Hot on the heels of the Ken Ring fiasco, Australian psychic Deb Webber has claimed that she predicted the Christchurch earthquake in an interview with the Herald on Sunday. This claim has already been condemned as “scaremongering” by Christchurch mayor Bob Parker and other community leaders, as well as “unhelpful” by fellow psychic, Ken Cruickshank.
Given that this claim has the capacity to induce the same anger and name calling as occurred last week during the Ken Ring debate, there may be those who prefer to put this to one side and ignore it. However, I believe a better approach might be to rationally analyse the alleged prediction and propose an alternative explanation. After all, those who challenge science often ask why scientists will not accept their alternative theories. So, is it not fair that those who believe in Ms Webber’s abilities do not also consider an alternative explanation?
The decribed prediction occurred during a reading with Melbourne woman, Carolyn Ronsberg, on February 19th when Ms Webber is reported to have stated:
“I’m so worried about New Zealand. There’ll be a massive earthquake coming soon and it’ll split the country in two.”
The two women then appear to have calmly gone on with their their lives. As Ms Ronsberg has stated “she didn’t know anyone in New Zealand and found the comments irrelevant.” Ms Webber also appears to have stated that she had known about the earthquake for the year but was surprised at her accuracy.
Let me suggest an alternative hypothesis.
Ms Webber, I would suggest, makes many predictions in her career as a psychic. Some of these may include predictions of disasters around the world. Suggesting that New Zealand may have a massive earthquake, is not a bad option, particularly as no timeline was listed and given that New Zealand is prone to quakes of varying intensity. In fact, given that geologists suggested that after the September 4 quake last year there was a good possibility of a second quake of 1 magnitude less, Ms Webber’s alleged prediction is hardly surprising. What seems more surprising is her failure to warn anyone prior to the earthquake.
Although the suggestion that the quake would “split the country in two” suggests Wellington might be where the quake would occur (an geological hotspot for quakes) this phrase could be adapted to mean the Christchurch quake. Although if one considers the societal impact it could be argued that the February 22 quake has brought New Zealanders closer together.
It would be interesting to see Ms Ronsberg’s notes and the notes of other clients of Ms Webber to see how many predictions she makes about natural disasters and how many “hits” she has had with her predictions and how many “misses” she has. It would also be interesting to look at the level of detail provided with her predictions.
Ms Webber claims that she has known about the earthquake for a year but did not post it on her website for fear of provoking hysteria. Given this level of consideration it seems strange to me that she chooses to reveal her prediction now, when many residents of Christchurch are still hurting, and then says she isn’t completely sure if “further devastation” isn’t on it’s way.
Ms Webber has also stated for the future that “I said to my friends in Christchurch, ‘if I really get anything and I’m really sure I’ll let you know – but when I say get out you’ve got to get out, okay’?”
One has to ask why they didn’t receive a warning about the February 22 quake?
So there you have my alternative explanation, without insults or rancor. Comments?