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October 24 2012
The recent Italian court ruling that respected seismologists are guilty of manslaughter and should serve six years in prison for failing to predict the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake has sent shockwaves through the scientific community.
Please forgive the questionable choice of metaphor in the last sentence there.
The decision has been widely decried by the scientific community as poorly thought out bordering on ridiculous, largely due to the quite reasonable argument that earthquakes cannot be predicted with any useful degree of accuracy, despite all the modern technology and understanding at our disposal. Therefore, it is ridiculous for scientists to be jailed for not doing something that it's impossible to do. The ability to predict an earthquake accurately would be truly groundbreaking.
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