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Roman scientists indicted for failing to predict deadly earthquake

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 27, 2011 | 1:55 pm

Ridiculous news out of Rome:

Seven scientists and other experts were indicted on manslaughter charges yesterday for allegedly failing to sufficiently warn residents before a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009.

Defense lawyers condemned the charges, saying it is impossible to predict earthquakes. Seismologists have long concurred, saying that the technology does not exist to predict a quake, and that no major temblor has ever been foretold.

Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella ordered the members of the national government’s Great Risks commission, which evaluates potential for natural disasters, to go on trial in L’Aquila on Sept. 20.

In sending me this story, Jay remarked that there’s nothing religious in this story. Except how do you charge someone for failing to predict what is usually regarded as an “Act of God?”

I’ve read a few books on earthquakes—actually just finished “A Dangerous Place” last week—and everything credible that I’ve read has made it pretty clear you can’t predict earthquakes. Scientists have tried. But there is just no reliable way to do it.

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