Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Science and the Law

The September 2011 edition of Nature includes a fascinating look at the background to a trial underway in Italy. Authorities there have indicted several scientists and politicians for failing to warn the public adequately about an earthquake in the ancient town of L'Aquila that took the lives of over 300 people in 2009. The case raises interesting questions about (1) how the media and government officials communicate the often nuanced positions of scientific authorities, (2) the ways in which statements by scientists are influenced by the public, and (3) the extent to which people are willing to trust authority.