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The Precautionary Principle: Anti-Science In Action
In a legal case that would make Galileo weep, the Italian government has prosecuted and convicted six scientists and a government official "based on how they assessed and communicated risk before the earthquake that hit the city of L'Aquila" in 2009.

The Washington Post explains that the conviction "came after the geophysicists told city officials on a risk-assessment commission that they were unable to make a detailed prediction about whether ongoing tremors might indicate a coming disaster. The court seems to consider this akin to criminal negligence..." One of the scientists facing six years in prison, 74-year-old physicist Claudio Evo, called the decision "medieval."

The influential OIRA Watch website titled an article about the convictions, "If You Want to Mandate the Precautionary Principle Take A Look at This!!"

The public prosecutor said before the trial, "I know they can't predict earthquakes. The basis of the charges is not that they didn't predict the earthquake. As functionaries of the state, they had certain duties imposed by law: to evaluate and characterize the risks that were present in L'Aquila." Thus, the issue is presented by the state as being that the scientists weren't sufficiently cautious in their work, i.e., a demand for precautionary principle preeminence. The result is science along with scientists being put on trial.

The real issue is the refusal of the authorities to accept the concepts of risk and uncertainty. The convictions are a demonstration of what happens in a society that demands the impossible - complete protection from risk.

Italy's de facto instance on not facing earthquake hazards is, in many regards, no different than American demands that products be "safe" or computer systems be "secure." Both demands are unreasonable and lead to absurd and harmful results. Society's goal needs to be the management of risk, not its elimination.

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