PHD Comics’ PHD-TV just published an “expose” showing its take on the Italian seismologist case that we talked about earlier in the semester, including some new details I hadn’t heard before. Really interesting. The link is (watch the beginning through 10:10 for the L’Aquila stuff) http://www.phdcomics.com/tv/.
Some of this sounds strangely familiar. Hmmm???
Indeed! What a fascinating case, and what a fantastic presentation. I didn’t know about PhD-TV. So… Is “the system” working in Italy? Or is it broken? Can you imagine people going to jail for “miscommunicating” about lead in water? It would be a different world, wouldn’t it?
This portrayal of the events surely makes me less inclined to defend the scientists involved. As I hear and learn more, I see the temptation for scientists to just “go along” with what the politicians or bureaucrats want. It seems like that is what happened in Italy. These men allowed themselves to be used like pawns and put on a show so that the Civil Protection Agency could “calm” the public down. I’m still not completely convinced that jail is the right answer. Not sure I know what is.
I also think there is a difference between the lead in water and this case, in that the hazard is not man-made in the latter. Also, I am not convinced that this miscommunication, unethical and stupid as it may have been, really caused the public to act differently or raised the death count. Whereas with the lead in water, it seems like there were ways to avoid the hazard that were more concrete and less costly. Either way, I too think the case is fascinating. I think it would be a great case to have a group of students study next year. Have fun!
Yes. You raise excellent points. Btw, I would just love to see the minutes from that 45-minute meeting.