At the End of the Day

The Italian earthquake manslaughter decision is blame gone mad.

We often talk about politicians who have all of the power while taking none of the responsibility. But tonight, a group of Italian scientists are facing six years in jail for manslaughter for providing “an incomplete, inept, unsuitable and criminally mistaken” assessment of risks posed by the L’Aquila earthquake. Surely this is all the responsibility with none of the power.

What is it about our species that gives it an insatiable appetite for blame? If there was a reliable way of predicting earthquakes – and their likely effects – one suspects that, in the aftermath of the 1906 edition that levelled San Francisco – someone would be peddling it. The fact is, it doesn’t exist. So I am at a loss to understand how anyone can be ‘criminally mistaken’ about something nobody understands.

For we humans, there must always be a culprit. Sh*t happens, but we must find someone upon whom to shower guilt.

The Iranian Mullahs blame scantily-clad women for earthquakes. The Chinese at one time blamed a giant snake who had been condemned to live below ground level. King Harold’s supporters blamed a comet for the defeat at Hastings in 1066. Hitler blamed the Jews for everything. Neocons blame society for getting in the way of business. The Germans blame the Greeks, and vice versa. The longer it goes on, the madder it gets.

How would it have been, for example, if in 1987 Michael Fish had been sentenced to 20 years hard labour in a Gulag for saying the Great Hurricane wasn’t going to happen? He looked at his charts, they said 50 mph winds, so he told people that: HTF was he to know that, after he’d gone to bed, the speed would go up to 130 mph?

At the moment, I find myself being blamed by knuckleheads for something in my private life. People who on the one hand think me controlling also want to blame me for the actions of another human being who refused to control her own actions. They wish only to accuse, rather than understand. There must be a Court, there must be a Judge, there must be a Jury, but above all, there must be a Verdict: GUILTY. And of course, they the sovereign accusers must not be guilty of anything: Yorkshire police must be guilty of everything, but I the yobbo gatecrasher must be absolved. Bankers must be guilty of everything, but I the spendthrift Chancellor must be absolved. NHS budgetary control must be guilty of everything, but I the greedy carpetbagger must be absolved. The markets must be guilty of everything, but I the talentless Belgian poetic onanist must be absolved. Jimmy Savile must be guilty of everything, but I the irresponsible Lolita creator must be absolved.

In biology at school, we learn that lesser species have only rods in their visual systems, so they see only in black and white. Whereas we wonderful human beings have cones as well, so we can see in colour. Well, you could’ve fooled me.

This entire attitude of action-judgement stems from crap education (unable to teach kids to think for themselves) crap media content interested only in cruel typification, and rapacious lawyers. We are become a culture compulsively focused on the pursuit of the guilty, and the persecution of those unfortunate enough to find themselves In the Frame. But as cases involving the British police have shown over and over again, those in the frame have an uncomfortable habit of turning out to be innocent.

We need to move away from a need to prosecute the alleged guilty parties, and instead look more closely at the motives behind the prosecutors. Today in Italy, Judge Marco Billi announced the earthquake manslaughter sentence, and also ruled that the defendants should pay €7.8m (£6.4m) in damages, with €2m to be paid immediately. This is a member of the Judiciary appeasing the mob with vengeance. It is not the Role of Law: it is the law of the jungle.

In the light of the verdict, Professor Malcolm Sperrin, Director of Medical Physics at the Royal Berkshire Hospital hit the nail square on the head: “If the scientific community is to be penalised for making predictions that turn out to be incorrect, or for not accurately predicting an event that subsequently occurs, then scientific endeavour will be restricted to certainties only – and the benefits that are associated with findings from medicine to physics will be stalled.”

Amen to all of that. Down this road, book-burning lies.

35 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Whilst I have every sympathy for the Italian seismologists, there appears to be a belief in certain legal circles in Italy that the earth did indeed move for one man. I understand that Mr Berlusconi categorically denies that anything improper took place at his bunga bunga parties, rather the prosecution are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill……On a scale of one to ten I wonder what Richter would have thought about all this?

  2. Well, the upside is, with the crap education the rapacious lawyers are destined to extinction, for there will be nobody educated enough to follow in their footsteps. The law of unintended consequences? No. There will be another kind of lawyer, only less educated and qualified, dumb downed as all professions will come to be as, without educated free thinkers governments will find it easier to control the masses. Serfdom is all over the free thinking internet, are we headed that way? Of course, why? Television. If you don’t know why, hey, it isn’t for me to explain…..How many people in the UK, 57-60M? How many in government, 600 odd? How does that work?
    They are much more clever than most, that’s how.

  3. The problem is that the six seismologists said the right thing (it’s an earthquake zone, anything could happen) but the single government dude calmed it down on TV (fear not, all those tremors have taken the heat out of the situation). He’s the chap that should have been lynched. After this no seismologist will ever opine again.

  4. Slightly off topic, ok completely off topic but, Mario’s OMT has completely ruined the Spanish/Italian bond market issue, never again will this be an indicator as to the status quo. Scumbags: 1 Proles: 0 hehehe!

  5. Relax,JW.Italy is Italy.A financial earthquake took place in the UK,from ,say 2007, onwards,masterminded by the actions of Garry and MarK,,ruining the lives of a huge number of people,and they recieve index linked pensions,for the rest of their lives(not six years in the slammer).

  6. “We need to move away from a need to prosecute the alleged guilty parties, and instead look more closely at the motives behind the prosecutors.”
    Indeed.
    Since everyone who lives in an earthquake zone knows that prediction is one thing (and generally correct) but that what can happen anyway is another, this is about local government failing to take preventive action and blaming it on the scientific stats. No doubt it was cheaper to do nothing (bad decision). So government covering itself.

  7. Regulation encourages blame. It leads us by the nose to perceptions which can no longer be free of the preconceptions which it creates in us.

  8. Reflecting on this news from Italy, and other nonsense, one might have good reason to wonder how long it might be before others do what we in the proud Metwetwe family think unanimously….
    ‘Makes you want to reach for your GAT’.

  9. As Eleni said a lot of is scapegoating and or, passing the buck.

    This might cheer you up personally I found it to be hilarious. It’s a raw video of what could be an elderly married couple having a tiff on the way into an important meeting, that once reached, plastic smiles & normality were restored. Features the Sloggers favourite frau, no sound needed, a lip reader would be an interesting guide though.

  10. In 2001 a LandRover came off the M62 and ran down an embankment onto the railway line at Great Heck, resulting in a major rail disaster.

    Any reasonable risk assessment prior to the accident would have shown that the absence of a barrier on the motorway at that point meant that a vehicle coming off the road (like many vehicles do on motorways ever day) would end up on the railway line, with fairly predictable consequences. The LandRover driver was prosecuted and jailed for driving whilst tired. No-one from the Highways Agency or DoT, either individually or corporately, faced any proceedings.

    So the issue isn’t simply that someone must always be blamed, it’s that someone who is not in any way connected with the state must be blamed. The public want accountability; the politicians want a scapegoat.

    In the UK, private sector employers are now presumed guilty in the event of an accident unless they can prove themselves innocent. The fact that the NHS kills thousands every year but is seemingly immune to prosecution by the HSE, and the police can similarly cause the deaths of dozens of people without being brought before a court, is clear evidence of this policy. Admittedly, prosecuting scientists for failing to warn of an earthquake is taking things a bit too far but it is only one small step further in the same direction that we have been travelling for the last two thirty-odd years.

    • The Great Heck crash was an interesting example of sentencing being about consequences, rather than the offence.

      If the Gary Hart had fallen asleep, left the road and merely damaged a road-sign, chances are he would have been fined £100 and awarded 3 penalty points. However, after the same basic ‘sin’, his car just happened to fall onto railway tracks and, by sheer coincidence, induce multiple deaths from two passing trains – he got a long jail sentence. Where’s the appropriateness in that ?

      His ‘crime’ was the same, only the consequences were different, yet it seems that the sentence is measured by the latter, rather than the active ‘sin’ itself. His only choice would have been to avoid the ‘sin’, he had no option about the random consequences. Strange system.

    • Awww……those poor put-upon Private sector innocents like bankers and Railtrack and all the rest…….always going to jail for the sins of that nasty Public sector bastards.

      There’s no justice!!

  11. And don’t forget that there are plenty in the Green movement who call for concentration camps and death sentences for climate change “deniers”
    Some even link earthquakes with climate change too.

  12. Being blamed by knuckleheads who see you as controlling and want to blame you for the actions of another human being (who refused to control her own actions) is very tough. With respect, review your truth always but never be forced into abandoning it, and remember that you may be fighting a culture that prefers to overlook reality, even if it is a matter of record, in favour of something more sympathetic to its agenda. Untangling this mindset is, without doubt, the very apogee in close quarters bollocks deconstruction :(

  13. It seems that ‘truth’ means different things to different people at different times and different circumstances. Whether is domestic or a world issue like climate change or the economy. Not growing up in the UK I have no real knowledge of Jimmy Saville or his works, but from reading he press here is Oz and this blog he seems like a number one creep. Where is the truth in this scenario and how will it be untangled if it ever is? Who deserves blame for that? The hundreds of kids he abused? The mentally ill and the sick that he is also accused of abusing? Where was truth when they gave him the keys to a psychiatric hospital for heaven’s sake!!!

    • Our ability to grasp the truth is challenged everyday .So is the use of our reason ( whose lifting out of the primeval waters , ironically enough ,is a Greek achievement – before that man was plain intuitive )
      Some brain research scientists believe that we humans actually have three brains , sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain , mammalian brain , and the new cerebral cortex or “human” brain .Three of them wired closely together and scientists believe that much of our behaviour emerges from the evolutionary programming of the two pre-human brains.Some even suggest that we use our new human brain primarily to justify the actions generated by our two older brains .In other words our new brain provides excuses for ourselves as we go along , pretends it knows the ‘truth’ , blames to explain the chaos we live in and much of it we create . We are surprised for the stupidity of the 21st century man as we believe we have climbed up the ladder and come a long way .Once upon a time few hundred years ago on a planet that was located at the very centre of the universe , was a great scientist named Galileo who figured out that the earth circles the sun and therefore the sun must be the center.The catholic church , believing that humans have been specially created and therefore the earth has to be the center ,forced galileo to recant. 1630′s . The church officially forgave galileo in 1979.So many things happened between , astronomies discovered that even the sun is a small star in a small galaxy in a huge cosmos .This is our reason .Why we are surprised by the italian judge in 2012?

      • Yana: “The church officially forgave galileo in 1979″

        Shouldn’t it have been Galileo’s descendants officially forgiving the Catholic Church? What an upside down world.

  14. How much will we be able to fine the UN once it becomes apparent that there is no such thing as Man-made global warming ? I bet it will be nowhere near the billions paid in taxes , or the billions wasted in futile wind-mill investments .

  15. The good people of Northern Iceland are presently being rocked by one of the largest earthquake swarms in over 30 years……They were able to predict that there was some initial activity this time last week, but no one could have guessed what was about to happen next….and these folks are real experts http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/

    The Italians should jail the Pope for failing to predict their quake….it is equally illogical

  16. As is the norm in Italy the scientists will appeal (apparently every primary court decision can be appealed and, I believe, upwards of 50 % are changed) and no doubt the decision will in the fullness of time be reversed.

    It is still amazing that no one in the higher levels of the Financial sector in the UK has been charged with any criminality for the fiasco in the early 2000′s (actually for many decades).

  17. In 1996 Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand erupted causing much chaos, pollution and volcanery. I lived 110 miles away and the eruption rattled my windows. The day before it erupted the seismologists and vulcanologists that had been monitoring the mountain’s rumblings for weeks, walked off the mountain, downgraded the threat and said it was all finished making noises. No harm done. Few countries in the world are more equipped than New Zealand to understand earthquakes and the like and no-one could have known of or predicted the scale, strength and timing of the one that struck and flattened Christchurch and killed so many of our people. This verdict is terrible. As an aside, did you know that the 2 of the three biggest volcanic eruptions of the past 2 million years were in New Zealand?

  18. Does this mean we can prosecute and jail the IPPC and the people at the University of Easy Access who predicted however much warming and however much sea-level rise when in fact there’s been none of either?

    No?

    Didn’t think so; it doesn’t work that way, does it.

  19. The 1st world is becoming a culture of fantasists and coupled with poor standards of education and a deliberate dumbing-down of the sheeple, science is being eclipsed by mumbo-jumbo and woo.

    We now live in a society where the belief in a prescribed fairy story about mythical omni-potent aliens are given credence by the law – unless of course they are the stories of the indigenous population!

    The sheeple are taught that ‘evryone is a winner’ and fed a diet of celebrity and ‘entertainment’ that, with the assistance of CGI, is so unfeasible as to be unbelievable to anyone with an ounce of common sense. But the young watch this drivel and they believe it and their entire childhood is founded on a false understanding of how the world works and how to moderate their expectations.

    I am a layman, but I have a basic understanding of geo-tectonics and I am sufficiently aware that nature has a mind of its own and steadfastly refuses to be put in a box by humanity.

    Should the Italian scientists have been more pessimistic in their forecast? Perhaps, but I would not be suprised if their original opinion was more pessimistic but was ‘tempered’ by their political masters who saw the upheaval of an evacuation as too damaging financially.

    If the scientists had stuck to their guns and requested an evacuation that turned out to be a false alarm – they would have been castigated also.

    I expect the number of scientists willing to speak up in Italy has just fallen through the floor. The only losers will be those who die in future disasters for want of warning.

  20. Because all the pundits are saying there will be a stock market crash, the world will end 20/12/2012. I have sold all my assets and bought gold, The only thing i have done is booked a world cruise starting December 1st. leaving from Southampton.
    Now my two questions, 1] where can i leave my gold? and 2] who do i sue for compensation if the world does not end 20/12/2012?

  21. “…..guilty, and the persecution of those unfortunate enough to find themselves In the Frame. But as cases involving the British police have shown over and over again, those in the frame have an uncomfortable habit of turning out to be innocent.”

    Nah, sorry John but you go too far there. The big problem is the infection of the police force with the PC virus. without that they’d be to fit up criminals as and when the mood takes -and in most cases they were right.

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