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Italy arrests quake scientists, shakes scientific world

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Condunum
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Postby Condunum » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:29 pm

The Parkus Empire wrote:Dammit, I was hoping this about scientists causing a quake. I was all, "Supervillains FTW!" and then I had another drink and then I saw this thread and then I cried like a real man.

I see what you did there.

It's rediculous to charge them.
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Ridicularia
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Postby Ridicularia » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:18 pm

Wait, hold on. Italy's justice system is misguided and corrupt?! Get out of town.

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Postby Sociobiology » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:51 pm

Unibot II wrote:
An Intelligent Man wrote:But Doctors must be arrested whenever someone dies.


Well we do charge doctors for malpractice and negligence, if say someone dies on the surgery table for something a surgeon did out of gross negligence, this is definitely something that needs to be responded to by the state. However, I was under the impression that a scientist and his team (may not have been this team) did report their prediction to the authorities and they were ignored [1].

But when you are talking about earthquakes, sometime this decade is consider among the most highly accurate predictions. there just is no way to predict an earthquake with the kind of accuracy that would allow you to give a warning. ANY warning they could give more than (an earthquake may or may not happen in the next ten years) would be by definition inaccurate and based on guesswork.
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The Corparation
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Postby The Corparation » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:57 pm

This scientists are obviously hiding a secret method for predicting earthquakes and haven't old anyone in some kind of freakish scheme involving Illuminati and insurance companies. Or they have a time machine and havde gone into the future and aquired knolwedge of any earthquakes that will happen between then and now. Of course there is the possibility that like all of the rest of the scientific community they have almost jack shit idea when the next big one will strike, but I mean who'll buy the whole "Science can't do that yet" argument.
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Sociobiology
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Postby Sociobiology » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:58 pm

guess what a huge volcano sits in the center of the US when it erupts it will destroy the US economy and kill huge numbers of people mostly in the midwest, do you know the most accurate warning we can give. The Yellowstone caldera is highly likely to erupt within the next 50,000 years, if you live in the Midwest, there is a good chance you will die. there you have been warned.
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The Corparation
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Postby The Corparation » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:03 pm

Sociobiology wrote:guess what a huge volcano sits in the center of the US when it erupts it will destroy the US economy and kill huge numbers of people mostly in the midwest, do you know the most accurate warning we can give. The Yellowstone caldera is highly likely to erupt within the next 50,000 years, if you live in the Midwest, there is a good chance you will die. there you have been warned.

If I recall correctly Long Valley Caldera is set to blow only within the next few thousand years. So we probably don't have to worry about Yellowstone too much as its likely that America's other super volcano will have gone off by then.
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Postby Ethel mermania » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:59 pm

Risottia wrote:1.They haven't been arrested. They're being tried.

Christmahanikwanzikah wrote:According to other tidbits in the article, the apparent basis of the trial is that these scientists didn't give warning of an impending earthquake, which would've prevented an unnecessary loss of life.
... which, if you know anything about the subject, is utter bullshit.

2.Which, if you knew anything about the L'Aquila quake, is utter bullshit.
2a.It wasn't just a single shock. Shock about magnitude 4 were going on repeatedly since at least a month before the main shock struck. People had been calling the firefighters and the Protezione civile for weeks to report cracks in their houses and in public buildings.
2b.The INGV and Protezione Civile crowd had been conducting a meeting the day before the main shock, and they decided that they weren't going to tell people to move out of their houses because they didn't want to "fuel panic".
2c.A INGV technician (more on wiki) had detected radon venting from fissures in the ground, which is often correlated to upcoming major quakes. He alerted the INGV and Protezione Civile brass that according to his own calculation, a 6+ Richter shock was to be expected within days, and he got fired and sued for that warning. That, 2 days before the major shock.
2d.The INGV and Protezione Civile top levels aren't just "scientists". They're also Public Administration executives. As part of governmental agencies, they are to be held responsible and accountable for NOT having alerted the population of a likely and present danger.


THe above post needs to be repeated and hopefully heeded.

1. They were part of a paid group to do geological risk assements. They had an obligation to warn and the laughed it off.
2. Their underlings predicted the quake and were ignored.
3. In certain circumstances quakes can be predicted with some level of confidence. Their was elevated seismic activity prior to the quake.
There was a pretty good risk that a quake was immenent, and they made a joke about it.

on the face of it yes it feels pretty stupid, but the slightest bit of research should convince anyone it is reasonable.
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Postby Orlkjestad » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:16 pm

Oh, those silly Italians!
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Orlkjestad
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Postby Orlkjestad » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:17 pm

The Corparation wrote:
Sociobiology wrote:guess what a huge volcano sits in the center of the US when it erupts it will destroy the US economy and kill huge numbers of people mostly in the midwest, do you know the most accurate warning we can give. The Yellowstone caldera is highly likely to erupt within the next 50,000 years, if you live in the Midwest, there is a good chance you will die. there you have been warned.

If I recall correctly Long Valley Caldera is set to blow only within the next few thousand years. So we probably don't have to worry about Yellowstone too much as its likely that America's other super volcano will have gone off by then.

We have quite a bit more calderas than Long Valley and Yellowstone...
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Volmachtia
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Postby Volmachtia » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:19 pm

This is absurd. It's like beating a farmer in the dustbowl for not growing food.
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Postby The Soviet Technocracy » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:23 pm

Rambhutan wrote:For once the cliche 'why don't they go after the real criminals' seems right. Not enough organised crime figures or corrupt politicians to go after?


Who do you think runs the legal system there anyway? All the judges are given free Lambos by Berlusconi and paid out of pocket by Sicilian mafia kingpins.
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ItaliaEmpire
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Postby ItaliaEmpire » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:35 pm

Cosmopoles wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:No, they told people, "do not worry about it, have a glass of wine"

Big difference between, we do not know; and, go have a drink.


Actually, there isn't much difference. What would you advise someone to do when you don't know whether an earthquake is coming and never will?

When your a professional and your job is predicting earth quakes and keeping a close eye on seismic activity you dont risk the lives of people and joke around by telling them to go have a drink of wine. If they didnt know but yet still had data showing increaing seismic activity they should have said "At this time we do not know but precaution is necessary.

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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:21 pm

ItaliaEmpire wrote:
Cosmopoles wrote:
Actually, there isn't much difference. What would you advise someone to do when you don't know whether an earthquake is coming and never will?

When your a professional and your job is predicting earth quakes and keeping a close eye on seismic activity you dont risk the lives of people and joke around by telling them to go have a drink of wine. If they didnt know but yet still had data showing increaing seismic activity they should have said "At this time we do not know but precaution is necessary.


Which amounts to, "We know fuck all, but be afraid." I understand these people have a duty to report to the public, but if the difference between a multi-million dollar court case and its dismissal is the manner in which you express your ignorance, someone seriously needs to take a look at the merit of the trial.

Ethel mermania wrote:
Risottia wrote:1.They haven't been arrested. They're being tried.


2.Which, if you knew anything about the L'Aquila quake, is utter bullshit.
2a.It wasn't just a single shock. Shock about magnitude 4 were going on repeatedly since at least a month before the main shock struck. People had been calling the firefighters and the Protezione civile for weeks to report cracks in their houses and in public buildings.
2b.The INGV and Protezione Civile crowd had been conducting a meeting the day before the main shock, and they decided that they weren't going to tell people to move out of their houses because they didn't want to "fuel panic".
2c.A INGV technician (more on wiki) had detected radon venting from fissures in the ground, which is often correlated to upcoming major quakes. He alerted the INGV and Protezione Civile brass that according to his own calculation, a 6+ Richter shock was to be expected within days, and he got fired and sued for that warning. That, 2 days before the major shock.
2d.The INGV and Protezione Civile top levels aren't just "scientists". They're also Public Administration executives. As part of governmental agencies, they are to be held responsible and accountable for NOT having alerted the population of a likely and present danger.


THe above post needs to be repeated and hopefully heeded.

1. They were part of a paid group to do geological risk assements. They had an obligation to warn and the laughed it off.
2. Their underlings predicted the quake and were ignored.
3. In certain circumstances quakes can be predicted with some level of confidence. Their was elevated seismic activity prior to the quake.
There was a pretty good risk that a quake was immenent, and they made a joke about it.

on the face of it yes it feels pretty stupid, but the slightest bit of research should convince anyone it is reasonable.


It is stupid throughout, and I'll list off the reasons why.

1. They aren't on trial for making a remark on television. They are, in fact, on trial for "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory information about the dangers of seismic activity undermining the protection of the population," according to the article.

Now, I surely haven't read the report in question, nor do I have the time to. But it is awfully questionable that the government of Italy would accept a report on seismic risks before a major earthquake, then reject the same report and sue later due to "inaccuracy, incompleteness and contradiction." The city has a responsibility to read the report, take action, and respond to the report when it is released (and this is assuming that what has been put forth by prosecutors is backed by any kind of truth), not sit on their hands and wait for a major disaster to take issue with it and sue. I've seen court cases where local governments have sat on their hands and waited for damage to be done before taking issue with engineering reports when the report itself was written accurately, if not threateningly enough. If the local agency has a question about the report, they need to ask questions.

2. The underling, if so appropriate, was fired for making a claim to the public based on information that, while intriguing, hasn't been accepted or thoroughly analyzed by the scientific community at-large. Increased seismic activity and a spike in output of radon gas are indicators of an earthquake, they do not predict the magnitude, location, or time of the earthquake. You're asking people to throw darts at a board while blindfolded based only on what they hear, smell and feel.

Again, yes, there are indicators for earthquakes, but they are neither accurate nor predictive. Literally, the best thing you can say when you see what these scientists saw is that there is a probability for the continuation of seismic activity, but that the magnitude and other parameters are completely unknown. The best thing engineers like me can do is design/retrofit buildings for earthquakes much larger in magnitude, and fuck if that even helps.

3. Multiple links for your perusal, listed in order of strong words.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2009/040 ... -wogn.html
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... prediction
http://www.cosmostv.org/2011/05/japan-e ... efore.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/ ... 2878.shtml
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80bea ... pan-quake/
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2 ... ake-a.html

4. Goddammit, guys. The reporter journalist quizzing the veep made the crack, not the veep of the scientific group himself.

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Christmahanikwanzikah
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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:23 pm

Alternatively, I propose we blame the quake on all the scantily-clad women in Iran.

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Postby Cosmopoles » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:24 pm

ItaliaEmpire wrote:When your a professional and your job is predicting earth quakes and keeping a close eye on seismic activity you dont risk the lives of people and joke around by telling them to go have a drink of wine. If they didnt know but yet still had data showing increaing seismic activity they should have said "At this time we do not know but precaution is necessary.


If I happen to hear about any professionals who's job is to predict earthquakes, I'll let them know.

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Postby Christmahanikwanzikah » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:27 pm

Cosmopoles wrote:
ItaliaEmpire wrote:When your a professional and your job is predicting earth quakes and keeping a close eye on seismic activity you dont risk the lives of people and joke around by telling them to go have a drink of wine. If they didnt know but yet still had data showing increaing seismic activity they should have said "At this time we do not know but precaution is necessary.


If I happen to hear about any professionals who's job is to predict earthquakes, I'll let them know.


Seriously. I'm going to be applying to places like UCSD and Cal for graduate school in order to study seismic hazards and design. By all means, let me know.

Hell, I'll keep this nation active for as long as I need to so that you can TG me that information when you're able to pass it on. If I'm going to be ahead of the curve in the field I'm planning to enter, I'm going to need to know things like these so I know who to talk to.

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Postby Death-Magnavox » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:43 pm

The Parkus Empire wrote:Dammit, I was hoping this about scientists causing a quake. I was all, "Supervillains FTW!" and then I had another drink and then I saw this thread and then I cried like a real man.


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Postby The Parkus Empire » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:02 am

Death-Magnavox wrote:
The Parkus Empire wrote:Dammit, I was hoping this about scientists causing a quake. I was all, "Supervillains FTW!" and then I had another drink and then I saw this thread and then I cried like a real man.


the most badass person that i ever saw on internet cries,thats perfect...

The most badass person you saw on the internet was a probably a Marine, an Army Ranger and a Green Beret, who beat the living shit out of every single person who didn't believe him, all before the age of enlistment.
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Postby Risottia » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:25 am

California Terra Prime wrote:shouldn't they put the pope on trial? The man with the funniest hat is supposed to have a direct line to god and he couldn't ask Ol' buddy Jayeezuhs for the 411 on earthquakes? :rofl: Wow, Italy is pathetic.

And of course, someone who
a) doesn't know the Pope is the Head of a foreign State and hence is protected by diplomatic immunity and
b) doesn't realize these so-called "scientists" are directors of governmental agencies whose task is to warn about quake risks and plan evacuations
c) doesn't even read the wiki about the issue - or else would know there had been precursory shocks for ONE MONTH before the main shock

isn't pathetic at all.
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Postby Kylesburgh » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:23 am

I sense some sort of the same techniques by government to shift blame from themselves. Earthquake prediction is even more inexact than weather prediction; at least in storms/hurricanes/typhoons you can predict the direction, strength, location, and approximate time of landfall... in earthquakes you can't predict the magnitude, time of event, strength, or epicenter. Indeed, you can't really predict earthquakes. Because of this, pre-emptive evacuations are usually almost impossible for earthquakes, unlike for storms/hurricanes. While you can do risk assessment to determine which areas have the highest risks for certain kinds of disasters, even if you have a good risk assessment map, it'll be useless if local officials don't read it, or do their job, or if building standards are not being enforced, if you don't make of implement disaster management plans, and so on and so forth. IMHO I don't think the scientists are the most guilty here, if they are guilty at all.
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Postby Yaltabaoth » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:45 am

Risottia wrote:these so-called "scientists" are directors of governmental agencies whose task is to warn about quake risks and plan evacuations
there had been precursory shocks for ONE MONTH before the main shock


So what?

Christchurch, NZ had a major (7.1) earthquake on Sept 4th last year. Incredibly there were no deaths.
In the week following there were over a thousand aftershocks, thousands more over the following several months. According to Wikipedia, there have been almost 7,500 quakes in that region alone in the year since the first one.
On 22 Feb this year, it had another major (6.3, but shallower) quake, this one killed 181 people.
On 13 June this year, it suffered another 6.3 quake. Again no deaths.
Aftershocks continue to this day.

The thing is, prior to the 7.1 quake, they weren't common at all in Christchurch.

Meanwhile, half an island to the north of Christchurch, is Wellington - the capital of NZ and the seat of Parliament.
In all the years I lived in Wellington (NZ) I lived through hundreds, if not thousands of earthquakes there. Thankfully none were destructive like the Christchurch quakes, but they're still a very common occurrence.
Everyone in NZ was expecting Wellington to be the site of "the big one". The place shakes worse than Michael J Fox mixing cocktails.

Given the high level of seismic activity elsewhere in NZ, I doubt you can imagine the amount of geological scrutiny Christchurch and surrounds has received since Sept 4th 2010. Yet the Feb 22 quake went completely unpredicted.

This IS an absurd situation in Italy.
Because YOU CANNOT FUCKING PREDICT EARTHQUAKES!

Besides, the logistics of evacuating an entire city would be immense, and to do it based on a prediction of an earthquake even more so. After the Feb 22 (fatal) quake, there were reports of the NZ Army having to evacuate residents practically at gunpoint, because they were refusing to leave their homes. Their homes. Damaged as they were (the buildings, not the residents), they were still their homes.
Looting was also a major problem, with looters entering condemned and visibly sagging buildings, even venturing into the Red Zone in the devastated CBD despite the army being out in force.

Now imagine the free-for-all if you evacuated a whole city... or are you going to populate your risk-zone with expendable soldiers instead, to protect the (as yet undamaged) properties, homes, businesses from opportunists? Try to enforce a cordon around a whole region?

Now imagine the quake doesn't happen... how do you decide how long to wait before letting people back in? A week after the predicted date? How do you control letting everyone back in to their city?
Who's going to pay for all that work lost? Every employer in the city would be suing the Government for loss of income etc.
Then, let's say, the quake does actually occur, just later than predicted, like just after everyone's gotten back...

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Postby Virabia » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:59 am

We don't possess the technology to accurately predict earthquakes.

sigh... people can be quite stupid
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Postby Gauthier » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:18 am

Christmahanikwanzikah wrote:Alternatively, I propose we blame the quake on all the scantily-clad women in Iran.


Italy is run by Berlusconi. If you think scantily clad women in Iran caused quakes, by that logic Italy should have crumbled into the Mediterranean Sea years ago.
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Yaltabaoth
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Postby Yaltabaoth » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:39 am

Grrrr… I should be asleep, but dammit this has really got my goat.

Think about the number of seismologists who must have, at some time, made a prediction of "The Big One" - statistically it's inevitable that one or two will appear to get it right - in retrospect.


In NZ we have an organisation called Civil Defence (CD). Part of their job is to advise kiwis on how to prepare for a natural disaster - ANY natural disaster. A key piece of their advice is: "keep an emergency kit: First Aid kit, bottled water, tinned/dried food, a radio, a torch, batteries".

That's not just good advice in the circumstance of an earthquake, it's good advice for anyone living anywhere at all.

I currently live in Melbourne, which is very geologically stable, and most of my friends / workies know I'm experienced with earthquakes, as I talked about it a lot after the Christchurch quakes.

If Melbourne suddenly became geologically unstable and they asked me for advice, I'd tell them to follow Civil Defence protocol and make sure their Emergency Kit was up to date, and other than that, well… just go about your day.
If one followed up jokingly with something like "so have a glass of wine then?" I'd also reply "Absolutely".

Because there really is nothing else you can do.

I'm assuming Italy has a similar organisation to CD, and that it similarly advises its citizens to keep an emergency kit. In which case, "just go about your day" or "have a glass of wine" really is the only thing you can say to a specific question like "what should we do about the chance of a big earthquake?"

If Italy doesn't have a CD equivalent, then the problem's much deeper than one single advisory panel specific to one particular type of natural disaster.

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Postby Coccygia » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:45 am

On the face of it I must say this is just plain nuts. Earthquakes are not predictable. I suppose if they'd given a warning and there was no quake, they'd have been busted for that too? On the other hand imagine if you could sue weathermen every time they were wrong. ;)
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