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The Earthquake in L’Aquila: A Reason to Tremble

Italy has issued a warning to those who may be tempted to act irresponsibly in their professions. In April 2009, L’Aquila – a city in Italy – was devastated by an earthquake that ended up killing 309 people. Unfortunately, had 7 men tasked with estimating the risks of this earthquake taking place done their jobs correctly, people would have been accurately informed of the potential risks of an earthquake hitting, and been able to take measures to get out of harm’s way. Now those 7 men have been prosecuted and sentenced to 6 years in prison on account of negligence resulting in manslaughter. While few argue that this sort of negligence is unacceptable, it would be wise to consider the impact this may have on scientists who are required to engage in public discussion and weighty calls in the future.

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