Seismic Charge: Italian Prosecutors Charge Seismologists With Manslaughter For Failing To Predict 2009 Quake

There is a bizarre case in Italy where Italian prosecutors have charged the country’s top seismologist with manslaughter for failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009. The massive earthquake killed 308 people and they blame Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. Six other scientists and technicians are also charged.

The charges are based on the flawed assumption that earthquakes can be predicted with precision. The USGS ‘s website notes that “[n]either the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake.”

The scientists have been under investigation for a year. Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella said that the seven defendants had supplied “imprecise, incomplete and contradictory information” on the earthquake. This information was made available in a press conference six days before the earthquake. By giving such information, they are accused of “thwart[ing] the activities designed to protect the public.” However, Boshi had predicated that a large earthquake was coming. He just didn’t know when.

It is a case that threatens all scientists and creates a chilling effect across fields that range from seismologists to climatologists to volcanologists to medical scientists.

Source: Science

Jonathan Turley

12 thoughts on “Seismic Charge: Italian Prosecutors Charge Seismologists With Manslaughter For Failing To Predict 2009 Quake”

  1. Usually, you blame a scientist by saying “look, the leading experts in the field all figured it out, so you should to”. So how can you one prove incompetency of the leading experts in the field?

    I guess all seismology scientists should predict an earthquake in every city every day, as they are less likely to be sued for false alarm than failure to predict…

  2. Long before I reached the supposed age of adulthood, it occurred to me while studying biology on my own initiative, that there is good reason to hope that evolution is a totally false theory.

    What came into my mind is, if evolution is real, it might be possible for intelligent life to evolve on this planet. Alas, if any humans were to happen to be around if intelligent life evolves, humans surely will exterminate it, in selfish defense.

    Why else would humans have evolved into a species which has an evident proclivity to reject evolution?

    So, I celebrate the obviously ongoing evolution of adamant ignorance and intransigent stupidity.

  3. I have a few that I would like to…ah…never mind….

  4. Sorry Pete, I guess I am not “so wise in the ways of science”.

    Now explain to me again why a witch floats?

    “She turned me into a newt!”
    “Well . . . I got better.”

  5. frank frank frank
    goat entrails only work for volcanos, comets, and determining gender of the unborn.

    for earthquakes you need chicken bones and a human sacrifice.

  6. Perhaps they should sacrifice a goat and have an oracle read the entrails. Thats the only sure way to predict earthquakes.

    What we really need is a giant asteroid. Human kind has done about all the damage it can & it is long past time we left the scene in hope of an intelligent life form evolving to take over.

  7. I still want to visit Italy … and I understand they are as plagued with stupid people as we are …

  8. “Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.”

    – Dr. Laurence J. Peter

  9. Diana,

    Everyday when I come to the Turley Blog I’m reminded constantly that the amount of absolute stupidity in the world is almost overwhelming. If it wasn’t for the brilliant people who populate this blog many of whom I greatly admire I think I would despair.

  10. I predict these guys will predict an earthquake every day for the rest of their lives.

    MetroCowboy, there’s a lot of things we can fix in this world. Stupid isn’t one of them. This is absolute stupidity. Is science really that dead?

  11. One thing about the human race there is plenty of STUPID to pass around.

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