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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nick Smith: Ken Ring offensive; should be held to account

Nick Smith: Ken Ring offensive; should be held to account


ACC Minister Nick Smith has said that earthquake soothsayer Ken Ring was “reckless and “irresponsible” and that he ought to be held to account for his predictions of a further earthquake in Christchurch.

Lunch date with destiny
The minister and the Skeptics Society are planning to have lunch in the Sign of the Kiwi, one of the tallest and oldest buildings in Christchurch, at noon this Sunday, the day Ken Ring predicted another earthquake would hit the city.

The minister, who has a background in earthquake engineering and a PhD in geotechnical engineering, told NBR he had been taken aback by the number of people taking Mr Ring seriously.

Scaring the kids
He said he was worried that people had become so fraught that any level of credence given to Mr Ring’s predictions would cause anxiety. He was particularly worried about small children and said he had young nephews and nieces who had asked their parents to leave Christchurch because of Mr Ring’s prediction of an earthquake on March 20.

“I find it offensive when people make the claim that they can predict the timing of earthquakes particularly given the level of anxiety in Canterbury.”

Claims cause harm
He said he wished to make a stand and say Mr Ring’s predictions are “mumbo-jumbo nonsense.” Mr Smith said Mr Ring did not seem to comprehend the level of anxiety people felt in Christchurch and should not make predictions when he was not qualified to do so and when such claims cause harm.

“Frankly what Mr Ring is doing is no better than people crying fire without cause in a packed stadium or picture theatre.”

He said it was very important in moving forward with reconstruction and dealing with earthquake risks that a science-based approach was taken, including acknowledgement of what was not known.

“There currently are no credible ways of predicting when earthquakes will strike.”

Shouldn't leave Christchurch
He said perhaps science would evolve to when it could accurately predict a quake, but there was “absolutely no evidence” to show there is any connection between the phases of the moon and the timing of earthquakes. People should certainly not leave Christchurch because of Mr Ring’s predictions, the Minister said.

“I would invite those committed to science, including understanding what the limits of science are, should join us at the Sign of the Kiwi and, at this very difficult time for New Zealand, put their hand up for backing rational science.”

The minister said he had no worries at all about lunch and was looking forward to meeting with geologists and earthquake engineers at the Sign of the Kiwi this Sunday.

Moon man responds
Mr Ring said in response to Mr Smith’s comments that he was not fearmongering.

“So far, the media have one and all called me what Dr Smith is calling [me], in other words, the person who is scaring Christchurch, and making people flee their homes, which is absolutely not true.”

He said universities globally were working on the moon link to earthquakes and that he would email NBR website links to university studies on the subject.

“If I pointed out that there is lots of science and that it’s not just me saying but that many Universities around the world are working on the moon link to earthquakes, what would be considered science, if not that? What is not science?”

NBR received an email from Mr Ring this morning with links to a National Geographic article about a study co-authored by a graduate student from the University of California, showing a correlation between tides and earthquakes, and a link to a report on the study. 

Also included in the email were links to an article in the Journal of Geophysical Research titled 'Evidence for tidal triggering of earthquakes as revealed from statistical analysis of global data', a ThinkQuest site entitled 'Earthquake Predictors', a link to a Real News Reporter article mentioning Mr Ring, Russian scientists' support of him and predictions of earthquakes based on electromagnetic signals, and a link to a blog by biologist Dr Jennifer Marohasy focussing on Mr Ring's theories and the fact the moon was above Tokyo at the time of the quake.

Further links from Mr Ring can be found here, (article about a study from Paris Diderot University that claims a link between Earth tide and quakes) and here, (an article about Russian scientists saying neutron flashes and possibly the lunar cycle could forecast earthquakes).

Mr Ring finished his email with a question for Dr Smith:  "What part of these articles is not science?"

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