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Italian seismologists convicted of multiple manslaughter.

  1. Oct 22, 2012 #1


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    Looks like a good field to avoid in Italy. Especially in areas where mud-brick walls abound.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/italian-court-begins-deliberations-over-scientists-accused-of-failing-to-warn-of-earthquake/2012/10/22/8c4886bc-1c3d-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2012 #2
    Unbelievable. Perverse in the extreme. This from a nation where endemic corruption means people routinely escape genuine responsibility.
  4. Oct 22, 2012 #3


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  5. Oct 22, 2012 #4
    Absolutely and I would repeat what I said in that thread:

  6. Oct 22, 2012 #5


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    Scientists' culpability for disasters is not necessarily beyond the pale, but cannot be assigned to practitioners within "uncertain" sciences.
    There is a huge difference between the culpability of a structural engineer OKaying the building of a house he knows will fall down, and the culpability of a seismologist OKaying continued residence in a seismically active region.
    In the latter case, they cannot be regarded as culpable, even if it can be proven that at least one other expert advocated evacuation.
  7. Oct 22, 2012 #6
    Cultural perception is all very well, but these men have been sentenced to six years in prison. That is no longer a matter of culture, it is simply a matter of human rights.

    It doesn’t have to be that the engineer knows that the building will fall down. If he has simply been negligent about the possibility that the building might fall down, and it does fall down resulting in loss of life, then it is reasonable to hold the engineer responsible. Always the difficult one has to be the medical profession, but if a medical practitioner has been careless about the administering of treatment, and the treatment administered actually made the patient’s situation worse, then the medical practitioner is responsible and must face the consequences. I find no evidence that these men were in any way negligent. What happened was not caused by their carelessness, it was caused by the impossibility of anticipating the outcome with any certainty. As much as the possibility of it existed, you didn’t need to be an expert to anticipate it. In terms of any certainties, the experts were in no better position than the laymen. That is not negligence. What it is, is an appalling injustice.
  8. Oct 22, 2012 #7
    This is completely insane. I hope Italy realizes that no scientist in their right mind will ever join any committee tasked with making predictions from now on. If any do, they will have to be so overly-cautious as to cry wolf at every little thing for fear of getting it wrong. This may also discourage students from getting into science. Who wants to be arrested for something they had no control over?
  9. Oct 22, 2012 #8


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    I guess all Italian seismologists from now on should proclaim an Italian strike and all the time claim there will be an earthquake tomorrow.

    And no, it wasn't intended as a joke, even if it may sound like one.

    Makes me think about Linate Airport disaster, where one of the people convicted was the air traffic controller who have followed the procedure to the letter - but the procedure was full of dangerous holes.
  10. Oct 22, 2012 #9


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    Very important.
    They need to be proven criminally negligent relative to what we could call "standard science".
    A medical practitioner, for example, cannot be regarded as criminally negligent if NOT implementing a still highly experimental therapy.
    If that therapy has infiltrated itself WITHIN "standard science", and the practitioner still don't implement it, THEN he can be regarded as negligent.
  11. Oct 22, 2012 #10
    This is a dumb sentencing:

    I definitely agree.

    Hence, "contradictory information".

  12. Oct 22, 2012 #11
    A seismologist should never be OKaying anything IMO.
  13. Oct 23, 2012 #12
    So the next time the weather man says it's not going to rain and it does, and I get into a car accident because of the slippery road, I guess I'll sue the weatherman for lying to me
  14. Oct 23, 2012 #13


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    Only if you are Italian.
  15. Oct 23, 2012 #14
    Interesting. Was the press conference attempting to justify the arrest of the man who made the predictions based on radon gas, and if so did the scientists in question support his arrest?
  16. Oct 23, 2012 #15
    It comes down to the established standards of the profession concerned as well as intent. In the US, physicians can be found negligent in a civil trial and subject to monetary payment for damages. It's rare however for physicians to be subject to criminal prosecution for malpractice unless there was "gross negligence" (like being intoxicated when performing a procedure and causing injury or death). To win a malpractice case in the US (at least in theory) one has to show that 1) the practitioner violated professional standards 2) the patient suffered a demonstrable injury or death 3) the practitioner's violation of standards was the proximate cause of, or significantly contributed to the injury or death.

    As far as I know, there are no professional standards anywhere for predicting earthquakes, so there is no basis for comparison with the medical profession.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  17. Oct 23, 2012 #16
    Top Italy scientists resign in protest at quake ruling
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hgHYMt0RlaWTj9auQhUgx4ibC5wQ?docId=CNG.bffad396104a93be5f736ad6dfe206e9.5e1 [Broken]
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  18. Oct 23, 2012 #17
    That's sad, but probably the only way to address a fundamental flaw in the Italian legislation.
  19. Oct 23, 2012 #18
    Don't forget that if the patient failed to disclose a medical condition or allergy that the practicing physician did nothing wrong.
    I guess this means a lot of Meteorologist are going to be convicted of manslaughter for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Irene... While were at it lets throw in Hurricane Andrew.
  20. Oct 23, 2012 #19


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    A modern day witch hunt.
  21. Oct 23, 2012 #20

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    Pity they couldn't spell Maiani's name right. And technically, he's not Italian: he's San Marinian.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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