a (shaky) date for your diaries

By Alison Campbell 20/02/2011


I noticed an intriguing headline in Saturday’s Waikato Times: “Quake forecast a horoscope.” On reading further I found it led to an article based on a prediction by Ken Ring, who claims to be able to use the Moon’s position relative to Earth to predict the weather, that there would be an earthquake somewhere in the South Island on March 20th. The article also quoted GNS Science seismologist, Laura Bland, who described this as a ‘horoscope’. (I was rather surprised – although I suppose I shouldn’t have been – to discover a number of astrology websites claiming to be able to predict earthquakes when I used the headline as a search string.)

A reasonable description. New Zealand’s not called the ‘shaky isles’ for nothing, as Geonet data show, and the Alpine Fault is seismically very active. So the odds are reasonably good that there’ll be a quake centred somewhere along the Fault, or a subsidiary fault at right-angles to it, on or around the 20th of March. After all, we have earthquakes most days – it’s just that most are too small to be noticeable. In other words, a fairly easy call to make, & so non-specific that it would be very easy to claim success, in the same way that horoscopes in the papers are so general that someone reading them is bound to find something that could apply to them. (And similar to the claim that earthquakes are most likely in the period a week either side of the new or full moon… Incidentally, scientists don’t deny that the moon’s gravity has no impact on seismological events – but they do dispute that these events can be accurately predicted.)

But – I see that Mr Ring has given a bit more detail: “It could be one for the history books.” From which I would assume that he thinks this will be a big , damaging quake, because the little ones won’t gain that status. So I guess we will have to ‘watch this space’.

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A commenter on the Silly Beliefs website has posed a number of well-formulated questions concerning this particular prediction. I’ve pasted them below (for those who follow the link, scroll down to comment #107). They were asked on September 29 last year.

Ken, I neither believe or disbelieve what you write and predict but I would like to make my mind up. Hence I refer to the following paragraph on your site regarding the prediction of an earthquake.

“Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons. This date is the closest fly-past the moon does in all of 2011. The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury. All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.”

Could you answer the following please

1. Quote “Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons.” (The same reasons being the moon etc as you explain in your article)

Q.1.1 Ken – risk or certainty? If it’s not a certainty – why not? If it doesn’t happen – why would that be?

2. Quote “The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury.”

Q. 2.1 Why probably an east west failure as opposed to a North South failure or South North failure?

Q. 2.2 You say probably – what is the probability factor – 50%, 25%, 90% or what?

Q. 2.3 How do you know that the only east / west fault lines are in Marlborough and N Canterbury and why do you say that when the recent quake in Canterbury was on an unknown east west fault line that had been dormant for 16000 years. Hence there may well be others “undiscovered”. You see also looking at a map of known fault lines in New Zealand I can see several more east to west lines in Southland, North Otago, McKenzie Country – some in the Waiarapa, some in Poverty Bay, Central North Island, etc.

Q. 2.4 Having established that there are more east west fault lines outside of the Marlborough and N Canterbury areas, and based on your knowledge of nodes, latitudes, longitudes, perigees, lunar equinox , moon positioning, moon shots, sun spots, which region that has east west fault lines would be more vulnerable on the 20 March – Marlborough, North Canterbury, McKenzie Country, Southland, Poverty Bay, Wairapa, or Central North Island and why?

Q. 2.5 Which of the above areas is in the narrower band of latitude you refer to and what is the longitude?

3. Quote “All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.”

Q. 3.1 On what basis do you say it could be another for the history books? What makes you think it could be a history book event? There must be some reason why you write that.

Q. 3.2 There are four types of crustal block movements that can occur along faults in an earthquake – normal, reverse, sinistral strike slip and dextral strike slip. From a moonshot straight through the centre of the earth targeting New Zealand perspective – which type of fault do you think would be more vulnerable taking into account all the factors you have published on your site re the prediction of the 20 March 2011 event?

Q 3.3 Please provide a definition of what a “moon shot” is.

You can follow the SB thread further for some rather equivocal answers.


0 Responses to “a (shaky) date for your diaries”

    • Yup – & the comments thread for the Silly Beliefs item I linked to gives more evidence of same. Hard to see why he continues to get media coverage…

  • As to my accuracy, look on my almanac page 88 to read of Cyclone Atu, 22nd-28th of this month.
    As to Silly Beliefs, they make money from dissing alternative practitioners, attracting a readership then selling book recommendations. They hate Irish, Jews, Catholics, psychic entertainers, immigrants, anybody not mainstream. They also sell weather to big companies and I am competition.
    As to the 20 March, the “one for the history books” comment came from an interview with Marcus Lush. I was just agreeing with him to be obliging. I do not hold that 20 March WILL bring a severe earthquake to Canterbury, but an extreme weather event is possible that day worldwide, and an earthquake within 500kms of the Alpine Fault is a risk on that date. More likely to be a 4-6mag. Earthquakes cause fault lines as feet cause footprints and worry causes wrinkles, not vice versa. That is why new fault lines are discovered each time there is a big jolt.

    • You’ve made the ‘moonshot on March 20′ claim elsewhere – it was not simply a case of agreeing with Marcus Lush. You seemed then to be fairly definite about this event being an earthquake, so what evidence has led you to include the possibility of severe weather instead or as well. And I notice you use the phrase severe weather worldwide – do you really mean what this appears to say ie that there will be a global ‘severe weather’ event? Or is it simply phrased so that a severe weather event somewhere in the world could be counted as a successful prediction? If the latter, most of us here could make similar predictions with a reasonable chance of success, given the relative frequency of things like severe rainfall/thunderstorms/tornadoes. (It would be useful if ‘severe’ was also defined so we know exactly what is being discussed here.)

  • Ken Ring,

    Just bringing my comment from Alison’s original blog over here, could you confirm that the reason that you call the moon a planet is because you are an old-style astrologer? (See comments 143 & 144 on the Silly Beliefs thread.)

    Regards your allegations about the purpose of the Silly Beliefs site, their “about” page would suggest otherwise.

    You’re welcome to present your evidence for your claim that they make money recommending books. From their words it seems obvious that they’ve simply listed what they’ve found useful so that others might know. None of the books are linked to any other site, so they can’t be earning via link referral advertising.

    More on topic, quite a few geologists after the Sep. 4th earthquake pointed out that earth movements do recur along existing fault lines (once they’re created, they become existing weaknesses).

  • You state on your blog that This argument is full of holes in logic. To say eruptions have nowhere to go except upwards, therefore the Southern Alps result, is to say you have a mysterious crack in the ocean floor, formed somehow in the distant past, that is waiting patiently for an event to unfold with enough energy and heat to build itself up into a mountain range. It is such a weak case that geologists introduce a bit of biffo. They say that in the process the tectonic plates grind, rotate and square off against each other, the immense forces building until every 250 to 300 years or so a sudden movement releases the pent-up pressures. This, they say is the Alpine Fault, which last moved significantly in 1717. So we do not have the notion of underground magna bubbling through from the molten mantle at all. According to these geologists it is the heat generated from rocks in the land crust on top of the molten mantle, rubbing together that causes the molten lava. So what of the actual molten core that lies beneath the earth. Is that another system? And how and when does that stuff get out? And why do some earthquakes occur at a depth of 300kms, when the land crust is less than 50kms deep?

    I question that any fault line was ever there first, before any molten matter decided to bubble through it. It is more likely that the molten mantle bubbles through wherever it wants to, and this creates a weak section in the crust, through which later eruptions may follow if stresses occur in the immediate vicinity. There is no way the Alps caused the Alpine Fault line which then goes on to cause more earthquakes within 500kms of it. That is like saying footprints create feet and Walking Clubs, or wrinkles cause worry and family tragedies. Maybe in a world in reverse, but not this one. Otherwise a sunburnt arm would cause the sun to increase in heat. It does not mean earthquakes may not still occur around the same area of known fault lines. But forever frequenting the same dairy that sold you a winning lottery ticket won’t guarantee you another win. You just got lucky once. Seeing a fault line host a new earthquake does not mean the fault line caused it. It may mean the earthquake is opening up a new old wound because of internal machinations deep in the molten core directly under that old wound. That is a long long way from being causal!(http://www.predictweather.co.nz/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=337&amp%3Btype=home)

    This suggests a rather deep (shaky?) misunderstanding of plate tectonics.

  • And I’m sorry, but one instance of getting it right (something about Cyclone Atu) does not constitute accuracy, it constitutes a lucky guess. When you guess all the time, eventually you’ll get something right.

    And you’d think anyone who’s able to predict massive earthquakes would have had the decency to warn the people of Christchurch today.

    • @ tirohia – you beat me to it; I was about to make that very point. You would surely expect someone ‘knowing’ that this was going to hit Christchurch to have made all possible efforts to let people know.

    • Well, quite apart from the fact it was 6.3 & a day ‘late': as Tirohia says – did you warn? Publishing vague prognostications on a website isn’t a warning if few of those you ‘warn’ see it.

  • Ken,

    You still haven’t answered my question.

    It’s very relevant. Your “work” is not based on science as you to make out (as readily seen by your repeated basic errors). Hence my question.

    What I think of you trying to write as you have at a time like this is unprintable. (re: today’s earthquake.)

  • Grant, I agree, this is not the time to write about today’s tragedy. I would rather not answer any questions or challenges about it please? Today is the most catstrophic day in out history. I cannot even begin to comprehend how it must be for some. No words of sympathy are enough. I never shy away fro questions but perhaps we can resume this discussion when there is not the need to devote all available energy to the people of Christchurch who have lost so much.

  • Ken, I think most of the discussion here has been about general claims you’ve made rather than about today’s dreadful event. It would be good if we could return to those claims & the evidence to support them.

  • Grant, I agree, this is not the time to write about today’s tragedy

    But you did and thence my earlier remarks.

    I would rather not answer any questions or challenges about it please?

    My question has nothing to do with today’s earthquake as you know.

    I never shy away fro[m] questions

    I asked twice before without reply, but you replied to others.

  • Tirohia
    Well I did on 14 Feb as I have already explained.
    http://www.predictweather.co.nz/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=334&type=home
    I said expect a 7+ in a week’s time

    Given the nature of the magnitude scale this is a miss also. You also claimed it being in the Ring of Fire where “80% of all major earthquakes seem to occur”. This is hardly predictive. It’s playing the odds.

    I’m not Civil Defense, no one pays me.

    No one pays you? You claim to have this information and with hold it because “no one pays” you? Good strong moral ground there.

    I can warn but people have to act on it.

    Don’t you have a weekly radio spot? You could have used that.

    You could have actually claime these as predictions in your post on your site. you specifically say “These are opinions and not predictions“. By the way, posting this sort of information on your own site could not be considered as a fair warning in any way, shape or form.

  • Alison, Gold and Jacobs, face the facts Ken Ring’s predictions have been pretty accurate using his method – much more so than what scientists (huh!) are able to tell us. I’d say he’s got you all baffled because he doesn’t work within the square that you lot do – people are laughing at this so-called description of an aftershock – fact it it’s another earthquake and maybe there could be worse to come in March …

  • If I and many others have been able to read Ken Ring’s warnings – then so should you lot – but no you all work within the square and can’t see beyond your own myopic ideas.

  • Tirohia, Given his track record of predicting the weather, I imagine there is very little to worry about.

    Great comment Tirohia – I’d be worried about March if I were you.

    • Ken’s ‘predictions’ for March are so vague that I have no doubt you & he & others will claim success no matter what happens. While he’s earlier been reasonably willing to give some level of (I hesitate to say ‘specific’) detail (a ‘moonshot’ will hit the South Island on March 20), in this thread & elsewhere he’s now pulled back to say that it could be extreme weather, probabbly ‘extreme weather’ worldwide – & my question on what that actually means remains unanswered, & “an earthquake within 500km of the Alpine Fault”. On that last one – this would encompass most of New Zealand, & as there are earthquakes most days (even though most are too small to be noticed), well hey! success guaranteed. This isn’t ‘prediction’.

  • All of the bloggers here have been wrong and can’t admit it. Nobody thanks a prophet especially when he’s proved right.

    Scientists are limited to the things they can actually prove and see in front of their faces – when things don’t fit into a nice, neat, tidy square … they can only sit and say … nothing but hit out at someone who got it right … there are many things in this world that happen every day that just don’t fit into the square box that is science.

  • The following was on Ken’s blog for 14 February:

    “It means ths area of the sun that corresponds to NZ is again seeing some activation. The window of 15-25 February should be potent for all types of tidal action, not only kingtides but cyclone development and ground movement. The 18th may be especially prone. The possible earthquake risk areas are N/S faults until after 16 February, then E/W faults until 23rd. The moon will be full on the 18th and in perigee on the 19th. This perigee will be the fifth closest for the year. The 15th will be nodal for the moon. On the 20th the moon crosses the equator heading south. Strong winds and swells may arrive around 22nd to NZ shorelines.
    These are opinions and not predictions, based on observation of repeating lunar patterns. Full moon+perigee in summer brings a lot of ground heat which aids the development of cyclonic systems, whether gales, tropical lows, tropical depressions or fully named cyclones. The gales bring the destructive winds that dry out the ground in some places to create dust nuisances in Australia, or if combined with rain brings localised flooding. Full moon+perigee has also been labelled “earthquake weather”, as it can create increased high pressure on the surface of the land, and this has been suggested to act as a possible trigger separating tectonic plates.”

    That’s close enough for me – when scientists can start predicting earthquakes with any accuracy then I’ll listen to them. In the meantime Ken is as good as it gets and if I was living in Christchurch I’d be keeping an eye on his blog.

  • And it’s interesting, Alison, he didn’t cover himself by saying 1 to 30 January or 25 to 28 February – he said 15 to 25 February – that is pretty accurate in my book and no amount of scoff can change that.

  • Alison
    Yes, I “pulled back” because I was threatened with violence on one of the blogs, for scaremongering. I was told if I didn’t shut up I would be dealt with. So I just kept my work confined to my website for a while. We live in an age where there is not much tolerance left of alternative viewpoints. Neither is there respect of them. I have posted predictions. They are just my opinions and needn’t threaten anybody any more than the Metservice when they warn of a cyclone or a flood. You don’t have to read them. If you have your own opinions, please share them in a positive atmosphere. But your posts suggest you are feeling personally threatened by what I write and say.

  • Stop making pathetic excuses, Ken. You posted stuff here and on other forums well after yesterday’s earthquake was common knowledge. That speaks for itself. Little wonder people have told you where to put yourself. Yet we don’t seem to be getting any apology, do we? Just more excuses.

    As for this silly remark:

    But your posts suggest you are feeling personally threatened by what I write and say.

    Threatened, no, and how ridiculous to even suggest it. But offended, yes, and of course.

    You still haven’t answered my question.

  • This quake is different from the previous one in that there has been significant loss of life. So unlike the previous quake, where there was a sense of luck and possibly imperviousness, this quake will affect the psyche of everyone in Christchurch.
    I would be very wary of talk of predictions etc, as such “predictions” listed above are so vague they are useless (and favoured by probablity anyway). The risk of a public backlash is very likely, so I think Ken is very wise to pull back.
    As a Cantabrian who is in Auckland, and who has just spent an hour organising a flight for my partner to get out of Christchurch, I am more concerned with how many funerals I may have to go to next week, rather than “opinions” which were unable to save any lives.

  • Yes, I “pulled back” because I was threatened with violence on one of the blogs, for scaremongering. I was told if I didn’t shut up I would be dealt with.

    Ken, can you provide a link to that please?

  • @ scientistshuh: as I’m sure you’re aware, scientists don’t claim to be able to predict earthquakes – any apparent coincidences between ‘prediction’ and ‘event’ would be just that, coincidence.

  • Full moon+perigee in summer brings a lot of ground heat – why? How does the moon’s position affect surface temperature? Without a plausible mechanism this is simply hand-waving.

    and again: Full moon+perigee has also been labelled “earthquake weather”, as it can create increased high pressure on the surface of the land,and this has been suggested to act as a possible trigger separating tectonic plates.

    OK, citations please – who has been doing the suggesting, & on the basis of what evidence? This is important as what’s being suggested in this quote goes against our understanding of what drives plate tectonics. Please don’t go into the ‘scientists don’t want to know’ thing – scientists are quite happy to review their explanations in the light of new evidence, & more than once this has led to a Nobel prize for the person proposing the new ideas. (Google Helicobacter pylori + Nobel for an example.)

  • @ Grant:

    “But your posts suggest you are feeling personally threatened by what I write and say.”

    Threatened, no, and how ridiculous to even suggest it. But offended, yes, and of course.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself.

  • face the facts Ken Ring’s predictions have been pretty accurate using his method

    What you’re doing here is called confirmation bias. You’re seeing patterns where you want to. You call his “predictions” accurate while ignoring all his misses.

  • @scientistshuh
    I’d say he’s got you all baffled because he doesn’t work within the square that you lot do

    “doesn’t work within the square”: Do you mean he ignores the principles of the Scientific Method? If so, what do you suggest the Scientific Method be replaced with?

    If I and many others have been able to read Ken Ring’s warnings – then so should you lot

    Argument from fallacy. This assumes you and many others are right. Many people with better qualifications than you, I or Ken say you’re not. Until that changes I’ll support the majority of people knowledgeable in the field(s).

    Scientists are limited to the things they can actually prove and see in front of their faces

    Correct. The point you don’t seem to get though is that this is their strength, not their weakness.

    If you can’t prove something through experiment or hypothesis leading to theoretical modeling that fits the observations then what ever you come up with is nothing more than guessing. This is also frequently referred to as “making shit up”, “magic” or “God did it”.

    Regardless, it’s intelectual laziness.

    That’s close enough for me

    And there’s the clincher. “Close enough for you”. Fortunately there are people out there with higher, more rigorous standards of proof.

  • This is perhaps a good opportunity for some knoweldgable seismologist to hop in… But I can perhaps shed a little light

    (1) Ken Ring’s theory is not new by any measure. I recall seeing comment on a similar theory many many years ago and it being dismissed on the lack of supporting evidence – the theory has been tested and found wanting

    (2) the strongest tidal forces on the earth arise from the sun and moon, if there was any effect from the planets there would certainly been some correlation between quakes and tides, there is none

    (3) you can check the geonet site yourself, there are many small quakes daily across NZ, with no discernable increase or decrease in numbers or intensity associated with panets, sun or moon.

    (4) I understand GNS get mail daily from all sorts of nutters predicting earthquakes on practically every day (theyare all correct of course becuase there are quakes daily!). Kens stuff belongs in the nutters box.

    regards, Rod

  • Ken’s advertently sent a couple of responses to people’s comments to me via e-mail rather than posting them to the comments thread. Because a subsequent e-mail to me makes it clear that he intended his comments for the blog I’ve repeated them here, along with excerpts from the posts he was responding to.

    Gold wrote (following a statement from Ken that he’d been threatened on another website): Ken, can you provide a link to that please?
    Ken responded: No, I reported it and it was removed.

    I wrote (making the point that scientists are open to alternative explanations provided these are supported by evidence): more than once this has led to a Nobel prize for the person proposing the new ideas. (Google Helicobacter pylori + Nobel for an example.)
    Ken responded: The Nobel is political. Why else give it to Yasser Arafat and Al Gore?
    To which I would answer that neither of these individuals received a Nobel in the area of medical science. (The Peace Prize could well be viewed as ‘political’ but it’s hard to see how recognition for those who demonstrated the cause of stomach ulcers could be seen in the same light.)

    In the same comment I’d asked for evidence supporting Ken’s claims about the relationship between the moon’s orbital position and temperatures/pressures at the Earth’s surface: OK, citations please – who has been doing the suggesting, &on the basis of what evidence?
    Ken responded: Full moon+perigee heat effect is explained fully in my free pdf book
    This is not really what I was asking for – self-referential citations of this sort don’t count as supporting evidence for such unusual claims. What we’d like to see is evidence (in the form of published papers) that the claims have a firm basis in science and that their proposed underlying mechanism has been deemed worthy of serious study.

  • The Peace prize has always been political by it’s nature (I’ve read that the terms for it can be viewed as intentionally political). That’s not true of the science prizes terms; there is politics for these, of course, but not of the kind Ken refers to. Besides, response avoids the point as Alison was saying: his reply focuses on “authority” rather than evidence.

  • I just want to return to the issue of the accuracy of these ‘predictions’ & the basis on which they are made. Back in October last year, Ken, you were saying that it was unusual to have one large quake followed by another in the same area. (http://www.sillybeliefs.com/ring-rc.html#commentring-4) More recently you have effectively suggested quite the opposite. So – what’s changed? Presumably your initial opinion was based on your reading of the position & movement of the Moon, planets, & starrs. Now, the Moon is still in its usual place, the planets haven’t changed their courses – & if the stars do it’s going to be a very long time indeed before we know about it. So what was the basis for your reversal of opinion?

  • Ken has responded (again via e-mail – Ken, PLEASE post your responses here rather than sending them to me personally):

    Normally no, or the Napier earthquake would gave repeated, also Edgecumbe, Inangahua etc before now. This lot is different. See my website articles as to why. What would Silly beliefs know? They are not scientists, just bully boys.

    Well, Ken, this doesn’t answer the question. You’ve said previously that I never shy away from questions, but that’s exactly what you’re doing here. There are a number of outstanding, unanswered questions that you do appear to be shying away from. I don’t want to wade through your website articles; I am simply asking you to respond – here – to the specific questions that you’ve been asked.

    As for your comments about Silly Beliefs – the various statements they quoted (& I linked to) come directly from your website. This can hardly be construed as bullying.

  • @ wainscotting: well, on his website Ken says: Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons. This date is the closest fly-past the moon does in all of 2011. The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury. All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books. (http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=306&type=home) From this & comments he’s made on Silly Beliefs this seems to mean that in his opinion the linear relationship between the moon & the earth’s core is such that it will trigger a major event. At least, that was his opinion back on September 7 2010; as I’ve noted, he’s not so ‘precise’ about these things now.

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