Learning from America’s Ken Ring moment

Some of the headlines preceding the predicted December 1990 earthquake.

Peter Griffin is the head of the Royal Society's Science Media Centre, home of Sciblogs, among other resources. This article is syndicated from Sciblogs.

The furore over John Campbell’s interview with earthquake predictor Ken Ring this week really exposed a strong anti-science vein running through New Zealand that even we here at Sciblogs, seasoned from hand to hand combat with the anti-vaccination lobby, homeopaths and evolution deniers were surprised at.

As one commenter on Sciblogs put it, Ken Ring’s predictions and his methods have a “pleasant intuitiveness” to them that makes them sound plausible and offer comfort in the face of hard science, often explained in complex, unemotional or even arrogant terms by scientists.

America's quake prediction panic attack
Well, this week’s turn of events reminded me of a 20 year-old Science article I was sent in the wake of September’s earthquake (hat tip to Lynley Hood) that paints some striking similarities between Ken Ring and another earthquake predictor who has long since passed, Dr Iben Browning.

Dr Browning was a self-taught climatologist with a Ph.D in zoology who in late 1989 predicted the serious likelihood of a major earthquake striking the Mississippi Valley during the first week of December 1990.

The media jumped on the prediction and widely publicised them. Why? According to Science:

Browning’s successful scare was based on classic ingredients: a predictor with apparently solid credentials, a prediction method that sounds scientific, and unsupported claims of previous prediction successes.

Does all of that have a familiar ring to it?

According to Browning, who at the time was a business consultant in Albuquerque, the subtle bulging of Earth caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon – was  to peak on 3 December 1990 which meant there was a 50 percent probability of a magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 earthquake sometime between December 1 and December 5. Browning identified the New Madrid fault as the likely break point.

As the day approached, Midwesterners were in consternation and on the day itself, schools and factories closed and “…groups such as the Red Cross wasted precious funds in their efforts to calm the public”. The period passed with no earthquake on the New Madrid fault, people sheepishly drove back into town.

Why were numerous media outlets so eager to promote this bogus earthquake prediction? The answer has many parallels with the seismic situation we find ourselves faced with in New Zealand.

Throughout the 1980s, the authorities in the Midwest of the US had been warning the population about the risk of earthquakes, pointing out that the New Madrid fault beneath them had produced three of the country’s most devastating earthquakes in 1811 – 1812. While there have been few serious earthquakes on the fault ever since, the risk remains – a lot of research is underway in the New Madrid Fault Region to learn more about the state of the fault as a high magnitude earthquake in the region is expected to result in massive damage and significant loss of life.

Like those Midwesterners, many of us live in close proximity to a major fault line – in my case, its the Wellington Fault cutting a path through the city half a kilometre from my office. For those in the South Island, it is the Alpine Fault that traditionally has had them worried. There has also been a recent, fairly destructive quake in the form of the September 4 7.1M event – on a previously unknown fault. In October 1989, weeks just prior to Dr Brown making his prediction, there was a large quake in northern California (Loma Prieta) killing 63 people in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So you have a: an area of the country riddled with faults that scientists says could rupture and cause massive earthquakes b: a recent high magnitude quake that has put earthquakes squarely in the public consciousness and c: a guy who comes along and says he can predict when and where the next one will happen.

Throw on top of that the fact that scientists actually  have been, over the years, checking out the possibility that tidal forces can trigger earthquakes, and the lack of credible scientists loudly proclaiming Iben Browning a quack, and you have the perfect conditions for Dr Brown’s theory to take hold.

There was also something else seemingly compelling – Dr. Browning was reported as having predicted that earthquake that struck the Bay Area. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

He missed by just 6 hours hitting the Oct. 17 San Francisco quake on the nose and by only 5 minutes in an update a week before the disaster.

However, when December 1990 had passed with no quake on the New Madrid fault, scientists went back and looked more closely at his predictions.

Reported Science:

His claim to have predicted Loma Prieta was baseless, a video and a transcript of two of his talks showed that he had not even mentioned California – he had predicted nothing more than vague geologic unrest around the world. And his claimed 5-year-long record of prediction success was no better than chance.

You may have read fellow Sciblogger David Winter’s piece Ken Ring can’t predict earthquakes either which looks in detail at Ken Ring’s “prediction” of the Feb. 22 quake in Canterbury and whether it stacks up.

It all came crashing down for Dr Browning in 1991, according to Science when it was revealed that one of his biggest supporters, geophysicist Dr David Stewart revealed that be believed “psychic phenomenon is [sic] a fact”.

Again, some parallels with Ken Ring author of Pawmistry: How to Read Your Cat’s Paws. More on that and Ken Ring’s lack of formal scientific qualifications at Silly Beliefs.

Scientists did a lot of soul-searching in the wake of the Ibsen Browning debacle in 1990. They were criticised for not getting on the front foot and debunking Dr Browning sooner in the piece, before the media frenzy had whipped up hysteria. One scientist quoted in the Science piece explains the approach that is often taken by the scientific community in such cases:

The hope is that if we don’t respond, people will forget it and it will go away. If we do respond it gives the prediction a certain amount of credibility.

Scientists responded strongly this week to debunk Ken Ring’s claims as an earthquake predictor. Maybe they should have done that sooner, but I have seen the reluctance outlined above in operation here too and for good reason – look what happened on Campbell Live.

In the end the parallels between the shonky earthquake predictor who terrified the US Midwest in 1990 and Ken Ring currently putting a ring around March 20 on his calendar are incredibly strong. The question asked by US scientists back then was why hadn’t they learned their lesson about pseudoscientific earthquake predictions.

After all, there had been at least three of them in the 1970s that had attracted widespread publicity – surely the scientific community wouldn’t let a fourth gather steam? Well it did and the rest is history… and there’s a lot we could learn from that history when faced with earthquake predictions of this nature in our own country.

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Again..a good read!
Cant help thinking though that it is a shame we dont have these very same scientific folk getting equally excited over the climate / carbon nonsense...or is that a step too far because it involves big $$ ?

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Yes , the NZ sceptics society has been inconspicuous on the Climastrology disease.
What's the story Matt McGlone? Your former students seek a pronouncement , preferably ex cathedra; I suggest ex a pub in Reefton( if there is still one there).

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Peter,

Your blog is really hard to read. Maybe it is worthwhile to get someone to do a grammar and punctuation check.

Don't get me wrong, I like the content, but having to re-read sections to glean the meaning is is tedious, especially when all it takes is a couple of well-placed commas!

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I agree with Anonymous.

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I second all of that.

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All earthquake scientists must be pretty worried about their jobs now...

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Has anybody sat down with the data and dates of large earthquakes and noted the moon cycle at either full moon or new moon? If these natural gravitational pull from the sun and the moon can create king tides when in line, what effect does that have on the rest of the earth? wasn't Boxing Day Indonesian earthquake at one of these combined gravitational pull phases? How many more are there?

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Peter

Glad to finally hear a respected scientist acknowledge the gap between scientists and the general public whom are technically their paymasters and clients. But you have only gone part way and i don't think you fully comprehend just how much the mistrust and respect of the science fraternity, there is in the community.

Scientists treat the public with disdain and are viewed by the public in line with investment bankers and bankers post the Global Credit Crunch.

Ken Ring has gained his respect by firstly having the balls to make predictions - even wrong predictions are acceptable to most of the public. At last he makes predictions or provides valuable information in our language He also has over a long period of time been a more effective weather forecaster to the farming and fishing community than the Met service ( once again the Met Service - another Government department is so PC it has been cloned into an entity with no vision )
So when Ken Ring started earthquake predictions based off the alignment of the Moon we all believe him - it sounds logical - much more logical than the clap trap you and your scientific community speak.

Secondly Ken Ring does not cost us a cent for his predictions so he owes us nothing - if we read his predictions and he is wrong we can hardly have a go at him.

Scientists however are paid to do their job - normally by the taxpayer via the Government but also very much funded by grants form big bad corporates with conflicts and vested interests to the results your science finds. It is common knowledge that many scientific experiments or research undertaken has been the result of pressure from corporate sponsors on predetermined projects. So you can see why we , the general public, have minimal respect for the ethics, morals and professionalism of the scientific community.

The recent events in Christchurch around the earthquakes has only reinforced how scientists add minimal value to " the now ". They add little value to what might happen tomorrow or next month. All we hear is highly paid scientists telling us what we already know or believe. The scientists review the event and then tell us they thought that this would happen - hardly mind blowing intelligence or foresight.

So when scientists have a go at someone like Ken Ring they are setting themselves up for a hiding to nothing.

And your article whilst progress just reinforces to me how far removed your sector is from the public who you serve.
there is a saying that maybe ' your heads are so far up where the sun don't shine that you can't see reality from the shit that you are speaking and breathing.

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Good to know you've never gone through any sort of unexpected trauma of any sort. Why? Because if you did,you'll be seeking answers from anywhere, to comfort you. You do know how science works right? You do know that the scientific community has looked into the moon and it's links with earthquakes and there is little to no correlation? If you are willing to pick out scientific flaws (which scientific community does anyway, it's called the peer review process), why won't you pick out all of Ken Ring's flaws? Also there's a fallacy that all science is corporate sponsored which is wrong. You are so naive to think that Ken Ring doesn't have an agenda? The pseudo-science and conpriracy theory industry in NZ is worth hundred of millions of dollars a year in NZ and it worth several billion worldwide. You do the math. Also GNS has logged these earthquake and told you at the September quake that there would be a 6 coming, not only that, years ago in a Christchurch liquefaction info sheet released by the Christchurch City Council, a mag 6 would likely appear in the foothills of Christchurch if it were to occur. the epicentre was in the Heathcote Valley, right on the foothills of the Port Hills. I don't see you jumping up and down about that. The info sheet also very accurately displays the liquefaction risk in Christchurch. The info sheet was published in 2003. link: <url>http://www.ecan.govt.nz/publications/General/solid-facts-christchurch-li... . Here is Dr Mark Quigley's website, in which he debunks Ken Ring throughly. Dr Mark Quigley is the University of Canterbury geologist you have seen on TV. <url>http://www.drquigs.com</url>
Remember jsut because you don't ahve access to the information and/or access to it in a way you can understand, does not mean it doesn't exist. We all want bite sized easy to understand answers, but as with life,it's not always that simple. By the way, I am in Christchurch, was there for both large quakes. I'm glad the people in Christchurch understand science thus why the lecture theatre were packed beyond capacity when Dr Mark Quigley gave his leatures on the first quake.

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BLOODY BEAUTIFUL MATE !

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I dont much hold with Kens predictions have had his book this year and it is seldom right in my area. Could have predicted it better myself
unconvinced

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wether Ken is right of wrong doesnt make a lot of diferance. what anoys me is that we (the tax payers) have been paying these supossed expert billions of dollars for years to study these things for years and all they can tell us is that if there is a fault we might have an earth quake some time in the future. Even I could tell you that for nothing. If there hasent been an earth quake there before they dont even seem to know there is a fault there .As in Christcurch

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The debacle wasn't about Ken Rings theories. It was about the way John Campbell treated Ken on camera I thought.

The Campbell Live article said that GNS knew of 2 large quakes the day before the quake, and put it online. (before Ken Ring was on). Should GNS not have put out a loud warning? (Or would that be scaremongering?)

The CL article implies that "nobody can predict earthquakes" while at the same time showing that both Ken Ring and GNS have indeed made predictions, the latter of 2 earthquakes between 21 February and 20 March "by chance" put online 21 February.

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With over 1,000 aftershocks in Christchurch since the first earthquake on 04/09/2010, even if there was an "accurate prediction on 22/02/2011" by either one of them, most Cantabrians would probably ignore it....

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The real furore was about the treatment of Ken Ring by John Campbell.

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Excellent article Peter, although from the comments some people still don't get it. Ken Ring is a nutter. End of story.

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There is a place where logic bites its own tail and at that place science betrays itself as like another form of religion - given more faith that it deserves. There is more we don't know about the world than we know, knowing in itself being a subjective enterprise.

There are some who generate real results of tangible value to ordinary people in the hallowed halls of academia but mostly the halls are filled with fragile overblown egos, full of hot air, blathering rubbish in the hopes of justifying their salaries.

Jumped up in the idea of the superiority of their intelligence, they work ridiculous hours (which apportions to crap pay), often display garish status symbols (fancy cars, etc), and toil madly to produce journal articles or pieces of research which might generate a glancing sound bite at best (but more often no public response), with perhaps less readers of their works than a poster of a comment here, and smugly imagine they have enshrined themselves in some meaningful form of immortal greatness by having published.

The rather unpalatable truth is that they are just as insignificant as the next person and while they might consider themselves intelligent they do not live 'smart' as their ego leads them into self-exploitation.

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To those of you ranting on about the hot air that science produces and the billions of dollars wasted on scientists salaries, take a look around the room you are in right now... See the carpet ? synthetic or wool it is the result of tireless scientific research in to polymers and genetics (depending on the fibre). Are you reading this on a computer ? Quantum mechanics and electrons, which you don't have a clue about probably. Cell Phone ? Tirelss research by hot-air blowers into electronics, radio waves and more quantum mechanics. Been to the doctor recently ? Where should I begin ? A massive worldwide multi billion dollar effort in medicine has produces stunning results over the last century. In every single area of our lives the fruits of science are everywhere. You science illiterate idiots wouldn't have the foggiest what science really is and how it works, yet you are prepared to slag it and the people that work in the field at the drop of a hat. Start reading some basic science text books and get yourself informed. Science is the antithesis of religion. It is based on repeatable observations and has nothing to do with belief.

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"Quantum mechanics and electrons, which you don't have a clue about probably. "

And you clearly have a Doctorate in arrogance or perhaps were you simply born that way?
Either way, it's a trait commonly found in scientists of the lesser kind but rarely found in pioneers of science.

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Science also invented the car and which kills more people than any war... science invents antibiotics which expose the body to other diseases... science invents the nuclear bomb which will kill millions... science invents GM plants which breaks down the bodily functions... which proves to me that the real dopes are these university educated idiots with degrees that stick their noses up thinking that their bodies are of a higher quality than us ordinary people. But you scientists will be cleaned off the earth one day real soon and good riddance to you.

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How many of these practical outputs came from Government scientists?

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How many of these practical outputs came from Government scientists?

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Ken Ring is a charlatan, and as an engineer who has to talk to people about earthquakes I am grateful for the work Sci blogs has done exposing this guy. A shame John Campbell wasn't more professional at skewering him in front of a wider audience.

Unfortunately the general public are not highly educated when it comes to science, perhaps particularly so in New Zealand where there is an anti-intellectual streak.

What we need is more people in the media with a good grounding in science to explain this in a way Joe Public can grasp, rather than just have pretty faces who can gleefully report in front of a collapsed building and sensationalize a story.

But I do understand the frustrations of the general public trying to process the recent events, and understand the inability of science (i.e. Geology) to predict earthquakes.

It is an observational science only, with a very limited ability to observe what exists below the ground surface. Because of this lack of knowledge it provides little to no value in terms of predictive capability and more importantly an ability to make decisions about our lives.

Engineers on the other hand have to take this incomplete information and make meaningful decisions about an appropriate way to design buildings and infrastructure to perform successfully in earthquakes, which may not occur in the design life of the structure or may be bigger than estimated and required by building codes.

The focus switches squarely on the end-users safety but also keeping in mind what is affordable. It's a trade-off and decisions must be made. Geologists by contrast have the luxury of never making such decisions.

So yes, perhaps their funding should be more directed to research engineers. Which can be justified rationally for reducing our exposure to earthquake hazards in New Zealand, rather than telling us what just happened.

As someone who has observed the performance of structures in Christchurch and Lyttleton following recent earthquakes, I think we can be very pleased at the overall excellent performance of buildings given the earthquake shaking was far more intense than we design for. The bigger question is actually perhaps why so few buildings failed. The loss of old unreinforced masonry structures is sad from a historic point of view, but in the long run a blessing for our future safety. Many lessons will be learned from this, and hopefully fewer and fewer deaths and lower costs will result from earthquakes of such intensity in years to come.

So while there is a perception of heightened risk due to earthquakes right now, in the future our buildings in Christchurch will be as a whole more able to protect us (as the old poor performing buildings are gone), so our vulnerability will be significantly reduced. At least we will be working hard towards this goal - I can guarantee that.

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good comments

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"Science is the antithesis of religion. It is based on repeatable observations and has nothing to do with belief."

If that was all science was based on fair enough but science has one ingredient common also to religion - human nature.

Both fields have quested after immortality, for instance.

Science is full of theories and egos to back them.

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it is well known in the astrological community that our moon has a huge effect on the earths tectonic plates. so one could assume that it would also play a role in earthquakes. scientists are pathetic, lets not forget that they are notorious at disregarding ideas and hypothesis until there technological capabilities are able to test what people like ken ring say. heed not the scientist as they only regurgitate others dictations.

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It is quite obvious really

Science and scientists have a huge PR problem - no one understands what they do and no one like the arrogance of scientists who add no more value to society than anyone else. The rubbish collector probably adds more value at the moment - because his role is transparent and he is only paid what is fair for the work that he achieves and the outcomes.

The problem with scientists is they have no outcomes or in most cases no milestones.

I work in an advisory role and see first hand the Government grants/funding that science receives. Firstly they never deliver what they say they will deliver - NEVER. When they are at the halfway stage of their funding round - say it is for 3 years - they start new projects that are added on to the original project so that there funding now runs for a further 3 years and so on and so on.

But what is worse - when they genuinely know that there project has failed and has no merit, instead of stopping the project and handing the money back to the Government ( taxpayer ), they deliberately continue using the funding until the end of the funding round - despite knowing there is no chance of success

So not only are scientists arrogant - they have no ethics, morals and are totally dishonest.

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And Scientists are more than happy undertaking predetermined science projects for corporates or science projects sponsored by corporates with huge pressure from the same corporate sponsors.

They are also blurred by some kind of loyalty to corporate sponsors if projects arise with new innovation ( inventors ) and the likely outcome is that the new product could be better and more environmentally friendly that the corporate sponsors products. Universities are the worst at this practice.

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Maybe scientists should shy away from criticising Ken Ring and focus on how bad their public profile is and how bad their morals and ethics are.

Especially when we have a Government that is looking at cutting costs within Government and the general public will back cuts to lower level scientific projects and wastage with Government grants.

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the arrogance of scientists is at its zenith. their im right your wrong attitude is akin to religion. thankfully the majority of people are now able to accept others ideas without public criticism. you wouldn't hear the government saying that Christians are right and Muslims are wrong in their interpretation of the bible would you. so why do scientists think that their doctrine is the only body of knowledge that is acceptable, OH THAT'S RIGHT THEIR PROFESSION IS INFESTED WITH ARROGANCE.

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Ken Ring is doing a great job of separating gullible twits from their money - like Nigerian scam artists, astrologists, lowball share offer specialists etc. I wonder how much much he make from his on-line sales plus almanacs? Should be doing well given some of the hilarious comments from his supporters! Go Ken - take their $$$. They deserve to lose it all.

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"But what is worse - when they genuinely know that there project has failed and has no merit, instead of stopping the project and handing the money back to the Government ( taxpayer ), they deliberately continue using the funding until the end of the funding round - despite knowing there is no chance of success

So not only are scientists arrogant - they have no ethics, morals and are totally dishonest."

You are totally correct that this happens. I had worked as a research fellow on such a project under a couple of senior 'names' (such names are good at taking credit for other people's innovations, but FRST is part of the problem there).

I was disgusted at their use of taxpayer money, their disingenuous attitude. I tried to work with Government stakeholders to ensure we were getting value from the research that could aid in practical application. My boss overturned more than half of what should have gone into the research to make way for a pet project of personal interest saying they did not give a flying fig about what the Government thought - yet it was Government funding they were receiving.

I ended up quitting, completely disillusioned. When it was something I could not believe in anymore it was something I could not do.

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Part of the Government's problem with funding is that they put too much stock in giving money to 'established' names.

It is often the case that as people progress and become more senior (i.e. get 'names') they run dry of innovation.

So what they have to do is listen to the young and innovative 'no name' up and comers and manipulate them into letting their name head the innovation.

Once stolen ideas are acquired, you either have to work horse the innovator, keeping their self esteem down, to do all the work while you take the credit. Or you get rid off them to keep them silent.

In either case, if you got rid of them or they left after being fed up with how they were treated, what you are left with are senior names who have managed to get funding off the back off a stolen idea but who actually have no idea, nor ability, to bring the project to a successful end.

And so it fails.

The Government needs to put aside its own preoccupation with status if they want to get real results and focus only on the merit of what they see not the 'name'.

At the same token, there is also a lot of Government money thrown around for political appearance sake of 'doing something' - how much money is wasted doing that?

Further, when you enter Govt. and business interests into the academic system (which has been increasingly the case, started under the previous Labour Govt.) then the weaknesses and prejudices in all three of those systems can combine in some very bad ways.

The whole system needs an overhaul.

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No wonder scientists or people who work alongside the ( who also feed out of our trough ) are now on the defense.

Best they shut up and crawl back into their shells.
They have no right to have a go at anyone based on their corrupt and illegal business practices.

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To add insult to injury we are probably being ripped off the most by foreign academics who were hired to fill posts in New Zealand because our tall poppy syndrome deems that our own people must be inferior.

This being the case, our most splendid minds are likely to go off overseas to be employed where they are actually appreciated.

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Our own people aren't inferior - just not very honest

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They don't corner that market.

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i don't think Ken is much different to any of the snake-oil merchants in the prediction industry whether they're backed by " govt science" or not. Bring me back in the next world as a volcanologist in a nice little office overlooking the Wellington harbour,a couple of hundred grand a year and after 30yrs experience I will be able to safely predict that Ruapehu might erupt again somewhere between tomorrow afternoon and 10 million years time.The magnitude is a little more difficult however. At least Ken is not costing us.

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You can pick the science people. The chinese have been predicting earthquakes for thousands of years. I notice also that Amit Dave (India)has also predicted an earthquake on the 2oth March but does not say where. His predictions seem to be close to correct. Funny how those who do this thing for nothing seem to do ok when it comes to predicting the shakes but those who have millions do not seem to be able to do the same. Wonder where the money goes?

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You can pick the anti-science people.

They say things like "the chinese have been predicting earthquakes for thousands of years" when the chinese have about as much clue as anyone else (and have had millions of their citizens killed by earthquakes).

The ones who claim to be "21 year old oil rig cordint" (whatever that might be), and who can't spell "newbrighten".

The ones who claim govt-funded geologists can earn $200k+ and work out of snug Wellington office. If only!

That "science invents GM plants which breaks down the bodily functions" when no such link has ever been made.

That scientists have "no ethics, morals and are totally dishonest."

What sort of people are you? Do you really want to be guided by cat astrologers? By snake-oil salesman?

The stupid. It hurts.

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Practical science IS what makes the world go round but not the myriad of "experts" keen on media exposure peddling their predictions on natural disasters of the future. Interestingly there are no fault lines shown on the official geological maps of NZ for the Ch-Ch area.There might be on Ken's map though.

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Climate Scientist (sic) Pachauri at the IPCC is obviusly anti-science (but then he is only an effing railway engineer)

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The rubbish collector does more for public health and prevention each week than most scientists contribute in their lifetimes.

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science is a method of enquiry. Philosophy is a method of enquiry. Religion is a method of enquiry. I dont think any of these methods could have predicted the Christchurch earthquake. If anyone says they can, then they are generally looking at a crystal ball.

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As the saying goes, being a skeptic requires keeping an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out! For all you anti-science nut-cases out there: Science/scientific method is the only way we have to learn about the natural world. There are NO useful alternative methods (and that means zero, zip, zilch, nada). If you believe in Ken Ring's earthquake predictions, homeopathy, psychics, UFOs, pyramid power, new age BS, and/or any of a thousand other pseudo-scientific nonsense notions, you are a major part of society's problem, and you will never be part of the solution. Educate yourselves and learn what science is all about. If you can't or won't do that, then do the world a big favor and STFU.

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The article says Ken Ring has a theory. Real scientists would prove or disprove the theory, not engage in ad homenim attacks. It wasn't that long ago that "real scientists" attacked the person who came up with the theory around tectonic plates, and yet we have the whole area of science which developed from it now investigating earthquakes, of all things.
It seems to me, scientists use the scientific method when it suits thems, and other "other approaches" when convenient.

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Lets all wait until the 20 th has passed then we will know who is wrong and who is right.

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Lets all wait until the 20 th has passed then we will know who is wrong and who is right.

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Scientists have about as much credibility as economists! No wonder people are distrustful of scientists e.g. Y2K bug, Bird Flu pandemic - a conspiracy theorist could not be blamed for suggesting the scientists had major vested interests in making wild claims in the interests of big bucks. And it we consider the accuracy (or lack of) our weather forecasters (who presumably are scientists) then there is a huge credibility issue. So when scientists get up in arms and start attacking someone else (like Ken Ring) it is no wonder people get upset. The lines between 'science' and 'quackery' are not clear to 'Joe Average'.

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lets ask Penny Bright her opinion. Fresh from a crushing defeat at Bontany (100 votes ?) she can turn her attention to teh next earthquake. Such a mind should no doubt be able to shed some light on this matter

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