Advances in legal seismology

Not only was the 2009 Italian earthquake predictable. The Italian judge who sentenced four scientists to prison for not predicting it knows how to do the trick.

On the basis of a technical assessment, Grieco wrote that the quake could have been expected, ”having occurred in what is defined as a return period, meaning the period of time in which event repetition is expected for the L’Aquila area”. Grieco said L’Aquila’s return period for earthquakes ”has been indicated to be about (every) 325 years from the year 1000,” citing scientific consultant Luis Decanini.

So here’s how it works. The court picks a consultant, accepts his opinion and lays out an algorithm for earthquake forecasting. It’s every 325 years, stupid.

Russia has not gone that far. It has broken the path in another direction, using dicta of the AD692 Trullo Council in convicting Pussy Riot. Like the Italian judge, they accepted the opinion of “experts” who referenced Articles 62 and 75 from that council (also known as the fifth-sixth, Quinisext, or Penthekte).

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