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E.J.

Geologists to be charged for not predicting earthquake?

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-Article-

News out of Italy suggests that seven researchers who did not predict the L’Aquila earthquake in April 2009 are under formal investigation and may be charged with gross negligent manslaughter.

Megan Sever (pictured at Yellowstone) writes Hazardous Living for EARTH.
Megan Sever

A news report suggests that these researchers — seismologists and senior members of Italy’s Civil Protection Department (pdf) and the National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute (INGV) — are being investigated based on their statements to the Major Risks Committee (part of the Civil Protection Department) on March 31, 2009, that a series of small earthquakes (none over magnitude 4.0) over the previous six months did not mean that a large earthquake was imminent.

...

Less than a week later, the magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck L’Aquila, killing 308 people and razing much of the medieval city. Now, L’Aquila’s chief prosecutor says that the scientists should have told people to evacuate L’Aquila after the tremors because a major earthquake was imminent.


Wow, just wow. You'd think that predicting earthquakes would be as accurate as predicting the weather, because we all know that weather men/women are always 100% right... (8-|)

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This is just plain stupid, earthquake prediction is as precise a science as tarot card reading. I suspect someone in the Italian government is looking for a convenient scapegoat to take the blame for a natural event that in legal and insurance circles is usually regarded as an Act of God.

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I'm going to sue the company that made my front door for giving me sun burn, there was no label on the door that going outside in the sun for long periods of time would cause harmful effects.

Hahahaha, what a joke. We already got shit like that here, just people wanting money because they are too lazy to work for themselves for a change.

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For once I agree wiht GD. Shit like this is why we have warning labels on everything. my favorite was on a bottle of soy sauce: "WARNING: CONTAINS SOY"... no shit!

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Csonicgo said:

For once I agree wiht GD. Shit like this is why we have warning labels on everything. my favorite was on a bottle of soy sauce: "WARNING: CONTAINS SOY"... no shit!


Not to mention, instructions on everything.

Bag of airline peanuts:

"Step 1: Open Bag.

Step 2: Enjoy peanuts."


Thank the lord for that! I'd be lost otherwise!

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Predicting earthquakes is a double-edged sword: usually those acting as "harbingers" before something has actually occurred face the threat of charges for spreading panic and/or disrupting public order, such as the case of the controversial seismologist Giampaolo Giuliani: he had actually PREDICTED that there would be a large earthquake in Aquila, but he was silenced by the local authorities on the grounds of the foreamentioned threats.

He had actually spread an alarm on 29 March by warning the Mayor of Sulmona, only to result in him being charged for false alarm and needless spread of panic.

So if that article is genuine, it indicates a circumstancial and cynical attitude by part of constituted authority: punish both hardbingers AND those failing to do so, because SOMEBODY must be always accountable, right? How convenient, especially when barking up the wrong tree.

This is not restricted to Italy though, seismologists in general are not public officials and so any and all warning they may issue are purely personal and their sole responsibility. The legal frameworks, as apparent from this case, don't absolve them from raising either false alarms or failing to do so.

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Man feels entitled to perfection. This is no different than the class-action lawsuits against drug companys because people are suffering side-affects. Humans and their science and machines will never be perfect. So...make somebody ELSE the scapegoat ($$$).

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Csonicgo said:

Shit like this is why we have warning labels on everything. my favorite was on a bottle of soy sauce: "WARNING: CONTAINS SOY"... no shit!


That is there because some people may think it's fake soy or something. And following that, so they don't get sued "I didn't know the Soy Milk was really made from Soy". I know Soy Milk containing Soy is pretty obvious but there are other products which are deceptive in packaging. It wouldn't be the first time nor the last time a product said it was something that it was not. Some people don't even look at the product, they immietely look at the nutrition information then after reading it they stare at the front of the item for five minutes then put it in their cart. Although this paragraph supports the warning labels the next one goes against it.

But anyway, companies have to go out of their way to warn people of their products because people are dumb and don't know anything. The people play dumb so they can get the cash because they'll go to court in casts and paint black shit over them (scorch marks) and go in all teary. The warning labels are wasting valuable black ink, which comes from the rarest of squids, save the squids. Buy a product with a warning label in black and you support the mass murder of squids. Those squids are hunted down and farmed for their ink, never living the normal life of a squid.

Soy makes me sick whenever I eat/drink it though.

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Such kinds of class action lawsuits are not possible in Greece (the legal system doesn't allow for them, at least not in the form used in the US), plus the variation of Roman Law we're using doesn't have the English Law concept of established court precedents over similar cases.

What does that mean? Even in the case of obvious defects and large numbers of affected consumers, very few will take it to the courts because e.g. 1000 disgruntled customers will mean 1000 different court proceedings, and each one will be picked to the bone by attorneys and negotiated 1000 times with 1000 different per-accuser outcomes, so the very least a trial date could be set too far into the future. And then there are appeals....yeah, it sucks.

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Within the next 10 days there is a 99% chance this thread shall contain walls of text. The range is wide enough for people to understand and prepare for walls of text and not close enough for people to panic over the amount of words. Only 99% chance in case there is no walls of text then prediction cannot be wrong.

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Civil Protection Department and "statements to the Major Risks Committee" does not make it sound like it's just "some geologists". If you tell me they're investigating any geologists who talked about this on the media or where ever, yeah, but if these are state employees or contractors charged with ensuring the safely of the population, an investigation can be expected. An investigation doesn't mean negligence, anyway, unless its finds declare so. It does imply responsibility, which seems to make sense here.

bytor said:
This is no different than the class-action lawsuits against drug companys because people are suffering side-affects.

That happens especially when people are not informed of side effects, not when the drug is properly labeled to have such effects. Class action is an important instrument for individuals who otherwise don't have much weight in the economy, legislation or politics. By the way, the plural of company is companies.

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