Ken Ring can’t predict earthquakes either

By David Winter 01/03/2011 69


The New Zealand media have done a remarkably good job of covering the Christchurch earthquake. TV, newspapers and radio have all struck the difficult balance between the country’s desperate need to understand what happened on the 22nd and how people are coping with the right that each victim the quake has to privacy in such a terrible time. The media have also shown great restraint with respect to one particular story. Ken Ring, the astrological weather forecaster, claims to have predicted the earthquake. I think Ring, with all his calculations and post-hoc explanations, is the very embodiment of what Richard Feynmann called ’cargo cult science’ – someone who does some of the things scientists do, but fails in the most defining characteristic by not honestly testing his theories against data. I’ve had a little fun at his expense before, but, really; as much as it makes me sad that we live in a world in which Ken Ring can sell his weather forecasts and appear as an ’expert’ on anything in the media, the worst thing his almanac does is take money from people. In the wake the earthquake Ken Ring has done something much more serious. While thousands of people are devastated by a natural disaster, and terrified about what might happen next, Ken Ring claims to have predicted the earthquake of the 22nd and that a much worse one is due in March. So, let’s do what Ring fails to and test his methods against reality.

If Ring had really made an isolated and specific prediction that a destructive earthquake would strike Christchurch on February the 22nd then he might be worth listening to. His claim revolves around this post from his website a little more than a week before the event. Here’s the quotes he’d like you to pick out from that post:

The window of 15-25 February should be potent for all types of tidal action, not only kingtides but cyclone development and ground movement.

Over the next 10 days a 7+ earthquake somewhere is very likely

You might quibble that the Christchurch quake, at magnitude 6.3, was about 5 times less powerful than the M7 event he’d predicted – but I don’t think anyone in Christchurch wants to argue about how strong their quake was. On the face it, it really does look like an amazing coincidence: Ring predicted a quake and it happened. But there is more to it than that, I’ve been through his site and Ring has also predicted earthquakes for, at least, the 24th of September, the 1st and 7th of October the first week in November, the 20th to the 27th of January, the 1st to the 5th and 19th to the 25th of March and the 17th of April. In fact, in one post, giving him the +/- one day he needs in order to claim he predicted the February 22nd quake , he paints more than half of the time between the start of January and the end of March as earthquake risk:

You can add a fair few false negatives to those false positives. In October he claimed the aftershock sequence would die down, missing the major rumble on boxing day and several times he declared that it was unlikely Christchurch would be face another major quake (tragically wrong).

Thanks to the way our brains work, we generally struggle to evaluate theories of causation and claims of prediction fairly. We are too impressed by occasional “hits” and tend to forget the many “misses” which outweigh them. If we want to be rigorous, how should we react to hearing about Ring’s “hit” given the litany of “misses” I list above? As it happens there is a theorem for that. Bayes theorem is one of the most important little pieces of maths going around, because it tells us how to update our beliefs about a given question in light of new evidence, and that’s exactly what we should be trying to do if we want to lead a skeptical life. It is maths, but it’s not too scary. I’m the sort of person that loses contact with scientific papers as soon as ‘Σ’s and ‘∫’s start turning up, so you know if I’m writing this , you can follow it. Before we start, we need to define a couple of terms. Let’s call P(KR) the probability Ken Ring can predict earthquakes and P(Prediction) the probability that Ken Ring would have successfully predicted this earthquake. From that we want to calculate how probable the claim “Ken Ring can predict earthquakes” is given his successful prediction, well call that P(KR|Prediction). Once we have those defined it’s just a little 3rd form algebra:

P(KR|Prediction) = P(Prediction|KR) * P(KR)
P(Prediction)

So, how are we going to replace those terms with numbers? For now, let’s not be one of those close minded skeptical types, ignore how eccentric Ring’s methods and takes the evidence as it stands by saying P(KR) is 50%. P(Prediction|KR) is the probability that Ring would have predicted this quake if his methods work. You might be tempted to says this is 100%, but remember, he missed the Boxing Day aftershock and he’s repeatedly said Christchurch was unlikely to be hit again, so he’s not immune to false negatives either, I’ll be generous and give him 90%. The really interesting bit in Bayes Theorem is the bottom term P(Prediction). If we are being agnostic about Ken Ring’s abilities then we need to estimate this with regard to both the possibility his method has something going for it and the possibility that it doesn’t. We’ve already said that Ring has an 90% chance of predicting an earthquake if his methods work, what’s his chance of ‘successfully’ predicting a quake even if his methods don’t work? This is the most important question you should ask yourself about his claims and it’s where all those false alarms come in. Given the ‘calendar’ above, Ring would have claimed to have predicted the quake if it fell on any of half of the days between January and March. His prediction for February was a little more specific than that, but when you read the post it’s still quite vague: “somewhere”, “in the ring of fire”, “withing 500km of the Alpine fault”. I’m going to say, given the huge number of predictions he’s made, there was about a 30% chance any day that had an earthquake would have been one Ring had previously predicted. To get P(Prediction) we have to balance each scenario like this:

Now, when we put the numbers in like so…

P(KR|Prediction) = 0.9 * 0.5
0.6

…we end up with P(KR|Prediction) being 75%. Ring’s successful prediction still supports the case that his methods work, but it’s hardly the decisive piece of information that allows us to say once and for all that he knows what he’s doing. You almost certainly want to put different numbers than I did in that equation, and you should. The idea is not to convince you a particular value is the right one, but to show you how including those false positives in our assessment of his claim changes the way we update our ideas about it and, by extension, how much stock we should put in his future predictions. There is a Bayesian calculator here for anyone that wants to play around with other numbers, over there P(H) is what we called P(KR), P(D|H) is P(Prediction|KR) and P(D|’H) is the probability Ken Ring got it right by mistake (the one I gave 30%).

Skeptics are often accused of being closed minded for sticking to scientific orthodoxy in the light some piece of evidence or other: “If you would just let this evidence stand by itself you’d see my theory is true!”. Assessing any evidence by itself, without our background of knowledge on a topic, is not being open minded – it’s being willfully ignorant. When we want to compare one theory to another we should use all the evidence available to us, and that includes what we know about how the world works. Ring thinks earthquakes happen when the moon makes its closest approach to the earth (called perigee) and around full and new moons. This next sentence really pains me, but here goes. His theory is not 100% lunacy. The phases of the moon have no effect on the earth [whoops, as pointed out in comments, they kind of do, since they correlate with moons position relative to the sun and contribute to tides, this was included in the models/charts below so doesn’t change their conclusions], but the position of the moon in its orbit just might. As every schoolchild knows, the moon exerts a tidal force on the planet and there really are “land tides”, tiny swells and lulls in the crust of the earth analogous to the ocean’s tides, that ebb and flow through the day. It’s just possible that a fault that has been loading up with pressure for hundreds of years is more likely to give way when then moon is close and the tidal forces are stronger. But think about that for even a second and the problem becomes clear. Even if the moon is sometimes the straw that breaks the camels back at a particular fault, you couldn’t use the moon to predict an earthquake unless you already new a fault was about to go, i.e., the moon could only predict earthquakes when you could already predict an earthquake!

Ken Ring get’s a bit touchy about scientists dismissing his theories out of hand, so let’s look at some data. I actually asked Ring for some help with this, but he is yet to answer my email. Luckily, since the September 4th earthquake Paul Nicholls from Canterbury University has been plotting the intensity of the aftershock sequence. He’s also plotted the two lunar cycles Ring thinks are responsible for the strength of earthquakes: the lunar distance and the moon’s phase. In many ways, this is the data-set in which we are most likely to find support for Ring’s ideas. We know for a fact that the faults around the Canterbury plains are going to be under stress while the land sorts itself out after the upheaval in September. If the moon really was pushing already loaded faults past their breaking point we’d expect to see it in this data. Usually the most important statistical test you can perform on a data-set is having a look at it. This is Paul’s plot from last night, the slimmer of the two waves on the top represents moons orbit (troughs are perigee, the point Ring thinks is most dangerous) and the larger is the moon’s phase (the troughs are new moons).

If you can see any correlation between either of the lunar cycles you’re doing a lot better than me. I decided to dig a littler further, and plot the intensity of each day’s activity against each of the lunar cycles. First the phases of the moon. Remember, Ring thinks new and full moons are the most dangerous, so we expect a curved relationship higher at either end of the x-axis. We find no such thing (in fact, if anything, it’s more dangerous between the new and the full moon):

How about the distance between the earth and the moon? This is the one that makes just a little scientific sense:

This time the relationship at least goes the right way, the quakes seem to be, on average, more powerful when the moon is close. In fact, when you put this data into a model that factors in the general tailing off in earthquake activity following the initial quake, the distance between the moon and the earth is a statistically significant variable with regard to the energy released. And there lies an incredibly important point. “Statistically significant” means unlikely to happen if the null hypothesis (in this case “the moon doesn’t effect earthquakes at all”) was true, it doesn’t mean the result is “powerful”, “meaningful”, or even “capable of explaining a great deal of the variation in the data”. As is often the case, we didn’t really believe our null hypothesis to start with, so it’s no surprise a large data-set found a significant relationship. But the actual effect of the moon is tiny, it explains about 2% of the variation in the data. The feebleness of the moon as a predictor is obvious when you look at the graph – there are plenty of days when the moon is close and there was not much energy released and, equally, there’s a whole lot of days when the moon was far away and there were still magnitude 5 quakes. The moon might well be having an effect on intensity of earthquakes from day to day, but if it can barely explain any of the variance in this data-set, one that was almost designed to test Ring’s theories in the best light, how could it predict an earthquake? It can’t.

Let’s get back to our calculation, last time we started with P(KR) at 50%. I hope you’ll agree, having seen the data, that Ken Ring’s methods are not the least bit plausible. I going to be outrageously generous and say there’s a one in one thousand chance that he can predict earthquakes, so let’s plug that into Bayes Theorem, remembering to update P(Prediction) for this new value too:

P(KR|Prediction) = P(Prediction|KR) * P(KR)
P(Prediction)
= 0.9 *0.001
(0.9*0.001)+(0.3*0.999)

Which gives us a value of 3 in one thousand. Again, you’ll want to put different numbers into the equation, but there’s a really important point here. Whenever we hear evidence for some new claim, “a vaccine caused my child’s autism”, “light behaves as a particle and a wave”, “Ken Ring can predict earthquakes (and another one’s coming)”, we should use that evidence to update our prior knowledge of the world. Sometimes, like the outlandish claim that light can be a particle or a wave depending on how you look at, the evidence will be enough to completely change the we think, more often it will hardly make a blip. I think we can put Ken Ring firmly in the “hardly a blip” category: once you see how implausible his methods are you realise you’d need incredible evidence to believe his predictions and once you see his run of false positives you realise that his “prediction” of last week’s earthquake doesn’t meet that standard.

The people of Christchurch desperately need information. In the next few weeks they want to know if they’ll have to face the terror of last Tuesday again and once they city has pulled itself back up they’ll want to understand the future risks for the city. In a climate of such desperation people have a duty to provide only verifiable information and to explain that information’s limitations. That’s exactly what scientist from GNS and Canterbury University have done when they’ve spoken to the media. Ken Ring, who lambasted GNS for scaring people with a “knee jerk” comment that a magnitude 6 aftershock could be expected after the September earth quake, has not lived up to that duty and I really hope no one takes him seriously.

Note: I know this is a topic people will want to comment on. I’m writing a PhD at the moment and really can’t take time to moderate a comment thread. I’m happy to allow comments, but don’t expect instant replies today, or(at sciblogs) for comments to clear moderation straight away.

The data I used for my graphs was scraped from Paul Nicholls site, I chucked it up on google docs for anyone that’s interested. I’ve also uploaded the R code I used to plot/analyse the data – this is an open access debunking! (BTW, did you know both R and the ggplot library I used to make those graphs were developed by New Zealanders? We grow good geeks here.)


69 Responses to “Ken Ring can’t predict earthquakes either”

  • Ken has also said that earthquakes are more likely a week on either side of the new & full moons. Which covers pretty much every day of the (lunar) month. Easy to claim success on that one.

  • 100% of earthquakes occur on days containing the letter ‘y’.

    Coincidence or basis for a new best selling book… you be the judge…

  • I had thought until today of Ring’s “opinions” as a source of harm based on their potential to stir up fear and as general misinformation. However, after a conversation with an acquaintance in which she said “The moon man said there’ll be two more earthquakes in New Zealand in March and April, and then we’ll be right” I reflected further that there’s a significant risk, too, of false hope before appropriate investigation takes place.

    Ring has a ready-made market for his speculation not just because laypeople reject or don’t understand the difference between his work and science but also because no-one else is predicting earthquakes at a time when people would desperately like the claim to predict earthquakes to be a genuine ability. Ring’s positioning of what he does as “opinions”, not predictions, still enables him to make money and garner fame/notoriety, because he’s positioning himself where science doesn’t go.

    So thanks, David, for putting third-form algebra to work in this way.

  • Thanks for comments everyone.

    Hbird, I was especially pleased to take my 3rd form maths out for a spin because that’s the only maths I have!

  • If we wanted to know how his prediction should affect our assessment of the probability of an earthquake, would we be right in comparing the frequency of his true positives with the frequency of his false positives?

    Could we get straight to P(KR) from the proportion of his predictions that are correct? Does it make sense to ask about KR’s getting it right by mistake? It’s his prediction, and either it is right or wrong.

    As you and others point out, it is the vagueness of his predictions that lends them a false credibility.

    • Mr Bayes.

      I think if just divided Ring’s correct predictions by his total predictions you’d be missing two things: the lengths to which he’ll go to claim a prediction is correct (in the weather article linked above I note he claimed even though he was out by several days, several hundred kilometers and almost an order of magnitude!) and the utter implausibility of his theories.

      I wrote the article from the point of view of someone that’s just head Ken Ring predicted the Christchurch earthquake, and wanted to know from that whether they should believe in his methods.

      (Happy to answer more questions if I’ve not covered the point you were interested in)

  • NIce work mate. Now that Ken Ring is on the ‘world stage’ we can all wait and see if something happens March 20 and April whenever… if nothing happens can we all please dismiss this guy? And weather a biggun does or does not happen around those dates, would it be fair to say we should invest alittle more science to the moons effect over time on our plates anyway?.. (if only we had some sort of orbital satellite that could see tectonic fractures and stresses… sorry for being annectdotal)

  • Thanks for the response David. It would be over to us, not to Mr Ring, to decide whether any of his results were true positives or false positives. That would eliminate any bias that he might have, and his theories about the reasons for the results would be irrelevant.

    That goes for his weather forecasts too, and, to be fair, we should ask the same of the official forecasts if we want to compare their success rates.

    If a person had just heard that Mr Ring had correctly predicted the Christchurch earthquake, their Bayesian question would be, “what is the probability of having an earthquake (call this P(E)) on a day predicted by Mr Ring (call this P(P))?” That is, what is P(E | P) ? Is that the same as your P(KR) ? I think it’s the same question and the answer should be the same, but by a different route.

  • I’m not supporting Ring in any way but a statement you made about lunar phases is incorrect:

    “His theory is not 100% lunacy. The phases of the moon have no effect on the earth, but the position of the moon in its orbit just might”

    The lunar phases do in fact affect tides due to the combined lunar-solar tides. When the Moon is new or full, the lunar tide is in phase with the solar tide and results in spring tides. When the Moon is at quarter phase you get neap tides. So there is a real physical affect associated with the lunar phases. In any case your conclusions remain correct.

  • Can anyone predict from Ring’s data his general level of morality from the specific data he gives by his nonsensical (paid?) eddepredictions?

  • Mr. Ring puts a weather prediction in the Titirangi Tatler ea month. Several times I have checked it off with the actual weather and 90% of the time he is WRONG

  • Woah – I have totally left my 3rd Form math behind… in 3rd Form! :) So am totally lost in the conversation between yoursefl and Mr Bayes. BUT the non algebra part I understood.
    But I also believe that no-one should ‘predict’ these sorts of things at a time when very very vulnerable people are looking for hope and some respite from the hell they are going through.
    Good on you for writing such a black n white article!
    :)

  • Note; Ken Ring was not the only person to have made a prediction for an earthquake around the 22/2… The web site I’m going to refer had also made a prediction more accurate than Mr Rings prediction “date and magnitude range” plus it was up on the website 10 days prior to the February quake.

    Whether this is a total fluke or not… it still makes for interesting reading.

    Here is some research regarding 20/3/11 The moon will only be 15km closer to earth than its closest perigee last year 30/1/2010 distance = “356592 km”, 19/3/11 distance = “356577 km”, the last closest perigee time prior to this was in 1985… NOTE; THERE WERE NO MAJOR EARTHQUAKE DISASTERS IN NZ ON 30/1/2010 OR IN 1985.

    Here is the website link: Earthquake predictions, long term forecasts
    http://www.nextearthquake.com

  • You guys are overlooking a whole bunch of things in your so-called “scientific” approach.
    1. Ken NEVER predicted an earthquake on a specific date.
    2. His theories are not implausible at all, just different and not in accord with current “scientific myths” which scientists present as dogmatic reality with a their customary arrogant zeal.
    3. That the gravity exerted by the moon would affect the interior of the earth seems pretty obvious to me, but then my mind is not closed by “scientific” dogma.
    4. Current Seismic “Science” never gives any clear indication or answers AT ALL. Their theories are farcical in that they are no more than a bunch of vague generalizations at best. But hey, they got a worldwide industry to maintain, don’t they?
    Whenever they are asked for a prognosis or possible future scenario(s), you might as well switch off, as rising mist is the only thing visible.
    5. At least Ken’s approach should be observed and studied with an open mind, which for most people is an impossibility, especially when fear plays such a dominant factor.
    6. Four main quake events since August where alerted by Ken pretty accurately. I don’t know about you guys, but that is a whole lot more substantial than your usual seismic lot, who show a nice set of green teeth every time they are asked for something specific.
    7. I for one would rather have alerts that so far have the weight of some success, so that I can make provisions for a possible event and thus save myself and my family from the worst, especially taking into account where we live.
    8. Ken’s weather predictions are FAR more accurate than NIWA’s predictions which are mere “computer models” at best;
    hence I consult Ken, cause his predictions are far more correct.
    Using NIWA I am better off just looking out the window.
    I for one will keep an open mind to Ken’s work. So far, he has done pretty good, in spite of what your rather childish math models may come up with. Having taken his alerts to mind, has already saved us from considerable damage, and that is real to me and a “real positive”. I don’t want another one around 19-20 March either, but we will be as ready as we can be,
    thanks to Ken’s alerts. And that’s reality for one in the zone where it is all happening till now.
    Ken, keep it up and I for one will heed your alerts, unless someone else can do better, which seems not to be the case so far.

  • What I don’t get is, Ring takes great care to ensure that the forces are all aligning, which is possible to calculate with great accuracy, yet he then allows a rather large uncertainty value. It’s a bit like calculating a number to great accuracy and then multiplying by the sine of an arbitary number. In other words, he has to be able to predict an earthquake to within a few minutes, or he can’t predict anything at all.

  • Hello this is my second day on one of these contraptions so bare with me.Have been following this Ken Ring thing and would like to know if there is any scientific evidence that can prove beyond a shadow of doubt 100% that the Moon,Sun and planets cannot have any effect on the Earths crust in anyway and if so where and how can i find this evidence.Regards Pikey

  • Once March 20th comes and goes… then we will all see for ourselves if his predictions are right or if your nay-sers are right. Time will tell… isn’t that a great way of finding out if this guy is a total moon-atic?!

    Your math is great, and I’m in awe, but hey, I wouldn’t know if it was true. And no, I’m not going back to school!

  • Humans have always wanted to know what will happen next, especially after such events as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. That’s why psychics of all kinds are so popular and have been through all the ages. We can’t see the future and yet so many of us wish we could, for all kinds of reasons, good and bad. We have done well, with our satellites and other technology learning to understand and predict (sometimes) what the weather will do, perhaps in time we will find a way to predict earthquakes and eruptions too.

  • How about the Maori elder who predicted a powerful earthquake for June (without giving a precise year) recently at Waitangi day… A 33 year old dream….
    And bodies in bags in Wellington City and the Beehive down…
    Should we be concerned.
    What does Ken have to say about it.

  • Mygoodness. ken ring at least warns us about possibilitys. why does nobody else inform us a week before hand if there are going to be larger aftershocks? it’s because they don’t know. and then scientists always ‘claim’ to know there was going to be a larger after shock that week, but NEVER tell us. Ken tells us. Just accept that having a degree doesn’t solve anything.

  • Sorry for the delay in this comments appear. Gmail had decided you guys where all spam! (in fact, it was about 30% spam)

    Will try and reply at some stage but Dede,

    Scientists don’t predict earthquakes becuase they are honest about the limits of their knowledge. Inaccurate forecasts are not better than no forecasts and I’d argue they’re a good deal worse.

    and Luckey,

    At least Ken’s approach should be observed and studied with an open mind, which for most people is an impossibility, especially when fear plays such a dominant factor.

    I think is customary to read a post before you comment on it. How is the approach taken above close minded?

  • Natalie,

    The maths is only there to show you that the pattern of reasoning I’m talking about is verifiably true. You don’t need any maths to get the core:

    a) We shouldn’t be too surprised ring “predicted” this quake because his prediction are so vague and he makes them all the time
    b) His methods are so lacking in plausibility that we’d need amazing evidence to believe in them.

    The evidence isn’t all that amazing, so we shouldn’t put too much stock in his future predictions.

  • Someone commented that Mr Ring had successfully predicted 4 quakes since last September. There were .more than 4000 quakes between Sept 4 & the massive February shock, so it would have been surprising if he hadn’t managed at least some ‘hits’.

  • Natalie H,

    Even if we get a quake on March 20th, it won’t prove Ken’s predictions. Of course he would make a lot of capital out of it, but only because most people don’t understand probability and statistics. We could get a massive quake on March 20th and his methods could still be worthless. The analysis of multiple quake events, and other such analyses on-line are far better indications of whether or not KR’s predictions are worth anything, and the evidence suggests that they aren’t.

  • I first encountered Ken Ring’s amazing ability to predict the weather one day when I picked up his weather prediction book in a Papakura bookshop. He was predicting fine weather for that day and I could see the rain falling outside. Ever since that day if there has been a particularly dramatic weather map and I happen to be in the near vicinity of a bookshop with time to spare I have checked out his weather map for the day with the one in the Newspaper. They never match. Everyday Earthquakes occur somewhere round the ring of fire and there are a number of significant (ie measurable)Earthquakes somewhere in New Zealand every month. By painting a large target eg within a few days of the predicted date there should be some built in success. It seems to me that although I already knew that the moon creates a bulge in the Earths crust when it is overhead what is not able to be predicted is how much strain has built up along a shifting fault – and how much strain has already been released by previous techtonic events. For Canterbury, with an extensive flood plain covering the deeper faults, such detail is much harder to map. As animals are also supposed to know when Earthquakes are about to happen, I have asked the cat but she only opened one eye and gave me what could only be described as a distainful look. I will try again just before 20 March but frankly I am not holding out too much hope.

  • I think Mr Ring should keep to predicting less harmful events, like cat paw palmistry and whether Tauranga will have a wetter than average winter. His non-scientific and patently unproven approach can cause tremendous harm. If we were to hide every time he predicted an earthquake, nothing would ever get done.

  • Luckey said…
    1. Ken NEVER predicted an earthquake on a specific date.

    Well, that’s not prediction then, is it? In that case Ken (and his idiot followers/defenders, no doubt Luckey is one), is just bullsh*ting.

    2. His theories are not implausible at all, just different and not in accord with current “scientific myths” which scientists present as dogmatic reality with a their customary arrogant zeal.

    Ken doesn’t have a theory. The advancement of physics theories, since Newton, Kepler, Einstein, to modern day, started with empirical observations. Laws (expressed mathematically) are then deduced. The deduced laws are then applied in a wider domain apart from the (narrow) one that it was first deduced from to see if it generalizes. If it survives then it becomes an established one. Being established doesn’t mean that it represent the true nature of physical reality. Eg, Newtonian mechanics was based on false assumptions/postulations (absolute frame of reference), therefore it is a false theory despite its usefulness in classical mechanics.

    Einstein came along and corrected the false Newtonian mechanics. Now it appeared that there is some shortfall in einstein’s general relativity (GR), so there is work in this area to either extend it (quantum gravity) or replace it (string or similar ones)

    3. That the gravity exerted by the moon would affect the interior of the earth seems pretty obvious to me, but then my mind is not closed by “scientific” dogma.

    That’s correct that it is obvious, but my limited readings on this topic showed that some of the published papers showed no definitive results.

    4. Current Seismic “Science” never gives any clear indication or answers AT ALL. Their theories are farcical in that they are no more than a bunch of vague generalizations at best.

    Yes, that’s what it’s suppose to be. Unpredictable. WHY? Earthquakes exhibit properties of critical phenomena (typical of complex system). Here is a good paper on the topic:

    “Critical Phenomena in Natural Sciences: Chaos, Fractals, Selforganization and Disorder: Concepts and Tools ”

    You can also search on Geophysicist Prof. Didier Sornette on his work on power-law probability distribution of earthquakes as critical phenomena. In short, earthquakes is unpredictable. The only possibility is to give a likelihood of occurrence at a time-window. Note, that this is completely different from what Ken Ring is doing. Ken says that its gonna happen at a specific time at a future date. Scaling/Power-law distribution estimation of earthquakes doesn’t tell a future date and that’s the difference. You still follow?

    [Continue on , next, since my comment is too long]

  • @P Cammock
    “is any scientific evidence that can prove beyond a shadow of doubt 100% that the Moon,Sun and planets cannot have any effect on the Earths crust in anyway and if so where and how can i find this evidence.”
    What your asking is to prove a negative which isn’t how science works. Rather what you need to ask is “is there any evidence that the moon, sun and planets have any effect on the Earths crust. As has been mentioned earlier there is some evidence that the Moon has a small effect which does not correlate with any major ground movement. Not sure about the sun but the other planets would most likely be too far away to have any effect. If you track back through some earlier comments you will probably find references to effects of the moon.

  • Luckey said…
    5. At least Ken’s approach should be observed and studied with an open mind, which for most people is an impossibility, especially when fear plays such a dominant factor.

    As I stated above, that there are peer review studies on this possible connection and the results are not definitive. I can quote you the papers that I have read so far, if you’re interested. Again, Ken doesn’t have a theory, jeez, do you understand what theory formulation is about in the physical science? Ken has none of that.

    His type of thinking (confused as theory) is synonymous to paranormal researchers (even from professors & PhDs) who try to link psychic capability to quantum mechanics. If you look a those (paranormal) papers, quantum mechanics is littered thruout their various articles which is being quoted from the beginning to the end of each one, but no derivation to show how psychic phenomena is linked to the (schrodinger) wave equations. It means that they jumped to conclusion by dreaming it up, with no connection to quantum mechanics at all. Ken is doing the same thing. He quoted the moon in a pure descriptive language only, but no attempt to derive the physical laws (gravitations of moon/sun) to show how they can cause earthquakes. The danger of this is that it will allow any arbitrate claim to be made. Once can look at that rate of car crash in our public roads at a specific time of the year and attempt to link it to the moon caused tidal wave? There is no derivation of gravitation laws and linked it (via causal connections) to car crashes, something like, the tidal wave causes the vehicles on our road a small lift of force L, which makes it lighter than it’s normal weight (W – L), blah, blah, blah. Do you follow or not? So, arbitrary claims such as that made my Ken Ring has to be dismissed straight away, because it is not based on science, but purely on figment of his imagination. That’s not science, is it?

    6. Four main quake events since August where alerted by Ken pretty accurately. I don’t know about you guys, but that is a whole lot more substantial than your usual seismic lot, who show a nice set of green teeth every time they are asked for something specific.

    Nonsense. Ok, there is a financial instruments traded in the markets called “Weather Derivatives” (see Wikipedia for more info). These are financial instruments that can be used by organizations or individuals as part of a risk management strategy to reduce risk associated with adverse or unexpected weather conditions. I’m not aware if there is “Earthquake Derivatives” traded in the market, but I came across the followings:

    “Insurance derivatives for buildings to reduce the damage due to large earthquakes”
    http://www.crcnetbase.com/doi/abs/10.1201/9781439828441.ch94

    Give me Ken Ring and his followers to trade either “weather or earthquake derivatives” with me. I’ll use the scientific methods, you Luckey and Ken Ring followers stick to using Ken’s method. This is where it counts. Put your belief in Ken’s methods into real use by trading in those types of derivative markets I mentioned above if you Ken’s prediction is accurate. Believe me, if you trade in the earthquake derivative markets against me , I will own your house, your car, your TV and everything you have (well including your wife if you can’t pay up). This is the test if scientific method is nonsense in comparison to Ken’s psychic method, according to you Luckey. Do you want to try? Get all your Ken Ring’s followers to have a go? What are you waiting for? Why not make huge amount of money by trading in those (non-financial) derivative markets, huh, if you think that Ken’s method is more accurate? I know you can’t do that , because you definitely know that Ken’s method is nonsense.

    7. I for one would rather have alerts that so far have the weight of some success, so that I can make provisions for a possible event and thus save myself and my family from the worst, especially taking into account where we live.

    Now you’ve just shown in that comment above that you’re naive.

    8. Ken’s weather predictions are FAR more accurate than NIWA’s predictions which are mere “computer models” at best;
    hence I consult Ken, cause his predictions are far more correct.

    Again, stop being stupid. Lets play his prediction in the weather derivative markets and see if you can win against me? Stop being loudmouth from a distance. Let’s trade man. I can guarantee you that I’m gonna own everything you have if your Ken Ring’s prediction methods go head with my scientific prediction ones via trading in the weather/earthquake derivative markets.

    Hehe, I know that won’t do it since it is always easier to say that something is accurate in hindsight (after it has occurred), but not when it hasn’t arrived yet.

    I suggest , you go and do some scientific study Luckey so that you’re familiar with how science evolves.

  • @Michael Edmonds You say that my question is a negative sorry i am a builder of 30 years and do not know the appropriate language to use among such learned people it was a simple question although loaded i know the scientific comunity can not answer this question 100 % or for that matter any queastion 100% they can only answer them with increasing confidence but there is evidence out there to support the theorie that the moon and sun can have some effects on minor eartquakes but not large ones as for predicting them who knows but being a builder i cant help but think if you move or remove enough bricks from the bottom of a wall will it not eventionly fall down and can you say this is not a possibility

  • Rather than trying to disprove rings theories or prove them why does the scientific community research them if indeed the moon and sun and planets do have not only a gravitational and magnetic effect on this world we call home is that not a good thing it appears to me that if we can one gain a better understanding of this energy and understand how they work just maybe we will be able to harness this energy witch correct me if i am wrong comes from an infinite resource as apposed to the earths finite resources and just maybe once we understand that we can use it to project us in to space with out the need for cumbersome fuel reserves and bulky engines,Hey guess what we already do this with our space probes but rather than bouncing them of planets what if we could bounce them of Galaxcies and not only that know how to amplify this energy?

  • PCammock – no, of course we can’t say that this is ‘not a possibility’ (this is what Michael meant by the term ‘proving a negative’). What we can do is assign relative probabilities to events, based on existing evidence. That’s why the scientific community is so exceedingly doubtful to Mr Ring’s claims – because they ignore what we know about geology and astronomy, for example.

    For instance, Mr Ring suggests that not only the moon but also the planets can affect the weather & perhaps earthquakes, here on earth. This is presumably due to the effects of gravity; after all, the planets are much bigger than the moon & so might be expected to have a significant gravitational impact on us. The problem here is that gravity – like light – obeys something called the inverse square rule, which means that an object’s gravitational effect drops off very rapidly as that object gets further away. Double the distance, & you’ll have 1/4 the gravitational pull. Quadruple the distance, & that pull drops to 1/16. & so on. Despite their size & mass, the planets are so very far away from us that you & I probably have more gravitational impact on the earth than Jupiter & Neptune could ever have. Hence scientists’ extreme scepticism about that aspect of Mr Ring’s claims, and the very low probability they assign to the chances that he’s correct.

  • @P Cammock
    That you are a builder makes no difference here. Sciblogs is for anyone with an interest in science. And I know that scientific terms can take a bit of getting used to be feel free to ask if something doesn’t seem to make sense. Just have patience with some of us, as after working in science for many years it is easy to take some concepts for granted, and forget that not everyone is used to scientific terminology.
    Alison has hopefully explained more clearly what I meant by “not proving a negative”. Over the years scientists have looked at various theories about the effect of the moon on the Earth and these studies have concluded that there is no significant connection between major earthquakes and the moons position relative to Earth.
    So it is not really true that scientists haven’t looked at these connections before, but that they have and found no significant connection. Because of this scientists have moved on to look at other theories about what causes earthquakes to take place.
    In science the best way to prove that a theory or hypothesis is correct is by showing that it accurately describes what occurs in nature. Mr Ring’s “predictions” do not accurately describe earthquake events, in part because they are so vague, therefore scientists do not consider his theories to be valid.

  • Forget mister rings theories although they plant some very interesting possibilities i will treat them the same way i treat all opinions and theories i will sit on the fence until such time that there is cold hard facts to support them it has been pointed out to me that science cant prove anything 100% which i understand but it would be a fair assumption that the earth is indeed round and revolves around the sun with her fellow planets and the moon revolves around the earth which has been proven although not 100% but beyond reasonable doubt would you not agree that this is a fair assumption although in Galelaeoes time not so easy .You talk about 1/4 this and Quadruple that but can you honestly say you know this to be the truth i dont think we will ever understand the world we live in until we understand each other maybe an idealistic way to look at things but hey its the human races differences that makes us so vibrant remember the human race only exsists due to the earths geological consent but one thing we can do and costs nothing is be nice to each other

  • Unfortionatly this is not the case for most veiwers john Cambells interveiw implied that there had been no research done in this field and even the scientist implied that allthough there was some evidence to support the theory that the moon and sun can have minimal effects on the earths crust there had been no research done on this for 100 years well i am sorry that is indeed not the case and infact 100 years ago it was just being presented that the earth had tectonic plates due research done on the effects of the Krakatoa eruption but at the time was considered preposterest by the scientific community so go figure better to have an open mind

  • P Cammock,

    I wrote about the implication that no work on this had been done for 100 years a few days ago – somewhere in the many comments that have been made!

    While I understand how those not listening very carefully might think that Berryman (the scientist interviewed) did actually say there was more recent work, it wasn’t made clear as it might have.

    One of the things I find about science communication is that you need to try state things explicitly, as casual readers will need to not pick up things that are only implied. In this case it was implied, rather than stated explicitly. Straight after he said that the ‘classical’ studies are from 100 years ago, he goes on to briefly summarise the more recent work. He doesn’t explicitly say that’s what it is, however.

    On that note, I put on my blog a Radio Wammo interview with a scientist who is the first author of one of the better known (I’m told) papers in that area.

  • Well this is all very interesting to read. I do appreciate both sides of the argument & am weighing it all drawing my own conclusions. I have been following Ken closely after someone sent me an email in January. Previously I dismissed him. I do however believe there is some plausibility in his theory and in the main article above there seems to be some missing data when refuting Kens claim( dare I say ‘prediction’) or shall we say his proclaiming of a ‘Possibility’.

    1. Was he predicting earthquakes pre Sept 4th, if so surely we could easily see his theory debunked as we really haven’t had any significant quakes in Canterbury prior Sept 4th since who knows when.

    2. He has stated that the largest aftershock of each month up till now after Sept 4th coincided with Perigee, when the moon was closest to the earth for that month,….is that true?

    3. He includes other influences in his theory like sun spot activity. Have you done the same, not just the moon?

    4. He actually states that this period will be over after April. Now thats a pretty closed ended statement, that would provide very clear evidence of weather his theory has any weight.

    I think Ken is not a scientist he is a thinking, observant Kiwi, who hasn’t applied the processes of the scientific community to his methods. This is why the argument becomes so emotional. That still doesn’t mean he is irrelevant. He could very well be on a path of understanding like anyone exploring new idea’s or learning, that make predictions(hypothesize), test them and adjust’s their understanding ie he may not have all the ingredients for an ‘accurate prediction cake’. But if we look at his latest prediction/possibility for March 20th significant event, he states the date +/- 2 days, he states the area North Canterbury to Marlborough, and he provides evidence astrologically for the belief.
    Now given that its earthquakes we’re talking about there is currently no predictability scientifically so just being given the month would be fine for anyone in the ‘Danger Zone’ when expecting a large quake. We don’t need to damn him for being a few days out.
    I need to correct an assumption also, us Cantabrians are not spooked by Ken Ring, he hasn’t put the fear of God into us(although I do fear God) but rather we are competent, confident thinking New Zealanders & we have weighed his theory and GNS’s statements & thought to take a little precaution over these dates just in case. No harm in responding as such, so he or his followers do not need to be completely discredited & burned at the stake for offering a theory. The people choose who they will listen to & in the end Truth will be revealed & it will endure.
    I am just an electrician & local business owner living in Christchurch in these un-precidented times,
    Regards
    Nathan

  • This article and the comments are brilliant.

    Thank you very much for articulating the problems behind pseudo-science.

  • @P Cammock

    “it has been pointed out to me that science cant prove anything 100% which i understand”
    True but there are many things for which there is so much science evidence that it would silly to debate them (unless of course good evidence arises to cause us to question them.
    For example, the theory of gravity is well established, with mountains of evidence for it. However, if things everything started falling up instead of down then we might have to question the current theory of gravity.
    Likewise there is abundant evidence for evolution, although some scientists still debate small parts of evolutionary theory.

    “but it would be a fair assumption that the earth is indeed round and revolves around the sun with her fellow planets and the moon revolves around the earth which has been proven although not 100% but beyond reasonable doubt”
    I would agree that these movements of sun and planets (though “companion planets” might be a better way to describe them as the sun is not a planet) has been proven beyond reasonable doubt given all of the evidence accumulated by astronomers.

    “would you not agree that this is a fair assumption although in Galelaeoes time not so easy .You talk about 1/4 this and Quadruple that but can you honestly say you know this to be the truth”
    Alison’s explanation of how gravity works depending on the mass the planets and the distances between them is well established with lots and lots of evidence to support it. It is so well understood that this knowledge is used to help plan the paths of spacecraft when they travel to the moon and beyond.
    So unless evidence turns up to disprove the current “inverse square” law of gravity then it would seem silly not to accept that it is true.
    I hope that helps.

  • I would add to Michael’s post by saying that the inverse square law can be derived by just thinking about it. The area of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2, and so observations of a force or energy emanating from a point source should be expected to diminish in proportion to the square of r, the distance of the observer from the source. This is because the same amount of energy per unit time is spread out over an ever larger surface area as r increases, and the surface area increases linearly with r^2. Predictions of this theory agree very consistently with actual observations within the usual dimensions we inhabit, and so the theory is a strong one that we confidently use for predictions. Ken’s “theory”, by contrast, is vaguely stated and his predictions do not agree at all well with observations. The fact that he propagated his predictions and scared the bejesus out of people in an already stressed out city is therefore monstrous, and he deserves strong criticism. Strong criticism of his actions is hard to achieve on television because there isn’t time, visuals matter as much as the audible content, and people struggle to absorb complexity in that medium. TV3 should therefore have ignored him.

  • P Cammock.

    I’m not sure this is a helpful conversation, but here goes.

    “Keeping an open mind” doesn’t mean waiting for incontrovertible truth of some claim, because such proof can’t exist. If I claim dinosaurs still walk the earth no amount of non-dinosaur sitings can disprove that claim, but I think if you open your mind to claims like that you risk having your brains fall out.

    What we need to do is look at the evidence in its totality, that’s what I tried to do above, and I think Ring’s “hits” are not very surprising and his methods lacking in plausibility. So I don’t think we should take him too seriously.

  • Dear Falafulu Fisi;
    Quote:
    1. “Hehe, I know that won’t do it since it is always easier to say that something is accurate in hindsight (after it has occurred), but not when it hasn’t arrived yet.”

    Well, that’s exactly what the Seismic lot do! One of them was taking credit after the event for expecting something big. So, why did he not verbalize that in advance if he was fairly sure?
    Give credit where it is due: At least Ken gives his opinions in advance. And he has always said that they are not predictions, just opinions. Ken has only posted “alerts”. He has NEVER predicted any earthquakes. He explicitly states that.
    In fact, He appears to be calm, rational and blessed with an admirable amount of self control and quiet dignity. Just look at the Campbell interview. Certainly not like the pride that you so clearly are full to the back-teeth with. And what is the self-righteous, condescending arrogance of your post, based on? Scientific “knowledge”? May I remind you that most “scientific knowledge” is conceptual only and is therefore continually subject to revision and change. Just like life in general. Lots of present day scientist have turned their “science” into the latest form of religion, just witness the global warming hysteria; it displays all the negative traits of religion: mass dogmatic indoctrination and intolerant absolutism that will not admit of any alternative possibilities.

    2. “I suggest , you go and do some scientific study Luckey so that you’re familiar with how science evolves.”

    Thank you Falafulu; I will consider it. However, so far with the studies I have done, combined with many and varied life experiences, I can only conclude that science has NOT evolved, but devolved. Science has become another holy grail, its importance, capabilities and contribution to society are overestimated, resulting in it being the new “religion”. The amount of conceptual “knowledge” might have increased massively, but the pure scientific ethos is getting more and more diluted and polluted, as the arrogance, pride and self-righteousness of present day “scientists” has increased manifold. This mindset makes it impossible to remain open, objective and self critical, which at least to me, are essential attributes of a real Scientist.
    In fact, in former times, Science was challenged and even threatened by religion and other dogmatic mental programming,
    which resulted in science remaining fresh, adventurous and self-critical. A lot of present day “scientists” assume an almost clerical attitude of self importance and “what can they possibly know; they are not scientists after all” type of demeanor.
    Is that evolved?
    The manner and tone of your post is a point in case.

    All the intellectual “scientific” knowledge in the world has not added an ounce of inner refinement, humanity or love to society. Just witness present day society: We have jumbo jets, atom bombs and god knows what, but have we stopped killing and hating each other? Instead of using arrows, we use bombs or gas or other scientifically “evolved” weaponry, but all the selfish and narrow attributes and negative traits have remained the same. Since love and happiness are the most fundamental needs in life, methinks that perhaps other endeavors, apart from science, might be as essential, if not more so.
    Science needs to look at its own modus operandi,
    the culture in which it takes place and the mindset that affects it’s findings and conclusions, in order to shed it’s aura of self-importance, increasing intolerance and dogmatism and thus reclaim its objectivity and independence.

    Regards,
    Luckey.

  • Here’s my attempt to clarify for people thinking that because Ken Ring ‘alerted’ us to an earthquake, and an earthquake happened around that time, that he has discovered some amazing method of knowing when an earthquake will occur.

    Consider this, if 365 people each chose a different day of the year, and stated ‘I think an earthquake will happen on day X’, then given that all over the world earthquakes (of varying sizes) are happening daily, and more to the point that in Canterbury we are now amidst a series of aftershocks triggered by an earthquake event such that we are getting multiple earthquakes each day, or every few days at least, there is a 100% probablity that one of those 365 people will correctly pick the day an earthquake occurs. BUT – the fact that person did correctly state the day an earthquake would occur does not mean that person has a special ability to do this – lady luck means that one of the people had to get it right.

    Now, flip this on its head – if just one person makes enough predictions, then eventually some of those will be correct, just simply by luck – whether or not they have some amazing methodology.

    So, the question is how do we determine whether the prediction (alert) just happend by luck, or if the person does have some special ability? That’s when we look at all the evidence available, not just the one instance they got it right. So we look at how many predictions they made, when, for where… and how many times out of all of the predictions were they correct, and how many times were they not correct.

    From reading this post, it seems that people are forgetting to consider the many times Mr Rings ‘alerts’ have not coincided with an earthquake. So, on the available evidence all we can conclude at the moment is that Mr Rings alert to the latest earthquake (which notaby was not very specific thus increasing his chance of being right just by luck) was nothing more than luck.

    As David originally noted – we cannot just look at his successful ‘alert’ and conclude he has the key to knowing when (even roughly) a quake, will hit – we need to put context around the correct prediction ie. how many times he got it wrong as well.

    Great Post David.

  • Lukey, I’ll split my respond into different posts as they’re too long to be in one message.

    Luckey said…
    Certainly not like the pride that you so clearly are full to the back-teeth with. And what is the self-righteous, condescending arrogance of your post, based on?

    Sorry Luckey, I stated the facts and you turned around and said that I’m self-righteous, condescending arrogant? What’s your problem here? The reason you said what you’ve stated above is that because you know that I’m correct but not willing to concede. In other words, you’re trying to obfuscate. Did you fully understand the points I made? Arbitrariness in science has to be dismissed, not ifs no buts. What Ken Ring is currently promoting is an arbitrary theory, full stop. May I recommend to you to read the following on metaphysics?

    “Metaphysics – Importance of philosophy”
    http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_Main.html

    Read the link above, then try & understand where I’m coming from. It is easy reading and that’s guarantee (there is no complex differential calculus models/equations in that link so that makes it hard for anyone to grasp the arguments presented in there).

  • Luckey said…
    Scientific “knowledge”? May I remind you that most “scientific knowledge” is conceptual only and is therefore continually subject to revision and change.

    Redundant argument. We already know that, since every dog, cockroach, snail on the planet fully understoon what you have stated. Jeez, can you come up with something original?

    Luckey said…
    Just like life in general. Lots of present day scientist have turned their “science” into the latest form of religion, just witness the global warming hysteria; it displays all the negative traits of religion: mass dogmatic indoctrination and intolerant absolutism that will not admit of any alternative possibilities.

    May I remind you (if you don’t know yet) that I’m a man-made global warming skeptic! My skeptism is based on my experience in doing numerical computing (scientific compution). I know most of the numerical models used/developed by climate modelers, they are largely based on differential equations modeling which are mostly solved using LAPack (linear algebra package) & BLAS (Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms). So, my disagreement with climate modeling is from first hand knowledge of numerical modeling, because sometimes the models (ones which I have involved in their development) give solutions that implicate something unphysical?

    An example I have experienced was modeling phonon (acoustic) waves in semiconductors (ie, from solid state physics). The solution indicated, that once a phonon particle is excited at an impurity site, it then propagates in all direction (3D) of the lattice thus creating more phonons as the wave spreads out (similar to population inversion in Laser – excite one photon, then more photons will get excited to higher state). It was clear that the initial energy that use to excite the first phonon, was multiplying exponentially as the wave propagated throut the lattice as more phonons were created in the process. In short, there was energey created/materialized from nothing. This prediction was never observed in the lab, even though our whole team were aware on the unphysicality of our model.

    We seeked collaboration with a team of researchers from Innsbruk University , Austria and we shared our work with them. They finally pinpointed the error in the development in our model. We modified our model as we derived it fresh from the beginning. The experimental results matched exactly what our model predicted that we were going to observe. That’s the story about my skeptism about climate modeling. Note that climate modeling is not totaly bullsh*t as some skeptics seemed to believe and I’m not one of those skeptics who dismissed it out of hand. Computer numerical Modeling is a proper scientific method, be it climate, solid state physics, nuclear physics, engineering electromagnetic, computational fluid dynamics, etc, etc, their use should be widely adopted & endorsed.

    Using computer modeling is not religion as you seemed to think. One just has to be aware that sometimes numerical solutions from the models can’t be always be interpreted in a physical sense. Either there was error in the formulation of the model or otherwise, the formulation is correct, but mathematical artifacts (implicating an unphysical phenomena) just happened to come out as result.

    There are some arguments in the physics community that the implication of time-travel from General Relativity (GR) has no real physical meaning (ie, it is impossible), but the mathematical solutions to GR says that such thing exists and opponents say that this is just a (coincidental) mathematical artifacts and has got nothing to do with existence & physical reality.

  • Luckey,

    I like your post, because, although we apparently disagree about Ken Ring’s predictions and climate change, your thoughts are interesting and thought provoking.

    Science may be amoral, as you say, and clearly technology allows us to express our dark side more destructively. I think that on balance science enhances humanity, however, not just because it allows us to contemplate and communicate this way, but also because in my opinion applied science has led to the rise of middle classes, and we middle classes generally have the time and influence to try to promote more democratic, equitable societies.

    Since the enlightenment we have seen a burgeoning of democratic states. This change appears to have arisen in tandem with changes in perceptions of place, cosmology, cause and effect, and personal security that science has helped to bring about. We are not perfect, and our prejudices still wax and wane, but I believe we have made sound progress in the last 500 years. We are more free, more wealthy, healthier and happier on average than our ancestors of medieval times. Our societies are less barbaric in their treatment of illnesses and social problems, and this gives me grounds for hope that we can continue to make a better world, and that science is part of the solution. I accept that I participate in a society that has to continue to change, to become more equitable globally, to offer better opportunities to people, and to live within the capacity of our planet.

    I hear your point about scientists being arrogant, a new priestly caste, and maybe sometimes we are too arrogant. All I can say in response is that as a scientist/academic, my integrity is my most valuable asset, and like all other scientists I know, I guard it as well as I can by taking care with my statements and by listening to other points of view with as much charity as I can muster.

    When my daughter was reduced to near tears by Ken Ring’s March prediction I checked his website and became angry, because it seemed to me that he had not taken adequate care with his statements, and he was now not just misleading people and taking their money, but also causing victims of the earthquake extra stress. This has motivated my investigations of his claims, and I find his methods wanting.

    Kind regards,
    Euan

  • Thanks Euan,
    Your response solicits respect for you in me, for which I thank you.
    It is reasonable and clearly posted with acceptance that we are all differently programmed and with affection for others as well.
    You are proof that most scientists are human too.
    Like you, I also have some mixed feelings towards Ken’s opinions. But after Campbell’s horrific treatment of Ken, I felt compelled to rush to his defence, even just for the fact, that if we believe in freedom of expression, than surely He is entitled to His. We can’t be biased and selective in this according to our personal feelings. Also, we should not allow fear to influence our objectivity as far as possible. If something is possible to happen on and around the 19th or 20th, we might as well be somewhat prepared.
    I am flat out, just wanted to say this. Thanks for your response.
    Will respond more later.
    Cheers.
    Luckey.

  • Luckey said…
    I can only conclude that science has NOT evolved, but devolved.

    Well, your conclusion is wrong by many miles off target. The very fact that you’re posting your message here using a computer invented by science shows that you’re not only wrong, but idiotic in what you said. (Note, most or all electronic gadgets on the planet contain a semiconductor device and their design was done using laws of science – ie, quantum mechanics). That’s why I recommended the link for metaphysics & importance of philosophy for you to read from the link above in my previous message. Let me quote you a line or two from that link.

    To deny existence is to say that something doesn’t exist. A denial of something is only possible if existence exists.

    The quote applies to what you’ve just said. You deny that science is not evolving, but at the same time you posted your message here using a computer that science invented, which is not a devolution process as you seemed to believe. Can you see your contradiction? If you can’t then you must be living in a world where everything is illusion.

    Luckey said…
    Science has become another holy grail, its importance, capabilities and contribution to society are overestimated, resulting in it being the new “religion”.

    Again, you’re clearly deluded in your thinking and talking nonsense. The contribution of science to society is not over-estimated, but under-reported or under-estimated.

    Luckey said…
    The amount of conceptual “knowledge” might have increased massively, but the pure scientific ethos is getting more and more diluted and polluted, as the arrogance, pride and self-righteousness of present day “scientists” has increased manifold.

    Irrelevant, nonsense and not worth a reply. If you get sick, do you want to be treated in a hospital in some 3rd world underdeveloped country such as Tonga or one in a developed country? In developed countries, modern medicine is very sophisticated because of huge contribution from science compared to 3rd world countries which herbal medicines are still largely the dominant form of treatments/cures. Seriously, do you want to be treated at Auckland Hospital with its sophisticated (science-invented) equipments or Nuku’alofa Hospital in Tonga with herbal medicines? I know which hospital you want to be treated at and it’s not Nuku’alofa hospital. Again, the quote from the metaphysics page (I linked to) applies here. You deny that science hugely contributed to advancement of modern society, but at the same time, you wouldn’t want to be treated at Nuku’alofa hospital (which medical science hasn’t been advanced fast enough there) if you get sick.

    Luckey said…
    This mindset makes it impossible to remain open, objective and self critical, which at least to me, are essential attributes of a real Scientist.

    You’re weaselling & obfuscating. You talk nonsense and seem to think that pseudo-science is somehow be lumped together with science. Ok, name one real scientific discovery that started out as pseudo-science? I bet that you won’t find one. Do you want to make a bet here? What Ken Ring is doing is pseudo-science and not science. You must read, the article on Cargo-Cult Science by Physics Nobel laureate late Richard Feynman from his lecture at Caltech in the 1970s, which David Winter already quoted it in his article.

    Luckey said…
    In fact, in former times, Science was challenged and even threatened by religion and other dogmatic mental programming, which resulted in science remaining fresh, adventurous and self-critical.

    Wrong! Religion didn’t challenge science. Religion tried to persecute scientists for proposing theories that are in contradiction to their belief. Good example was Galileo. Religion didn’t challenge Galileo by offering a counter-argument to his theory or propose an alternative theory to Galileo. They (church) offered none. Can you see the difference here or not?

    Luckey said…
    A lot of present day “scientists” assume an almost clerical attitude of self importance and “what can they possibly know; they are not scientists after all” type of demeanor.

    Sorry, but that’s how human society operates. When someone is sick, you take that person to a doctor and not a homeopathy expert. When a bridge is to be built, you seek advice from an engineer and not from a Rasputin-type village oracle. When a high-rise building is to be constructed at an area where frequency of earthquakes is high, you seek advice from geologists, physicists, structural engineer, etc,… and not from and idiot like Ken Ring. I bet that you wouldn’t mind basing your life decision-making process from advice you received from village oracles & idiots like Ken Ring.

    Luckey said…
    All the intellectual “scientific” knowledge in the world has not added an ounce of inner refinement, humanity or love to society.

    Nonsense and meaningless.

    Luckey said…
    Just witness present day society: We have jumbo jets, atom bombs and god knows what, but have we stopped killing and hating each other? Instead of using arrows, we use bombs or gas or other scientifically “evolved” weaponry, but all the selfish and narrow attributes and negative traits have remained the same. Since love and happiness are the most fundamental needs in life, methinks that perhaps other endeavors, apart from science, might be as essential, if not more so.

    That’s got nothing to do with science. Irrelevant argument there. The way we love or hate each other has got nothing to do with the development of science.

    Luckey said…
    Science needs to look at its own modus operandi,
    the culture in which it takes place and the mindset that affects it’s findings and conclusions, in order to shed it’s aura of self-importance, increasing intolerance and dogmatism and thus reclaim its objectivity and independence.

    Irrelevant rambling here. You use a computer, cell-phone, etc, etc, in your everyday life and you think that those are not important? Give me a break. Do you want to live in a cave, where science is faraway from your environment? Go ahead sir. I bet that you will live comfortably there if you decided to do so.

  • I want to add the following link, which I think is important.

    “Unified scaling law for earthquakes”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/suppl.1/2509.full

    I’m not a geophysicist, so if any geologist or geophysicist on this thread can elaborate a bit more if indeed the scaling law is the method adopted for estimating earthquakes’ magnitudes/frequencies? I’m well familiar with scaling/power-law distribution, but I’m not sure if this is the method used by geologists/geophysicists to estimate earthquakes’ frequency/magnitude? If it is, then I believe Ken Ring has no clue to what scaling/power-law is? This clearly shows that his theory is not a theory. It is still unbelievable that there seems to be people think that Mr Ring has a theory. Ken Ring doesn’t have a theory , period.

    I first came across the application of scaling/power-law to earthquakes by Geophysicist, Prof. Didier Sornette.

    “Self-Organized Criticality and Earthquakes”
    http://iopscience.iop.org/0295-5075/9/3/002

  • Luckey 01, you said
    “the arrogance, pride and self-righteousness of present day “scientists” has increased manifold.”

    Can I ask you how which scientists you are using to make this judgement? Surely you are not saying that all scientists are like this? Which on’s in particular do you find so self righteous? as a scientist I find this type of generalisation quite frustrating – for every “self righteous” scientist you have experienced there are probably dozens of other scientists who are not self righteous.

    Also, if you are using posters here as examples please remember than not all contributors here are scientists.

    Also, many contributors here have agreed with you that the John Campbell interview was a fiasco and Mr Campbell was rude. However, John Campbell is not a scientist and he does not represent science.

    “just witness the global warming hysteria; it displays all the negative traits of religion: mass dogmatic indoctrination and intolerant absolutism that will not admit of any alternative possibilities.”
    Again, a lot of the advocacy for AGW (anthropomorphic global warming) is more political than scientific however, as far as I can see the science does support AGW. And it is not communicated in absolutism, rather scientific discussions around AGW describe it in terms of risks and probabilities. Given that your post implies that your reject AGW perhaps you could explain what facts you base your views on?

    “Just witness present day society: We have jumbo jets, atom bombs and god knows what, but have we stopped killing and hating each other?”
    I think you are unnecessarily focusing on the dark side of human nature. Science has also provided us with many tools for good, but they are just that – tools. However, science in some areas of sociology and psychology is helping us to better understand how important things such as empathy and altruism in producing a healthy society. As an example of the positive uses of science look at how tools such as facebook and twitter where used by the people of New Zealand to support those in Christchurch. Look at the technology used to help evacuate people, to tend to their injuries, to provide clean water and sanitation. But you are certainly right, science by itself is not the be all and end all of our civilisation.

  • I couldn’t agree more Carol.

    Thanks to everyone that’s contributed to this thread, I don’t have time to contribute at the moment and I can’t help but feel the longer this stays open the more likely it is to descend into pure tribalism and mudslinging. With that in mind, I’ll probably close it around lunch time tomorrow – if anyone has final questions, comments or parting shots to get in before that you should get those in now.

  • You are right Mr. Fisi, I would be comfortable in most environments
    where you would perhaps struggle. I spend a lot of time hiking in the wonderful mountains, rain-forests and on the beaches of New Zealand; and stay in caves too! No cell-phone and no computers to my delight. Just stillness, fab sunrises, sunsets, patterns in the sky and the wind caressing our bodies.
    I am sorry that you take what I have written so personally. However, I cannot escape the impression that some of the points I have endeavored to illustrate re science and scientists, perhaps poorly so, do apply to yourself to some degree.
    Without realizing it, you have actually proven some of those points quite clearly. So Science is just robotic and without human emotions?
    The way we love or hate each other definitely has an impact on Science and vice versa. The manner in which Scientific conclusions, results and achievements are used is the point I am trying to make.
    It is science which has furnished us with the means to kill each other more efficiently. Pharmaceutical/Medical science operates mainly on the profit motive and actual well being of mankind is not part of the equation. They treat the symptoms but hardly ever the cause. And no matter how clever that science may be, it is not available to the major body of mankind.
    It is exclusive and designed and marketed to be so.
    The simple fact that “caring” for others has become a business
    with all its associated models of turnover and profit goals, despite human needs, is immoral to my way of thinking and feeling.

    Dear Mr Fisi, best to agree to disagree. Since my posts seem to arouse such negative emotions in you, perhaps best for you to ignore them. We’re from different planets.
    All the same, all the best to you dear Mr Fisi.
    Regards.
    Luckey.

  • Luckey 01

    “Pharmaceutical/Medical science operates mainly on the profit motive and actual well being of mankind is not part of the equation. They treat the symptoms but hardly ever the cause.”

    What a bleak and cynical view you have of medical science. I have worked with medical scientists and they are some of the most dedicated and caring people. I would suggest that the issues around medical science that you are concerned with, particularly the lack of availability to those in poor countries is more about politics than science.

    Still apart from your apparent dissatisfaction about some applications of science, my impression is that you are a very socially minded individual. Hopefully you will find in the future that some of the concerns you have about modern society are shared by scientists who see science as having a part to play in the advancement of a better society.

  • Hi Michael Edmonds,
    Thanks for your reaction. I have worked in health-care, an indeed my view of medical science has not been enhanced by the experience. You are right in that some of the medical scientists are indeed, I am sure, some of the most caring people. My statement was not aimed at them, nor at you personally for that matter. So, sorry, perhaps I should have formulated that better. However, the pharmaceutical industry and it’s scientists seem to be more concerned with quickly “patenting” a new medicine or re-combined genetically engineered antidote, and thus monopolizing it for sometime, rather than the plight and suffering of mankind. Today, science is too much controlled and “steered” by huge multinationals rather than by independent Science departments or institutes.
    Finally, I DO believe western medicine, especially diagnostic tools and surgery, help the poor a lot. Take for instance The Fred Hollows Foundation, who do absolutely wonderful work for the sight impaired. I gladly support them and I would recommend them to anyone.
    But the Pharmaceutical Industry…… Yes, my opinion about them is bleak and cynical, I am sad to admit.
    You said: “Hopefully you will find in the future that some of the concerns you have about modern society are shared by scientists who see science as having a part to play in the advancement of a better society.”
    Michael, that is exactly what I hope will be the case. And I am glad you feel that way too. (He says somewhat chastened!)
    I hope more and more scientists will feel that way as well.
    But being an older chap, my experiences in health-care since the mid eighties particularly, have encountered too much of the opposite. Hence my attitude. Thanks for your positive words.
    Regards,
    Luckey.

  • Hi Euan,
    You said:
    “Since the enlightenment we have seen a burgeoning of democratic states. This change appears to have arisen in tandem with changes in perceptions of place, cosmology, cause and effect, and personal security that science has helped to bring about. We are not perfect, and our prejudices still wax and wane, but I believe we have made sound progress in the last 500 years. We are more free, more wealthy, healthier and happier on average than our ancestors of medieval times. Our societies are less barbaric in their treatment of illnesses and social problems, and this gives me grounds for hope that we can continue to make a better world, and that science is part of the solution. I accept that I participate in a society that has to continue to change, to become more equitable globally, to offer better opportunities to people, and to live within the capacity of our planet.”

    There is a lot in this I agree with. I would have loved to go into this in detail, but I can’t on account of leaving tomorrow for the Coast on a camping and hiking trip. We are still packing.
    No, we are NOT running from possible quakes, just enjoying the best of our gorgeous New Zealand.
    One thing Euan: You say we have more freedom then before.
    But what is freedom but a state of mind unencumbered by programming and addictions of any kind. Have we made progress in this direction? Perhaps, as a society we have neglected this. Perhaps some amongst our ancestors, as life was more conducive to simplicity, enjoyed more contentment and inner peace in spite of much harder physical circumstances.
    Thanks for your response.

  • Luckey 01

    “(He says somewhat chastened!)”

    Oh please don’t feel chastened, I think what you have said has been very interesting. After quite a frenetic and sometimes heated exchange of points of view at the beginning of this thread, I am finding more recent comments, including your own, to be most illuminating. Your perspective may differ somewhat from my own but I also see many similarities in our points of view. Your considered tone has also helped to maintain this discussion at a more civil level which is the sort of discussion I enjoy.
    I would not deny that there are things about medicine and science that, at the corporate level, worry me as well. And perhaps part of the solution is scientists becoming more involved in how science is used once it get’s beyond the laboratory door. And there are many scientists who are concerned over some of the influences and potential conflicts of interest with some of the funding of research.
    I have gained great value from your comments.

    Euan,
    “Since the enlightenment we have seen a burgeoning of democratic states. This change appears to have arisen in tandem with changes in perceptions of place, cosmology, cause and effect, and personal security that science has helped to bring about. We are not perfect, and our prejudices still wax and wane, but I believe we have made sound progress in the last 500 years. We are more free, more wealthy, healthier and happier on average than our ancestors of medieval times. Our societies are less barbaric in their treatment of illnesses and social problems, and this gives me grounds for hope that we can continue to make a better world, and that science is part of the solution. I accept that I participate in a society that has to continue to change, to become more equitable globally, to offer better opportunities to people, and to live within the capacity of our planet.”
    Well said, well said. I hope you will stay around at sciblogs, I like your thinking.

  • Hi David,
    Thanks for affording us the opportunity to vent our spleen and
    opinions on this thread and your Sciblog. I have enjoyed it and learned something too. I hope eveyone else did as well.
    Kind Regards.
    Luckey.

  • Alright, thanks again for all your comments, I’m going to close this thread once I post this (if you had something you just needed to say, you can contact me through the form here and I’ll put it up).

    Luckey,

    I think the thing that’s most likely to cure your misgivings about science and scientists is talking to a few. I don’t know any who that go around declaring this or that thing to be true but fiat, or take on a ‘clerical’ position. Often, if you get your science in 30sec soundbites, you’ll hear someone denounce a particular crank or theory, but there’s almost always a great deal of data behind that.

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