When this controversy started, I posted in Forums about it. This post comes as follow up.
So, these scientists (and one government official) were put on trial for manslaughter. The essence of the matter was that they did not predict this earthquake which killed 300 people in 2009 in Abruzzo, Italy.
Back then, as now I felt that this was irrational as both then and now there is no method or testing which can reliably predict an earthquake, even if these scientists were on the Italian “Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks”.
Apparently, some local lab tech predicted (based on Radon levels and seismic tremors) that there would be a major earthquake. The official on trial told the people that the tremors were releasing energy, not to fear and have a glass of wine. The earthquake struck on April 6th, 2011.
Apparently in Italy, not much has changed since Galileo’s trial back in 1633. Galileo made a big claim which while correct, could not be proved, and more relevantly, he did not communicate his findings to the Church since any discovery which would cause a change in Biblical interpretation first had to be communicated to the Church. In 2009, the official's communication was equally faulty. He should have stated that the lab tech's method of prediction has not yet been supported by science, and that no reliable method for prediction yet exists. He sought instead to calm a nervous populace.
As a result of Galileo's trial, astronomy (in Italy) was held back hundreds of years.
As a result of the current farce, I wonder who will be foolhardy enough to study or work in the field of geology in Italy?
Expectations must be balanced by reality. While we can hope for the advances we’d love to see in science, expecting them is quite another matter. Worse still are unrealistic expectations.
I hope these scientists’ sentence can be appealed successfully. They haven’t been sentenced yet as in Italy, the verdict undergoes a review process before sentence is pronounced.