Those scientists in Italy are NOT  being sent to jail for failing to predict an earthquake, despite what is being reported on many websites.  Here's what Nature News (which I assume has its facts straight) reported about the trial:

"The prosecution’s closing arguments lasted from Monday morning until Tuesday afternoon, and were shared between two prosecutors, Fabio Picuti and his assistant Roberta D’Avolio. Picuti made it clear that the scientists are not accused of failing to predict the earthquake. “Even six-year old kids know that earthquakes can not be predicted,” he said. “The goal of the meeting was very different: the scientists were supposed to evaluate whether the seismic sequence could be considered a precursor event, to assess what damages had already happened at that point, to discuss how to mitigate risks.” Picuti said the panel members did not fulfill these commitments, and that their risk analysis was “flawed, inadequate, negligent and deceptive”, resulting in wrong information being given to citizens."

This seems like a much more reasonable case than the one being bandied about in many places online, which is the ludicruous "scientists jailed for failing to predict earthquake".  Of course, this doesn't mean that the case being prosecuted is correct.  But it at least seems like a reasonable question to be addressing.  (Regardless, manslaughter seems like the wrong thing to be charged with.)

Assuming Nature hasn't got this wrong, the internet failed badly this afternoon.  I saw story after story about how these scientists were being jailed for failing to predict an earthquake.  And those stories appear to have all been false, an echo chamber amplifying a catchy but false narrative.

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/09/porsecution-asks-for-four-year-sentence-in-italian-seismology-trial.html
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