Ken Ring: he’s wrong about everything

by Gareth on March 20, 2011

This weekend a few of the struggling residents of earthquake-hit Christchurch have moved out of the city hoping to escape another dangerous quake, a shock foretold by Ken Ring, a New Zealand astrologer who makes a living producing “long range weather forecasts” for NZ, Australia and Ireland based on the movements of the moon. Ring claims that his moon methods predicted last September’s magnitude 7.1 Canterbury earthquake, and the M6.3 aftershock on Feb 22 that killed at least 182 people and devastated much of the central city and eastern suburbs.

But Ring’s methods don’t work. He can’t predict the weather, he can’t predict earthquakes, he is demonstrably ignorant of basic atmospheric and earth science – and yet apparently sane and rational people take him seriously. Are people simply gullible, especially those traumatised by two major quakes, the loss of lives and the incessant aftershocks? Or have the NZ and Australian media, all too happy to give Ring’s weather predictions, fishing forecasts and views on climate change air time and column inches, created an uber crank, a monster beyond their control who is now responsible for scaring thousands while callously building his book sales and brand?

I first started looking at Ring’s work five years ago, when I conducted a six-month audit of his weather predictions for New Zealand. I discovered that his forecasts were rubbish, little better (and often worse) than predictions based on climatology. You can read the full story in the Ringworld section of my old farm blog. In the course of that exercise I discovered that Ring’s predictions had been looked at by meteorologists and climate scientists, who also found them to be useless. In fact, everyone who has ever taken a systematic look at Ring’s weather predictions has found they don’t work.

What prompted me to examine Ring’s weather predictions in the first place were the blatantly nonsensical claims about climate and atmosphere he made in comments at the old NZ Climate “Science” Coalition web site, back in the days when they allowed comments. One that really stood out was Ring’s assertion that carbon dioxide, because it is “heavier than air” is constantly falling out of the atmosphere, and therefore can’t be warming the earth. This was back in 2005/6, and he was repeatedly told he was wrong. Unfortunately he seems to be a slow learner: here he is repeating the same nonsense in August last year, from his Youtube channel (warning: do not drink hot fluids while watching):

There are many choice moments in that little diatribe, but here are a couple of my favourites:

There is no way CO2 could get up there [35,000ft] even if it wanted to – it’s twice as heavy as air. CO2′s molecular weight is 44 and that of air is 29. CO2 sinks. If CO2 went up in the air the plants wouldn’t get it, plants would have to extend themselves hundreds of feet into the air to get the stuff.

What about giant redwoods, Ken. Or forests on hills? Why don’t all the mice die?

It [CO2] is so heavy that it gets into the holes in the rocks, it gets into caves, the miners used to get suffocated by it because it displaced the oxygen which is why they took canaries down.

Excuse me while I stop banging my head on the desk. Life’s too short to enumerate all the errors in Ken’s little video blog, but even a cursory viewing should be enough to tell anyone with the merest smidgen of scientific understanding that Ring is talking rubbish.

Ring is also comprehensively wrong about the way that plate tectonics drive earthquakes. Last month, flushed with the attention he was getting about his “successful” predictions, he published an article on his web site entitled Earthquakes cause fault lines, not vice versa. In this astonishing piece he reinvents the earth sciences:

The 4 September earthquake happened 12 km underground. Current geology wants us to believe that a mighty loose cannon of a 650 kiloton ball of energy, from 12 km away, hurtling surfacewards, has some sort of steering mechanism that seeks out old fault lines to surface through. Imagine an H-bomb the size of that which destroyed Hiroshima, heading towards Christchurch from 12 km away. Now imagine 43 such bombs in one explosive package of energy and you have the size of the 4 September earthquake. Would a 650 kiloton monster earthquake have bothered to set itself within the confines of a previously carved faultline? It is a little hard to imagine why it should be so respectful. Earthquakes can and do go where they choose. If there is a fault line there already, then a shake may shake that too and an observer will say the fault line was active. If there is no fault line the earthquake will make one.

Classic Ring, and classic crank thinking. He doesn’t know enough to understand how tectonics drive earthquakes, so he makes stuff up that confirms his own world view.

Ring has a long history of predicting earthquakes, and of making false claims to be successful. The Silly Beliefs web site has a very detailed section dealing with Ring’s forecasting efforts and his many failures, but more recently my fellow Sciblogger David Winter (who has also shown that Ring can’t predict the weather) used Canterbury earthquake data to show that Ring’s earthquake predictions are no use.

In all these cases, Ring uses the same basic tactics. In fact he’s built a career out of them. He sprays out a huge number of very vague predictions or forecasts, and then interprets them after the event to be successes. Failures are ignored or denied. Thus his claim to have successfully predicted the Feb 22 quake is based on this paragraph, published on his web site on Feb 14th:

Over the next 10 days a 7+ earthquake somewhere is very likely. This could also be a time for auroras in the northern hemisphere and in the southern tip of NZ. It may also be a time for whale strandings because of increases in underwater earthquakes. The 7+ is sure to be somewhere in the “Ring of Fire”, where 80% of all major earthquakes seem to occur, and NZ is at the lower left of this Ring. The range of risk may be within 500kms of the Alpine Fault.

Within 500 km of the Alpine Fault covers most of New Zealand. “Somewhere in the Ring of Fire” between the 14th and the 24th means, in Ring-speak, Christchurch. And he got the magnitude wrong. Nevertheless, he claims a successful prediction.

The day after the Christchurch earthquake he didn’t predict that killed 182 people, Ring published an article on his website with the following (taken from a Google cache I saved to disk):

The 19-21st of March will then be the next potent date.

Timing:

19 March – Time: at 10am,

20 March – Time: at 11.30am

Where?

The Alpine Fault itself seems to be fairly inactive at the moment. Our pick for an epicentre, if a March earthquake should occur, is some geographical point between Hanmer and Amberley. Geonet should be asked where stresses are currently happening. It seems strange that so far no interviewer has sought to ask them. However it could be anywhere in NZ, or it may not even happen at all.

Since then, he has altered the page on his web site, to to make a much less definite prediction. As it happens, I live on a major fault line between Amberley and Hanmer Springs – the Boby’s Stream Fault. Investigations by Canterbury University geologists have shown that the fault ruptures on average every 900 years, moving 2 – 3 metres when it does so, producing enough energy to deliver the Christchurch area a nasty shake. The last event was about 300 years ago. The fault is certainly still active. My house is within 20 metres of the fault line, expressed as a cliff. The fault runs through the middle of my vineyard, which is why my as yet unreleased Pinot Noir is called The Faultline (not the most marketable of brands at the moment, sadly). At 11-30 am tomorrow, I shall be standing on my cliff top admiring the view. In Christchurch, Environment Minister Nick Smith will be joining the Christchurch Skeptics for a lunch in an old stone building (The Sign Of The Kiwi) to demonstrate their contempt for Ring’s fakery. And Ken Ring will be sitting in his house near Auckland, talking to fools on his Facebook page. Whether there’s a quake or not, he’ll claim success.

These predictions, made by an arrogant, ignorant, and foolish astrologer have somehow persuaded members of my community – friends and neighbours – that there is a real risk of a major earthquake in North Canterbury some time over this weekend. Some have left home, others have admitted being unsettled by the “moon man” and his predictions. For people who have already lived through two major earthquakes, suffered the knife-edge uncertainty of repeated aftershocks, stressed and traumatised by the loss of loved ones, the sort of “opinions” offered by Ken Ring are the worst kind of medicine.

But the real responsibility for the stress being foisted on my friends is not Ring’s – charlatan and hypocrite though he is – it lies with the people who give him credibility, the newspapers who publish his weather columns and fishing hints, the radio stations that give him air time, and the TV stations who have credulously interviewed him or reported his earthquake predictions and their impact on the Canterbury population. Every mention of Ring, every Marcus Lush saying “you got that one mate”, even the well-meaning attempt by TV 3′s John Campbell to reveal Ring’s mendacity has served to build the moon man’s brand.

Ring is a fool, but he is only influential because a compliant media have made him so. Now is the time to treat him with the respect cranks really merit: contempt. He deserves to be ignored by everyone, and the media outlets that continue to give him a platform should be vilified. And the next time I see his bloody weather almanac stacked in the “science” section of a bookshop, I swear I won’t be responsible for my actions.

The spread of the Supermoon nonsense

Interestingly, the non-existent moon at perigee/earthquake link is being referenced approvingly at several of the more credulous climate sceptic sites – it says a lot for the intellectual standards they’re prepared to endorse and adopt:

Piers Corbyn at Climate Realists and via the BBC,
Jennifer Marohasy,
Tallbloke (more examples welcome).

More material on Ring’s recent behaviour:

David Winter,
Michael Edmonds,
Alison Campbell (note Ring turns up in comments to claim success for predicting the Feb 22 quake),
Peter Griffin,
Professor Euan Mason‘s pithy open letter to TV NZ for a particularly egregious piece of Ring puffery, and Dan Satherley at TV3 News provides a good roundup of Ring’s failures.

[Update 20/3 10am: just in, editorial at the NZ Herald web site: Charlatan Ring merits contempt.]

Special Ken Ring bonus bollocks!:

There is no reason to predict that anything added to the air is ever going to change climate. To change climate a country has to suddenly find itself at a different latitude. That means the earth must be knocked off its orbit of rotation. The only thing capable of that might be on the scale of a planet or comet colliding with Earth. One volcano won’t do it. [Source]

As we discovered in the early days of Hot Topic, Ring is apparently a follower of Charles Hapgood. See this post for more. The word lunatic springs unbidden to my mind…

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

bill March 20, 2011 at 1:43 am

*wibble*

Isn’t ‘tallbloke’ into the ether? (not in the Hunter S Thompson sense!)

Have you noticed that if you scratch a climate ‘sceptic’ there’s almost always a whole suite of other crankeries simmering away inside? This isn’t a coincidence…

RW March 20, 2011 at 8:25 am

I’ve checked out quite a number of Ring’s weather predictions, mostly monthly ones (the daily maps are a complete joke). They are so pathetically inaccurate that his followers must be completely blind, or in denial, not to realise this. The specific parts of his “forecasts” fail abysmally; the rest are so vague as to be untestable and useless. His level of mathematical competence is minimal. He tried to redefine the meaning of “lowest since …..” when I backed him into a corner over Hamilton’s very dry January 2008 (he was trying to dispute a simple statement from NIWA that it was the driest for 100 years or thereabouts).

Chilledbunny March 20, 2011 at 9:07 am

The man’s a moron. Though not such a moron not to realise that some people will believe and/or follow anything if said with enough convection (and a smattering of ‘technical’ terms).

Chilledbunny March 20, 2011 at 10:03 am

“conviction”

oops

Gareth March 20, 2011 at 10:30 am

Convection = hot air. Appropriate I would have thought…

samv March 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

Apparently there is a very slight, statistically significant connection between perigee and earthquakes – something like an extra 2% of small quakes happen at perigee according to papers you can find on scholar.google.com. So there might be a stronger connection to be found, factoring all of the different variables in, but I doubt it would be a much stronger connection than that. Even knowing 5% or 10% more likely bands isn’t really helping much.

I saw the close-up episode of Ringworld. In it they uncritically narrated that the Feb 22nd quake happened at moonrise. It didn’t – a month ago it was ~3 days after Full Moon and categorically not moonrise at 12:51pm.

Thomas March 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I totally agree with the sentiments on Ring in general and his total bladderdash in matters of atmospheric physics and weather prediction in particular.

In regards to earthquakes and tides there is a reasonable body of serious scientific research published in reputable journals that finds a correlation for certain types of quakes (normal fault type quakes) with tides.

However, nothing from the literature can be drawn to make any specific predictions of locations or times or any particular quake. The only thing we can say is that earth-tides may function as a trigger for the release of tension in certain situations. However the actual timing of this trigger going off can not be predicted.

Some of the literature here:

http://zisin.geophys.tohoku.ac.jp/ohtake/ohtake1-51.pdf
“…Our analysis revealed a significant correlation between the earth tide and earth quake occurrence….”

http://zisin.geophys.tohoku.ac.jp/ohtake/ohtake1-73.pdf
“…This result strongly suggests that a small stress change due to Earth tide encourages earthquake occurrence when the stress in the future focal area is near a critical condition”
( in other words, if the fault is going to blow soon, the earth tide can pull the trigger)

http://earthsciences.ucr.edu/docs/cochran_et_2004.pdf
“…The rate of earthquakes varies from
the background rate by a factor of 3 with the tidal stress….”

In any case, the real message to counteract Rings scare mongering is not to deny that a correlation may exist but to emphasize that no particular earthquake can be predicted with any of these studies and if at all, the effect is showing up in statistics over a large sample of events only and only for certain types of quakes.

retsilla March 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Yes, there is quite a body of scientific literature that points to some correlation between tidal forcing from the Moon and the occurance of (some) earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. However, almost all of these sources find the correlation so low that it is not helpful as a prediction of future activity. If Ken is aware of these studies, he ignores the point about it not being a good predictor of earthquakes.

When it comes to the weather, I am not aware of any studies that even show the slightest correlation between a weather phenomenon and Lunar tides. In this area he is pretty much alone with his “theories”.

vicky-87 March 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This is awesome… I have many friends who left the city because of his predictions… he is getting his daughter to defend him at the moment, back tracking on what he’s said… of course there is going to be a quake in the south island… its New Zealand, heck we’re still getting aftershocks… its a given at some point today there will be an aftershock within ChCh.

Australis March 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

“his forecasts were rubbish, little better (and often worse) than predictions based on climatology”
Bit tough on climatologists aren’t you?

Gareth March 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

In this context, climatology means the average weather for the day and place in question.

bill March 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Has anyone else found the ‘recent comments’ list is frozen at Tom’s reply to me on the Garnaut thread from yesterday? None of the above appear for me, for example.

Gareth March 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I noticed that this morning, bill, but a quick fiddle didn’t fix it. I’ll try again later…

Johnmacmot March 20, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Yep, that’s what I’m seeing too, Bill.

Nice piece, Gareth. I have, in careful technical terminology, explained that Ring’s ideas are bullshit to one or two people I know..

I was irritated by this nonsense.

John D March 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Guys,
I think you are being a bit unduly harsh on Mr Ring.

He made a serious contribution to the corpus of human knowledge in the form of his book Pawmistry – How to read a Cat’s Paws

http://www.amazon.com/Pawmistry-Read-Your-Cats-Paws/dp/1580081118

I can assure you that this is serious stuff. Just read the reviews of the book.

Gareth March 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

My cats tell me it’s crap.

John Mashey March 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm

1) Well, Ring might like the paper that caused me to call the Journal of Scientific Exploration a a dog astrology journal:
“An Empirical Study of Some Astrological Factors in Relation to Dog Behaviour Differences by Statistical Analysis and Compared with Human Characteristics”
This was a study of 500 Parisian puppies. Sadly, I know of know corresponding study of cats. Perhaps they were less cooperative.
For more on this, see this.
Amusingly, Ross McKitrick & Steve Mcintyre relied heavily on a quote from JSE, and Andrew Montford (aka Bishop Hill), even used it with added falsification in The Hockey Stick Illusion. Anyway, Ring would love JSE, I’m sure.

2) Elsewhere, indeed tallbloke likes Ring, but many others.

John D March 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Andrew Montford (aka Bishop Hill), even used it with added falsification in The Hockey Stick Illusion

You have evidence for this unsubstantiated slur?

Gareth March 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm

The difference between John D and John M, is that I know that John M wouldn’t have said that without being able to provide chapter and verse. And I expect he will be happy to provide it.

John D March 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Well provide it then.
I am sure Montford will be happy to discuss this with in your own time.

John D March 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm

John Mashey. Reading your comments on Eli Rabbet’s blog, I find your arguments tenuous in the extreme.
Someone quotes from a somewhat cranky journal, and that somehow invalidates their entire life’s work?

It would help if you elaborated on this actual quote, and then went further and explained your comments on HSI, but you prefer to leave it dangling.

Thomas March 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

If only he had stuck to his roots….. ;-)

Kiwiiano March 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Phew!! At the risk of an eggy face in the next 2.5 hours or so (in Ringworld, about 3 weeks) I’d venture that the 20th is conspicuously low in the earthquake count. According to ChCh Quake Live we’ve had only 3 today, nothing higher than a 3.2. It stands out especially on the week’s chart.

Kiwiiano March 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm

DAMN!! Bits of egg shell up my nose even, 5.1 10km under Aranui at 9.47pm. Biggest for quite a while. Sorry guys, all my fault!
Not huge, it knocked over only one small statue, didn’t stop the pendulum clocks, but enough to provoke a chorus of “Told you so….!!”

John D March 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Oh deary me.

Breaking News: 5.1 earthquake hits Christchurch

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4789898/5-1-earthquake-hits-Christchurch

My mum said to listen to the cats. They are much smarter than we think

Gareth March 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Damn you, Ian! (Felt it up here too. Guessed it was a 5′er down your way. My lot are being very sanguine. As I believe the young folks put it — meh!)

samv March 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

For what it’s worth, USGS rated it a 4.5 – though probably smaller quakes like that are more accurately measured closer.

So there was a little extra ~M5 activity around the time of perigee, this one and the other two further South. As some point out, this was the largest aftershock since the Feb 22 quake. Feb 22 was 3 days after the perigee. Sep 04 was <3 days after perigee. March 11 in Japan was longer than that, but if you follow the M5+ worldwide feed from USGS you'd have noticed that there was a serious number of smaller quakes around where the M9 happened, which started in that 2-3 day time period after the perigee.

Of course knowing that extra quakes happen in a period doesn't allow you to predict the magnitude; to do that you need to know what stress has built up on the crust. And that stress would also affect the likelihood of them occurring. All this supports the notion that you can't usefully predict quakes in this way.

Keith Hunter March 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Hello Gareth : Like others posting here I have done a lot of work looking at the scientific validity of Ring’s predictions. Since the 22 Feb earthquake I have worked hard with the RSNZ and Sir Peter Gluckman to counter his predictions, culminating in our press statement last Wednesday. The scientific evidence is quite clear – Ring’s predictions do no better, statistically, than the default position which is that earthquakes are entirely random in time. His predictions don’t even improve on the trivial model that there will be exactly the same number of earthquakes on a given day than there were the day before.

I have said it before and I will say it again. This man is a lunatic and we must not give his predictions any credence. One could say the same about his weather prediction. He is selling a product that is seriously faulty. He might try to defend himself by spouting platitudes, but he is nothing more than a charletan.

It is a tragedy that our society has citizens whose faith is so weak and deluded they give credence to such charlatans.

John D March 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

One could say the same about his weather prediction. He is selling a product that is seriously faulty

So pretty much like the UK Met Office then?

Gareth March 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

The UK Met Office doesn’t try to forecast the weather two years in advance. Ring claims he can, but can’t, and claims successes that aren’t. Read the link under Ringworld in the post.

John D March 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

My point is not to defend Ring, for whom I have no time (honestly, cats paws), but to point out that many of the above comments could be applied to the Met Office. However, I don’t want to get into a troll/flame war, so I’ll desist.

Gareth March 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

What you think about the UK Met Office is irrelevant, and off-topic in this thread.

RW March 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Offensive, inaccurate and off-topic. A ridiculous comparison.

[Please, RW, do not prolong this. GR]

tom March 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

KH @ March 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

This fellow appears the tool of others’. Fool he may willingly be. After all, attention is his need. Perhaps even creed.

As to those others, might we not usefully ask ourselves in whom, or for whom, does fear play a significant role.?

Over whom has science come to totally supercede via its results-based attainments in the past sixty years.?

Such matters are not science – and perhaps not thus on-topic here – but they are ABOUT science, and the role it be deemed to have in an ignorant and higher-risk laden future.

I’d agree with you regarding the persona yet ask that those who endorse and/or support him be borne in mind as much more important. If if off-topic.

John D March 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Well sorry if this is off-topic, but I think it is relevant to the discussion.

If climate scientists offer up scary scenarios (in Steve Schneiders words), that are often not borne out by the empirical data, then aren’t they in many ways guilty of some of the same things as Ring?

The motivations might be different (in the climate scientist case, political advocacy, perhaps, and in Ring’s, maybe a financial or ego – who knows?)

If you complain about Ring frightening people through dodgy claims, then it seems a bit unfair to then support making unsubstantiated claims about climate that are used in TV ads designed to frighten children.

Gareth March 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I’ve let this through, but any more in this vein will go straight into the trash. There is no comparison between the deluded ramblings of a charlatan like Ring, and scientists warning that their work suggests that continuing to use the atmosphere as a carbon dump is likely to cause a lot of trouble for our civilisation.

Be warned, too, that if you persist in making unsubstantiated assertions about others motives, they will not pass moderation.

bill March 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I, for one, would be happy never to read another one of these.

As always, the persistent infantilism of John’s ‘argument’ is simply tedious. Yeah sure, some shop-worn mis-quotation of Schneider proves that the whole edifice of AGW science is a deliberate manipulation. Yeah, and all of the science of AGW is repsonsible for some television advertising campaign somewhere that may or may not be more or less vacuous than every other television advertising campaign out there. And yeah, none of us can see through the pathetic ruse of trying to claim some sort of ‘rational’ status by pretending to understand what’s wrong with Ring while simultaneously subscribing to an overlapping set of fantastic and nonsensical arguments.

This isn’t even worthy of contempt; reading (and writing) this stuff is a waste of time, life, electrons, CO2, a half-way decent education – the works.

John D March 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Question for the reader:

How many strawmen did bill create in the above post?

Keith Hunter March 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Actually Tom I don’t think Ken is anybody’s tool. If you follow his sayings, e.g. The video Gareth has linked to, it is clear that he believes everything he says. At the same time it is clear that he quite clueless about what he doesn’t understand. Witness his extraordinary claim that plants remove all the CO2 at night (when there is no light). Few 12 year olds would make such a mistake. His greatest delusion is his conviction that there are people who would accept such nonsense uncritically. That’s why I call him a lunatic. He is not evil, just massively deluded.

Thomas March 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

The sad truth and the real reason we probably even know of and debate Ken the Ring here at all is the fact that too many people actually buy into his crap head over heel. This is a sad statement to the scientific literacy of the wider population and an indicator of our failure to be better educators (and perhaps entertainers) in matters of real science.
It is also a canary in the coal mine so to speak of our hope (or lack there of) to achieve a good science based decision process in our democracy on such important matters as AGW and what to do about it. As long as the pub folk love the irrational rants of Ring and co. we have a lot of work at our hands still!

RW March 20, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Ring’s original prediction was for something much more damaging than that. But he and his acolytes will claim success anyway.

Thomas March 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

BTW for anybody who wants to engage in some statistics with earthquakes you can download yourself a CSV file (opens in Excel) of all quakes on the NZ Geonet database with ease here:

http://magma.geonet.org.nz/resources/quakesearch/

Simply putting a start and end date in (say the last year) leaving the rest open will get a NZ wide set of quakes. Then in Excel you can sort by magnitude and throw the small ones away etc.

If you want to see the tides superimposed, they can be had at
http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/tides
and the result (one month at a time) can be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet too.

I could see no obvious modulation of the quake frequency with the lunar period for NZ. I wonder if the Ringster even ever went as far as glancing at any data at all before making his “predictions”.

Tom Bennion March 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I think the Skeptics response to Ring is misguided. He should be ignored.

By having a meeting in an earthquake prone building they are ignoring the rational scientific approach they are supporting surely – or at least taking a flawed approach to risk analysis? They have no more idea that a quake would not happen at the stated time than Ring has any idea that it might.

The better response would surely be, “Ring is colourful but to be ignored. People should take normal earthquake precautions and slightly heightened ones in Canterbury where there has been a large quake recently and aftershocks are still occurring. The predictive power of our scientific theories is not perfect but the predictions do run most of the modern world as well as sending spacecraft to Mars, Titan etc and landing people on the moon.”

Carol Stewart March 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I tend to agree, Tom.
On TV1′s Close Up last week, Mark Sainsbury tried very hard to get seismologist Mark Quigley to assure people of Christchurch that they would be safe staying in Christchurch for the weekend of 20 March. Quigley very wisely replied that he wasn’t going to play that game and counter one pseudo-prediction with another pseudo-prediction. So yes I like your response.

cyclone March 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Ignoring him hasn’t worked – in fact he seems to be gaining in notoriety – and he gets an awful lot of air-time and publicity regardless of what the Skeptics Society might do. The message should be that people in Christchurch who went away to Hanmer for the weekend are no safer today than they were at the weekend. (Although the time away would have been of benefit if it helped them relax a bit). Has the 5.1 been claimed as a success? If so, I hope the media look very carefully at what was said and written before hand. The only thing that will work now is if the media turn on him like a rabid dog and he is hounded back to his hole in the ground.

RW March 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I agree. Since his habit on weather issues has been to constantly make stupid remarks on both present and upcoming conditions, I have done my best to nail him every time I see such tripe, on a variety of forums. An example occurred last December – Ring had predicted a late start to summer (he often predicts coolness, since he rejects warming, let alone AGW – consequently his track record with such predictions is abysmal), and despite the fact that the month was more like a typical January at the time, tried to claim that it was still “spring”. No way was he going to get away with spouting such twaddle.

bill March 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Those who would like to see tripe earning the systematic caning it deserves in the media might enjoy the latest episode of ABC’s Media Watch – but you might need to get out the trusty ‘head vice’ and put aside the hot beverages before watching some of these shock-jocks woefully ignorant performances!

Mr February March 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I am with the non-flying lawyer my learned colleague Mr Bennion on this one. Of course Ken Ring’s pronouncements are wrong, unscientific and unsupported (indeed unsupportable). Ring’s view on AGW is very much just an irrelevant fringe outlier. Does it take someone with the smallest interest in climate change longer than a millisecond to work that out?
E.g. of course carbon dioxide doesn’t flow downwards – we know that the Moana Loa record in Hawaii, sampled at a couple of thousand metres above sea level wiggles and annually rejoins the CO2 trend recorded at Baring Head, Wellington at 50 metres above sea level.

Gareth, taken as a “Simon Morris film review”, the plot of your post is that Ken Ring is “the bad guy” and Climate Minister Nick Smith, hobnobbing with the NZ Sceptics, is a “good guy”. Smith has said many times he accepts AGW as good science. But he never applies it fully to NZ Climate policy as he always “balances” climate change mitigation with his Voodoo economics from the NZ Institute of Economic Research. Consequently, NZ has a useless uncapped-no-auctions ETS with free allocations of units to carbon intensive businesses; and an energy policy prioritising fossil fuel extraction. So who is more critically and importantly guilty of magical mystical thinking, Smith or RIng? Its Smith.

Gareth March 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

In the case of the ETS, I think you are pretty much on the money (though I suspect Smith is at least partly in thrall to his caucus and leadership), but wrt Ring, he’s right on the money. Think of it as being a bit like Paul McCartney — a true musical genius, but who also wrote Pipes of Peace.

It would be great if we could ignore Ring, but until the media does so en masse, we have a problem (which was the main point of my post).

RW March 22, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Exactly – while it would be very nice if the media ignored him, they keep giving him free opportunities to spout. National Radio has offended more than once. As far as climate is concerned, he is on the same side as John D and his mates regarding GW/AGW, thus helping to ensure the public stays ignorant or confused. Damned if I’m going to stay silent when he claims forecasting accuracy, and insults climate scientists.

tom March 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Keith,

Keith,

Tool I’d meant in the sense of something mangy, decrepid, lost so to say in the bottom draw.. one finds such things from time to time and.. perhaps the more conservative among us – there are millions of course as you’d find by clicking my link above – would be willing reuse for both old times sake and topical times’ utility..

I kid you not.. as to toolworthyness or otherwise.. the lesson of M&M (pointed out with context) ought not be lost to us..

Gareth,

I’m at a loss for your insistence on science/scientists rubbishing this fellow so as to deal to his banishment by media! And yes, I harbor suspicion of such a thing becoming counterproductive. Hardly a good look to perception of scientists solving problems..

Tom Bennion has it for me.. perhaps he alone here picking my no mention of the fellow by name as worthy..

nigelj March 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm

For a simple analysis of phases of the moon and “perigree” moon against a dozen of the largest recent earthquakes worldwide refer to the following link. Basically no correlation.

http://www.suite101.com/content/can-a-full-moon-at-perigee-a-supermoon-cause-earthquakes-a359246

.

rogerromneyhughes March 26, 2011 at 2:38 am

Don’t worry about it. It’s not the moon, it’s the sun.

cindy March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am
Gareth March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Fetch me a cat paw!

Brilliant.

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