Tuesday, November 6, 2012

L'Aquila Earthquake Scientists - Rightly Convicted?

The opprobrium over the conviction and jailing of the L'Aquila earthquake scientists seems to have been nearly universal in the scientific community, which seems to be convinced that science itself has been put on the dock. However, a friend who is on the science faculty at L'Aquila opines that the convictions were RIGHT, as they were due to failure to communicate risk, rather than the failure of science. Apparently the Risk Committee met, then left without communicating anything themselves (they left it to a non-scientist, who apparently told people to go and drink some wine). While Italy has a proud tradition of ignoring science, this case does not seem to cleanly fit into that category and I think the AAAS, Nature etc maybe rushed too quickly in their condemnations of the judgement.  That doesn't mean I'm in favor of the severity, though. The jail sentences certainly smack of scapegoating  and the general public may not be able to tell the difference between condemning communication failure and condemning science itself.

NOT a voter.

Jeremy Smith's friends on Facebook are all flagging themselves as "I am a voter".
So here's my Facebook response:

"Jeremy Smith is NOT a voter, and has not been for 28 years. The reason he has not voted is that Jeremy has not been allowed to become a citizen anywhere other than the UK despite having spent ten years in one country (France), eight in the second (Germany) and now ten in the third (USA).  During that time he paid a lot of taxes to governments that did not represent him.  In contrast, he has paid nothing to the UK government, whose policies he had the right to vote upon even for fifteen years after having left the country, until the ultimate, global revocation of his right to suffrage.

Ten years must be considered to be rather long for a  'visit' and so Jeremy hesitates to think of himself as a 'visitor'.  Rather,  Jeremy thinks that if somebody lives and pays taxes in a country then they should vote there, and not according to some arbitrary definition of citizenship."