Ken Ring still can't predict earthquakes - Skeptics

Smug? Us? Skeptics (Hyde centre) with guests Sean Plunket and Nick Smith.

The 5.1 magnitude after shock last night was not the quake "Moon Man" Ken Ring predicted, the Skeptics Society's Vicki Hyde told NBR this morning.

She said the Society had always said aftershocks would be expected and that Mr Ring’s prediction had been for a huge earthquake just before noon on March 20, when the Skeptics, ACC and environment minister Nick Smith and corporate media trainer Sean Plunket had lunch at the Sign of the Kiwi in Christchurch - the highest stone building close to the February 22 epicentre.

(Earlier, the cafe's owner slightly undermined the event - and underlined the Moon Man's popular pull - by telling NBR there may be "some truth" to Mr Ring's claims.)

Ms Hyde said Mr Ring’s predictions had become more vague as March 20 neared and had changed his original prediction to a date range (19-21 March) and then to the possibility it might not happen at all.

Last night's quake was magnitude 5.1.

Originally on his website's earthquake chart, Mr Ring had predicted a "7+" quake for March 20. 

Since the original Canterbury quake, there have been 22 aftershocks of 5.1 magnitude or greater; GNS scientists held that there was a 5% chance of one on Sunday.

“That’s kind of like having a weather forecast telling you to cancel your midday beach BBQ because it’s going to be sleety and hail and a terrible howling south westerly and it’s a beautiful fine day but sometime later that night a small shower goes through.”

She said when earthquakes were tracked against the full moon, there was no correlation between the two, something highlighted at the lunch, which Ms Hyde said went “very well” and was packed to over-flowing.

She said clinical psychologist Mark Ottley had spoken “very movingly” at the lunch about some of the issues he had seen with his patients who had had additional stress and anxiety heaped on them by what Ms Hyde called “pseudo-predictions”.

Ms Hyde said that her children had been hassled by their peers on the social networking site Facebook for suggesting that according to scientific data, Mr Ring could not predict earthquakes and that such knee-jerk reactions were “objectionable".

“I’ve lived through many end of the world events, in my lifetime, whether they were massive earthquakes or cometary impacts or the rapture, the end of the world or when Christ comes again, none of them have happened. This was another thing that didn’t happen,” she said.

Mr Ring could not be contacted for comment.

Geonet had an expected range of aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 and greater of zero to two, and of magnitude 4.0 to 4.9 of two to eleven, for the week of March 15 to March 21.

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