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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ken Ring, psychic cat paws and earthquakes


Christchurch earthquake: Sceptics take aim at Ken Ring
Nick Smith is the Minister responsible for ACC - but some might say he's just asking to come a cropper. Smith and the Skeptics Society are planning a lunch in one of Christchurch's highest, oldest, stone buildings - on the day that "moon man" Ken Ring says the city will be hit by another devastating earthquake. Ring's prediction of another earthquake on March 20 - a week today - has caused alarm among some Cantabrians, who have said they will flee the city.


There are few times I will ever pay kudos to Nick Smith, but I have to whole heartedly congratulate him for publicly calling Ken ring on his shonky moon quake nonsense, personally I think John Campbell was way too easy on Ken Ring and his predictions and it now turns out that Ken believes he can under stand psychic influences from the paws of a cat???

Moon Man Ring softens quake predictions
So-called Moon Man Ken Ring is backing away from his prediction that Christchurch will be whacked by a huge earthquake today. His back-pedalling comes as the Herald on Sunday reveals his background as a magician and fortune-teller - with expertise understanding a cat's "psychic" influences by studying its paws.

Did Ken Ring make his prediction of an earthquake based on the psychic aura of his cat? The quickest way to disprove Ken Ring (who sights 'magician' as a past job) is to line up when the moon was closest to earth and line up when earthquakes happen,



(Explanation of graph from Science blog for Tim Selwyn's benefit: 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.

and as you can see, there is NOTHING to suggest the pull of the moon predicts earthquakes. NZ Sciblog does a great job of explaining why Ken is off the planet with his moon quake claims.

Look, I'm sure Ken is a lovely bloke and I'm sure your veggies grow great and the fish bite harder when he says the moon makes it so, but when quackery is allowed to trump science on important real life events, we have a deep problem in our education system.

The poor people of Christchurch deserved more from their mainstream media to discredit Ken than it gave them.

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9 Comments:

At 20/3/11 4:51 pm, Blogger Rimu said...

There are a million nutters on the internet saying all sorts of stupid things all the time. The media has a duty to ignore such things and focus on what is important.

The media could have covered any of the heartwarming stories of community spirit being shown by hundreds (thousands?) of people, instead they chose to take the internet rantings of a weirdo and make a national news story out of it. Because FEAR SELLS.

 
At 20/3/11 5:18 pm, Blogger dcrown said...

I am surprised no one has pointed out Ken Ring's ludicrous beliefs earlier on.
Sillybeliefs.com has been examining his claims for sometime, and to his credit Ken has tried to defend his claims. However his defense just shows how steeped in conspiracy theories he is.
Check out http://www.sillybeliefs.com/ring.html#strange.
Personally I would like to see Ken in the media more often, mercilessly ridiculed that is.

By the way Leighton Smith has been providing a platform for Ken Ring supporters recently as well as quoting Michael Behe. That would also put Leighton high on my list for public ridicule. I can't believe someone supposedly as political astute as John Key even goes anywhere near his show, he is total discredited by association in my opinion. I guess he can't resist the unquestioning fawning that Leighton provides.

 
At 20/3/11 8:49 pm, Blogger fatty said...

Ken Ring's predictions remind me of these predictions, from this group of scaremongers;

http://www.geonet.org.nz/canterbury-quakes/aftershocks/

A scientist is as good as a moon man...they are both useless, why would one give me fear and the other wouldn't?

I hope a brick wall falls on Nick Smith...he's come up with some fucked up theories of his own, what about the rape and victim-support theory he believes in?
How about the evironmental theories he supports?
How about his idea that motorcyclists are to blame for getting wiped out by cars on round-abouts.
Nick Smith is a burden on this country.

 
At 20/3/11 9:09 pm, Blogger Call me REITMAN said...

The Moon has a gravitational effect on tectonic plates in the same way as it does on the Earth's oceans (which lead to tidal effects). It's just very small, of the order of 1% so is not going to majorly affect earthquake patterns and intensities. It's a lot harder to pull solid rock than water.

 
At 20/3/11 11:13 pm, Blogger sprog said...

Does a 5.1 make Ring right?

 
At 21/3/11 11:27 am, Blogger Gosman said...

In short sprog - No it doesn't.

I wholeheartedly support Mr Bradbury's position on this subject. It was well stated and pointed out the absurdities in his various beliefs.

Apparently Ken Ring has stated that he wasn't entirely serious about the Cat stuff. Perhaps in a few more years he will come clean on this other stuff.

 
At 21/3/11 12:22 pm, Blogger Dr Syn said...

sprog, nothing in the world can make Ken Ring right.

 
At 21/3/11 1:28 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Ring should be happy with a 5 and not an 8 - everyone wins: Chch isn't damaged and he gets to be right.

Why do you keep using the graph that shows there is a correlation between moon distance and intensity of earthquakes? It proves Ring's point, not disproves. The graph trend line clearly has a direction - it is not neutral or indistinct. Even if the effect is small, it is still an observable effect according to the graph you use. It is when the moon AND the sun are in alignment that the small effect of the moon will become more pronounced. Whether Ring can extrapolate moon and sun data to get a clear prediction was moot... before yesterday. Now he has that shred of credibility. Martyn, nil. Psychic cat moon man, one. Yeah - I went there.

 
At 21/3/11 1:37 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

If the moon was the factor, the earthquakes would occur most when the moon was closest to the earth, they don't. From the science blog...

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.

 

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