The Curmudgeon


Monday, October 22, 2012

And Yet It Moved

An Italian judge has put the evidence-based community firmly in its place by sentencing seven members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks to six years in prison for manslaughter, on the grounds that they offered an unjustifiably optimistic risk assessment a week before the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake. More than three hundred people died, tens of thousands were left homeless, Silvio Berlusconi and a peddler of eternal verities did a bit of posturing, and it must have been somebody's fault, although it is unclear whether anyone has suggested imprisoning the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak for having neglected to pray the disaster away. To make it absolutely clear where the blame really lies, in addition to the prison sentences (higher than the prosecution demanded) the judge imposed a compensation payment of six and a half million pounds and a lifetime ban on each defendant holding public office. Several international bodies have apparently warned that a guilty verdict might deter scientists from advising governments; given the present orthodoxy, which dictates that faith makes policy and policy makes evidence, governments will find all this rather encouraging.


  • At 7:08 pm , Anonymous Madame X said...

    Living in Earthquake Central, we have come to understand the whimsical nature of the beast and simply raise our building standards. Still, I wonder if I can have the Dope charged for peddling false promises of rewards hereafter. I suppose this is how the Dark Ages got their start.

  • At 8:43 pm , Blogger Consider Everything said...

    It would certainly be refreshing if the church spoke in probabilities.

  • At 9:07 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    The church and the building industry certainly seem to have this in common: that unlike most scientists they lack solid ground for their speculations.

  • At 8:51 am , Anonymous Michael Greenwell said...

    This really was one of the most absurd decisions in recent years. And there has been a lot of competition.

  • At 1:23 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    The next stage will be the prosecution of climate scientists for extreme weather disasters, on the subtle legal grounds articulated by Forest Whitaker's Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland:

    "It's your fault. You shouldn't have let me do that."
    "Your Excellency, I did warn you."
    "But you did not convince me!"


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