group, who isn't a "scientist" played-down the potential impact of the earthquake on Italian TV, and now a whole group of siesmologists are being blamed for his comments.

I'm sure there's more to it than that, but Michael Fish should have been given life following the same logic.
Coel Hellier - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to Jimmy O:

> A scientist says something along the lines of, for example, 'we have no evidence to suggest that
> there will be a…', and the general population interpret as 'there is no chance of …'.

Yes, as just above, it's along those lines. The scientific committee declared a properly worded statement. A civil servant then, at a press conference, tried to reassure the public by telling them not to worry and that there was nothing to worry about. The scientists didn't openly contradict this statement (though neither did they explicitly support it). As a result both the civil servant and the scientists have been blamed.
davidbeynon - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to lowersharpnose:

Yep. Tremors aren't that rare, but large earthquakes are. These sorts of thing tend to follow what they call a "power law distribution", where you get large numbers of small events, rarer medium sized events and very rare huge events.

Sometimes medium sized tremors follow huge earthquakes but more often they follow nothing in particular happening at all and there is currently no way to tell.

Now the probability of a big earthquake in the lifetimes of the people living there was quite high. Maybe they should have moved.
pebbles - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon: its the sort of judgement you might expect from a scientifically illiterate village priest, but not the regional court of a modern country.
krikoman - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
>
> Only if you failed to predict something that nobody knows how to predict and somebody notices.

Yer what's this weeeks lottery numbers - or else.
Ava Adore - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Philip:

Don't the houses get a bit smelly?
ads.ukclimbing.com
timjones - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to victim of mathematics)
>
> Only if you failed to predict something that nobody knows how to predict and somebody notices.

I thought it was more a case of stating that something wouldn't happen when it was a possibility?
gethin_allen on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
From the analysis on radio 4 (the source of all reliable information) The scientists in question said that experiencing tremors does not mean that there will definitely be a large earthquake but they couldn't be certain stating that the place is located on area of high seismic activity. whereas, the local bloke without the science background said that the tremors were a good thing as they were acting as a moderator, releasing the pressure in a controlled manner. This second opinion is exactly that an opinion and has not proper scientific basis.
What this bloke said is what screwed them over.
My opinion on this is divided, he was in a position of responsibility and he messed up, potentially contributing to the deaths of 300 people so he should be severely reprimanded for it. The scientists on the other hand didn't say anything that was not fact, I can't see how you can prosecute someone for stating scientific fact.

I imaging the next time anyone is hosting a press conference requiring scientific input they will struggle to find people to take part.

If the people had screamed from the rooftops "panic, panic, there's an earthquake coming" and then nothing had happened they'd probablly be being hauled over the coals anyway.
dissonance - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to gethin_allen:

> I imaging the next time anyone is hosting a press conference requiring scientific input they will struggle to find people to take part.

surprised if they will still get weather forecasts if this gets past the appeals.
lowersharpnose - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:

I have read a little more.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/a-seismic-crime

Italy’s National Commission for Prediction and Prevention of Major Risks, which comprised the seven men now on trial, met in L’Aquila for one hour on March 31, 2009, to assess the earthquake swarms. According to the minutes, Enzo Boschi, President of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, was asked if they were precursors to an earthquake resembling the one in 1703. He replied: “It is unlikely that an earthquake like the one in 1703 could occur in the short term, but the possibility cannot be totally excluded.”

The deadly earthquake struck within the week on 6th April.

How to communicate risk?
lowersharpnose - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to timjones:

He did not say that an earthquake would not happen. He said it was unlikely.

...and because it did happen within a week, does not make him wrong. Unlikely events are bound to happen, just less frequently than more likely ones.
Scarab9 - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

now on the 'suggested campaigns' on 38 Degrees on below link if anyone wants to add their support

http://38degrees.uservoice.com/forums/78585-campaign-suggestions/suggestions/3285420-free-the-italia...
Flinticus - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
This is totally mental. What will happen next? Will experts stop producing avalanche reports, weather reports, in order to avoid liability, or will each report simply say 'Deadly storms (or whatever event they are trying to forecast) may occur at any time, stay away (sorry, we cannot mentiom probability)'
davidbeynon - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Flinticus:

Well, there was a prosecution over being avalanched in italy last year wasn't there?
Flinticus - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Scarab9:
Support added
gethin_allen on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to Flinticus)
"Well, there was a prosecution over being avalanched in italy last year wasn't there?"

If it's the one I'm thinking of, wasn't that all about the fact that they were guided on a route and the guide didn't take adequate precautions to assess and mitigate the risk?
off-duty - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Haven't the Italian courts also just ruled that mobile phones cause brain cancer and (i think I remember) some judgement saying that the MMR jab causes autism there as well.
dissonance - on 23 Oct 2012
itsThere on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: more detail http://www.nature.com/news/shock-and-law-1.11643

"According to the prosecutor, such reassurances led 29 victims who would otherwise have left L’Aquila in the following days to change their minds and decide to stay; they died when their homes collapsed. The prosecutor thus reasoned that the “inadequate” risk assessment of the expert panel led to scientifically incorrect messages being given to the public, which contributed to a higher death count."
off-duty - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to dissonance:

The Italian legal system - the best justice money can buy ;-)
dissonance - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to off-duty:

> The Italian legal system - the best justice money can buy ;-)

still on the plus side a couple of years down the line we can look forward to the judge etc in the MMR case being sent to prison for life due to the deaths caused by lack of vaccination.
probably find a case against the mobile phone one as well.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: No other word adequately describes this other than "bollocks"

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.