A Bad Earthquake Prediction Earns Italian Scientists Six Years in Jail

By Leslie Horn on at

An Italian court has sentenced six scientists and a former government official to six years in prison for a faulty prediction of the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila. What is this, the Salem witch trials? This is a dangerously anti-science precedent, even if it's just in Italy.

The 6.3 magnitude quake killed 309 and left the city in shambles. Of course officials and victims are probably looking for someone to blame for the emotional and financial distress caused. Thus, they ruled that this seven people gave "inexact, incomplete and contradictory" intel about just how dangerous the tremors felt before the actual quake were. Prosecutors said their warnings were falsely reassuring. The defense argued that they can't predict major earthquakes with complete accuracy. I'm going to have to defer to the defense, which has not said if it will appeal. But jail time for incorrectly forecasting a natural disaster? Seems like a dubious standard. [BBC]

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