24 October 2012

Science on Trial

A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter.

Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes.

The reaction from the cowards known as scientists was predictable:

The case has alarmed many in the scientific community, who feel science itself has been put on trial.

Some scientists have warned that the case might set a damaging precedent, deterring experts from sharing their knowledge with the public for fear of being targeted in lawsuits, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome reports.

Among those convicted were some of Italy's most prominent and internationally respected seismologists and geological experts.

Earlier, more than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the group in the dock.

After the verdict was announced, David Rothery, of the UK's Open University, said earthquakes were "inherently unpredictable".

Look, this is a simple matter of axiomatic logic:  either science is always reliable or it is not.  If science is always reliable, then scientists should have no qualms about standing trial.  If it is not, then scientists and science fetishists need to shut up already about how science is so predictable.  If scientists are too scared to be held liable for their claims, then they shouldn’t make them.  Since, per US law, all manufacturers/producers/sellers are supposed to stand behind their product claims, it should be clear that most businessmen are far braver than most scientists.  And until scientists are going to be as confident in their claims as this guy, then perhaps it would behoove them to stop nattering on about how reliable and accurate science is.

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