A court in L'Aquila, Italia, on Monday handed six-year-prison sentences to members of a national "Great Risks Commission". Although science has still not yet the means of predicting earthquakes, the scientists nevertheless stated that
“It is unlikely that an earthquake like the one in 1703 could occur in the short term, …”
Six days later, the disaster struck and the L'Aquila 2009 earthquake killed over 300 people and left 1,500 injured.
Today, the news are full with that in some parallel world perhaps, scientists have been wrongly convicted for "failing to predict an earthquake". The precise opposite happened. They were condemned for pretending to have predictions that should make it into the public rather than admitting that they have no such powers.
Amazing the way scientists refuse all responsibility for whatever they do. One argument goes that if scientists warn and then nothing happens, then soon none of the plebs listens anymore to warnings. What a snobbish attitude indeed. Yes, if your warnings are often wrong, people will come to conclusions – that is just being rational. None of this can excuse the act of giving people a false sense of safety, thus exposing them to danger.
You do not excuse your own misdeeds about predicting complex systems by your further predictions about another, yet more complex system, namely about what others perhaps would have done. You do the correct thing, period. If others then do what they should not do, then indeed, it will be their fault, will it not? Well, if it is the plebs fault in that hypothetical case, why should it not be the scientists fault now in this case?
As is by now almost stereotypical rather than just typical, scientism likes to compare to the trial of Galileo, the Italian scientist who was tried as a heretic in 1633 for his affront to the pope, calling him a “simpleton”, all based on a theory that contradicted the moon’s known influence on the tides. However, what we see today is that whenever members of a new priest class are held responsible, a rare event indeed, apologetic condemnation from the new church and its devote congregation follows immediately.
With sadness we witness that news about science related issues, instead of being especially concerned with the facts of an issue, are now the worst in that regard. Go look at the articles and try to find what the official reason for the manslaughter conviction has been. In spite of very lengthy articles being dedicated to this story, all you can find is the straw man about a supposed conviction for "not predicting earthquakes” repeated again and again, dressed up with expressions of outrage by people who have large stakes in the established scientific community.
Very worrisome, a huge red flag indeed, the moralizing from the pretend defenders of rationality. Emotionally disturbed about that justice has dared to touch one of their own group, which is regarded as above the law, rationalization mechanisms set in and suddenly it seems as if they care about poor individuals being wrongly convicted. But of course, if scientists were ever in the least concerned about innocent people being done in, day after day there would be outrage about the vast numbers of innocent in our jails and prisons, say all the victims of the “war on drugs” whose lives and families, including whole communities, have been utterly destroyed.