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The crime of failing to be omniscient

Posted by Richard on May 29, 2011

A disturbing idea has taken root in the Western world in recent decades: that whenever anything bad happens to anyone, someone must be blamed. And made to pay. This may be the most bizarre application of that idea that I've encountered:

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

Italian media quoted the judge as saying the defendants "gave inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether smaller tremors felt by L'Aquila residents in the six months before the April 6, 2009 quake should have constituted grounds for a quake warning.

I'd like to think that this bit of nonsense is an aberration that will soon go away. But nowadays, who knows? Meanwhile, the defendants are no doubt racking up legal bills. Will we soon see liability insurance policies marketed to geologists, vulcanologists, meteorologists, … ?

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