Well, it’s official.
The Italian courts have found half a dozen scientists and a government official guilty of manslaughter over the failure to accurately predict the risks of the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake which killed 309 people.
This has been rumbling along for years now, indeed here’s a previous blog post where I outlined the case in more detail.
I am actually stunned by the utterly ridiculous conclusions of this hearing, let alone the fact these men now have 6 years in prison to look forward to for failing to predict the unpredictable. Presumably we can shortly expect a series of high profile cases of bookmakers taking their employees to court for gross negligence for inaccurately determining the outcome of future sporting events.
The implications of this finding however, are more worrisome. Given this outcome, who could blame Italian seismologists for being reluctant in the future for getting involved in the forecasting business at all. Public service science in Italy may have been irrevocably damaged by this judgement, and it’s going to be a while before we know how badly. The only winners in this case are the lawyers who have no doubt earnt a pretty penny in the 3 years this case has now been building for.
Shame on you, Italy.