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Post 24 Oct 2012, 6:31 am

Astounding. And this didn't happen is some ignorant backwater of the planet.

http://science.time.com/2012/10/24/scientific-illiteracy-why-the-italian-earthquake-verdict-is-even-worse-than-it-seems/

Stupid gets fewer good days in the 21st century than it used to get, but it enjoyed a great ride for a long time — back in the day when there were witches to burn and demons to exorcise and astronomers to put on trial for saying that the Earth orbits around the sun.

But yesterday was a reminder of stupid’s golden era, when an Italian court sentenced six scientists and a government official to six years in prison on manslaughter charges, for failing to predict a 2009 earthquake that killed 300 people in the town of l’Aquila.
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Post 24 Oct 2012, 7:48 am

The real issue is the lax attention to building standards by the government and contractors, but I suspect political influence will allow that one to slide (as it will have been political influence that let it happen in the first place).

So, perhaps it's less about Science v Ignorance and more about political corruption and the need for convenient scapegoats. And that's something Italy is more well known for.
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Post 25 Oct 2012, 6:49 am

Good point. Though I would say that either interpretation puts Italy in a terrible light.
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Post 26 Oct 2012, 8:40 am

They'll appeal of course, and the conviction will almost certainly be quashed. If it isn't then expect every seismologist in Italy to refuse to give any meaningful advice ever again. They'll either respond with "run for the hills !" every time anybody asks them anything or more likely point blank refuse to answer any questions. Won't take very much of that kind of thing before they have to change the law to give them immunity from prosecution.