Experts in a Time of Unreason – Update

In a previous post, Experts in a Time of Unreason, I made reference to a case involving six scientists and a government official convicted of manslaughter for the failure to predict the 2009 earthquake that killed more than 300 people and leveled the city of L’Aquila. A year later, one of the convicted scientists, Enzo Boschi, former president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, is speaking out.

Perhaps more troubling, the prosecution also misrepresented a 1995 study by Boschi and others in which they noted that a handful of powerful earthquakes recorded in Abruzzo in the 17th and 18th centuries did not prove that the risk of future temblors in that area was high. Boschi argues that the prosecutor “completely distorted” that study’s purpose and conclusions. “The public prosecutor’s superficial interpretation of scientific results to bolster his argument sets a grave precedent for not only seismology but many other disciplines as well.” The 1995 study was not meant to be the final word on Abruzzo’s vulnerability to strong earthquakes but rather a present a point for further scientific discourse.

Bureaucrats, unaccountable prosecutors, and petty people with delusions of standing; they will likely be the death of us.

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