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First Galileo, Now Seismologists

Italian seismologists sentenced to prison for not being God. Does Italy never learn?

In 1633, The Inquisition attacked and humiliated Galileo Galilei in Italy because Galileo said the Earth revolved around the Sun. One of the greatest scientists of all time died under house arrest. In 2012, an Italian prosecutor put six scientists on trial for manslaughter for underestimating the damage of an earthquake. He obtained sentences of six years in jail for the scientists despite the fact that the government official on trial with them said opposite things to what the scientists said.

Are these unrelated events? No. Let’s return to 1633 and review.

As the shock waves from Galileo’s trial spread, the best and the brightest left Italy and migrated to England and the Netherlands. This brain drain devastated southern Europe. To this day, it is still trying to catch up with Northern Europe. Southern Europe is now facing economic collapse. Italy is still riddled with corruption that extended from the former prime minister down to the Mafia. Much of this can be attributed to a nonscientific outlook.

Why were the scientists lumped in with the government official? Didn’t the prosecution and judge notice the distinction? Do Italians know the difference between scientists and non-scientists? Do Italians understand what science is? Do Italians understand the nature of science? Do they understand that all scientists are by nature conservative and speak in probabilities? Will there be a chilling effect on science? Will scientists flee Italy? Can America profit by a possible brain drain from Italy to the United States? Could litigation against scientists spread and infect the whole world? Would such a trend destroy science and plunge the world into Dark Ages? Is this an Ayn Rand moment? Will scientists go on strike? Let’s take these questions one by one and begin the search for answers.

Why were the scientists lumped in with the government official? Perhaps it was at the discretion of the prosecutor to pick who to prosecute. The scientists worked for Italy’s Civil Protection Department. It is a flaw of prosecutors worldwide to go after the little people and not the chief executive officer who is actually the one responsible for decisions. By definition and by fact.

Do Italians know the difference between scientists and non-scientists? Some do and some don’t.

Didn’t the prosecutor and judge notice the distinction? Either no, in which case the jurists are sloppy or yes, in which case the jurists were playing to a mob mentality to get anyone.

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