View Full Version : Should scientists be held responsible for their actions or inactions.

21st Sep 2011, 08:43
If medical researchers went on record as stating that a new strain of an influenza virus wasn't dangerous and a few hundred thousand people died, should they bear some responsibility for the deaths?

If there were massive mining subsidence somewhere, and a whole village disappeared hundreds of feet underground with a significant number of deaths, should the engineers/geologists associated with it be held accountable?

BBC News - Italy scientists on trial over L'Aquila earthquake (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14981921) , which is a similar to the above events.

As aircrew we accept full responsibility for our actions. To what extent should other professionals be equally responsible for their actions or inactions?

21st Sep 2011, 09:07
The difference is a lot of scientists are working on lack of information and a lot of understanding of the exact physics involved.

Where as an engineer may build and make judgments on well understood physics. A pilot may have a well set out set of circumstances to make judgments on. There are always outs in laws to allow for unusual situations in the previous situations.

On the other hand geophysics and a lot of the other sciences where we would like to have better understanding are nowhere near enough exact to give out warnings and advice with large confidence level. There was some tremors, well you can bet there was going to be a big one sometime, in this case it looks like they where a precursor.

If you ever wanted and understanding on why all the insane laws and erring on the side of caution comes from this is it. What will happen if they get convicted is they will put in a system that say if this happens do this, it will have a large margin of error. After many false alarms the people will just ignore it.

21st Sep 2011, 09:09
Yep. Better start evacuating California in anticipation. Damn scientists are hiding something.

Standard Noise
21st Sep 2011, 09:24
If scientists tell us that something is happening to our planet's atmosphere, say, that it's warming up and man is the root cause, and as a result of that we are all end up paying green taxes (in the guise of APD, increased fuel duty on petrol and diesel, domestic fuels and to pay for green energy ie metal windmills etc) by our over zealous governments, then when it finally emerges that they were wrong and the earth is heating up (or cooling down depending on who you believe) as part of it's natural cycle as it has done for millions of years, can we sue them for the 'green taxes' we've all had to pay out needlessly?

green granite
21st Sep 2011, 09:44
If they twist, falsify or otherwise manipulate data to try and prove a theory or deliberately block research that counters said theory from publication then yes they should be prosecuted. Prosecution for failing to predict something would soon fill the courts up with weather forecasters, prediction is not science, it's guess work that takes into account all known facts.

As I understand the Italian situation, there had been quite a few minor tremors but these scientists said "Don't worry, nothing's about to happen." Had they said "We don't think anything will happen but we cannot be certain of that." People might have taken suitable precautions.

tony draper
21st Sep 2011, 10:01
Tiz part of the human psych to cast around for someone to blame when something untoward happens,the mistake the global warmist made was blaming every body,now had they just blamed the French everybody would have believed them.

21st Sep 2011, 10:15
A lawyer for Mr Eva, Alfredo Biondi, said the trial was not credible. "This is a trial which opens on very shaky foundations. You cannot put science on trial," he said.

Who could have predicted that?

Still, that does raise another potential use of this law. Should lawyers who claim their client is innocent be punished if a jury subsequently decides that their client was in fact guilty?

tony draper
21st Sep 2011, 10:19
He should try telling that to Mr Scopes of Tennessee.:rolleyes:

Load Toad
21st Sep 2011, 10:27
Perhaps because science is sometimes wrong or inexact we should ignore it and go to live in caves and worship the sun god and offer our children as sacrifices to appease the earth god...and stuff like that. And then where science is right we should ignore as that as well - no wheel, no asprin, no vaccines - just myths & superstitions to rule the day.

Takan Inchovit
21st Sep 2011, 10:28
Should scientists be held responsible for their actions or inactions.

Certainly, but are their findings considered tactical, strategic or political? While we're at it lets include religious organisations.

tony draper
21st Sep 2011, 11:14
Lets face it Science has become a tad showbizzy these last few decades and cheapened itself as a result, instead awaiting the peer reviews they leap for the thirty second "New Research Indicates" 30 second slot at the end of the news.

Takan Inchovit
21st Sep 2011, 11:24
they leap for the thirty second "New Research Indicates" 30 second slot at the end of the news.

Purely a push for obtaining funding for someones private little venture.

21st Sep 2011, 16:18
"This is a trial which opens on very shaky foundations.

Did Mr Biondi mean to use such a pun for a trial pertaining to earthquakes?

21st Sep 2011, 17:32
The weather forecast was wrong yesterday and today. Who do I sue?

tony draper
21st Sep 2011, 17:36
Didn't someone once sue God? they made a movie on the premise anyway,thingy was in it, that Scotsman with the purple beard.

21st Sep 2011, 17:52
Everyone alive today will be dead within three hundred years.

There. That's my prediction and my disclaimer.

Oh, and it might rain tomorrow, but I can't promise that.

21st Sep 2011, 17:59
True. There's only three certain things in life.

Taxes, death, and nurses.

tony draper
21st Sep 2011, 18:00
Three hundred?,that be a bit optimistic Mr Vis, even allowing for medical progress I recon 140 years should suffice to see all we extant at the moment orf.

21st Sep 2011, 18:04
Being a pilot for my entire adult life, using my physical age, not my mental one, at lot of people seem to think I know a lot about weather. Well, in fact I do as does nearly every professional pilot.

So, people come up to me as ask things like; is it going to rain?

I always reply, yes.

Think about it for a while. :p

21st Sep 2011, 18:17
Always a 50-50 chance there con......

it's gonna, or it's not

21st Sep 2011, 18:23
Always a 50-50 chance there con......

it's gonna, or it's not

Nope, ya didn't get it. I never say when it is going to rain. :p

Shoot, it's always raining somewhere. ;)


"Is it going to rain?"


I've always been 100% correct. :E

21st Sep 2011, 18:36
I've always been 100% correct

.....not according to Mrs. Pilot :=

and I did get it. I had my own play on words I was trying to slip in there.....

21st Sep 2011, 18:46
That this case ever got into court ought to get the Italian people asking this:

"What the hell is our legal system up to?
What are we paying those people for?"

Earthquakes are difficult to predict. You can get tremors in a lot of different parts of Italy.

Most tremors are not followed by earthquakes. Scientists don't know which ones will be, and which ones won't be. The state of the art is not that far advanced. I am sure the seismologists are trying to get a handle on that, but they are dealing with difficult to observe and predict actions well below the surface of the earth.

What has advanced the most is the speed with which one can get the word out once things go all jumbly, and thus the speed at which a response can be put together to help those in the quake area.

Court isn't were this belongs. It belongs in a research lab.

21st Sep 2011, 20:05
If they prosecute scientists for getting it wrong, what are they going to do to bankers, economists and politicians?

22nd Sep 2011, 00:23
What the hell is our legal system up to?

Beats prosecuting the mafiosi, and a whole lot safer too.

22nd Sep 2011, 00:28
If seismologists, and their ilk, are unable to assist (predict) prior to an earthquake, and are of little use during or following an earthquake, then in these austerity times why are we paying them?

It's a rhetorical question, but nevertheless if European governments are on their uppers debt-wise, then do they really need astro-physicists investigating Exo-planets and black holes, physicists looking into the presence or otherwise of anti-matter, archeologists and similar writing papers on the demise of the dinosaurs, etc. etc.

If funds are limited would you prefer more policemen on the beat than reading about why Pterodactyls became extinct? More nurses in the hospitals than learning about the specific cause of King Alfred being shot in the eye by a bow and arrow?

If cuts have to be made then should non-immediate realisable benefits academic research bear a significant share?

22nd Sep 2011, 09:25
alisoncc, If we hadn't had decades of space research, sat comms, and spin-offs from astronomical research and development, you wouldn't even have been able to make your post asking why we need it. :ugh:

22nd Sep 2011, 10:20
If the fraud in the Commission that leads to the accounts being qualified every year was sorted out, there would be enough money without cutting anything - except a few Brussels bureaucrats' jobs.