Tuesday, October 23, 2012

step backward for uncertainty

Reuters reports that six Italian earthquake scientists have been jailed for manslaughter for "failing to give adequate warning of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L'Aquila."

Prediction of events with some component of randomness is necessarily uncertain—to think otherwise is to misunderstand the whole endeavor. The fault here is not with the scientists, for predicting incorrectly, but with the public for believing this prediction came with certainty. To suppress predictors of random events for predicting incorrectly is to court ignorance and block progress, as it discourages the very research which will one day improve our ability to predict such events.

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