Ken Ring: Close: but sorry, no cigar

Sorry Ken Ring, you were wrong. You said originally that we should expect a big earthquake – probably bigger than 22 Feb –  on the morning of 20 March. The experts said that although aftershocks were still expected – and some of them quite big, there was no reason to expect anything as big or bigger as the 22 Feb quake on any particular day. The biggest aftershock on the 20 March in the evening was indeed 5.1. However because of the way earthquake scales are worked out, this is a lot smaller than 6.3.
Well do you think it was it as big or bigger? From a purely personal point of view I happen to think the fire service report that the fall of the façade on a Linwood dairy, already damaged in the first quake is not actually quite the same as the wholesale destruction of the CBD but I suppose it would depend where you were standing at the time. But be warned. A friend of mine shifted his possessions out of the house into the damp garden to await the big one on the 20 Feb. He is not amused.
Now I have no doubt your followers, most of who appeared to have fled Christchurch to avoid your 20 March quake, will not be in the slightest bit disconcerted by what seems to most of us as failure because as the day grew closer you became more imprecise. The real question will be how you will react in the absence of your predicted quake if it persists in failing to turn up over the next day or two. Should we expect honesty? (Incidentally, if the quake does turn up I will have to admit I was wrong in my criticism)
Admittedly even weather forecasters can get it wrong.
According to, Ken Ring’s Almanac for example failed to predict the North Island floods in 2005, the Bay of Plenty 2005 floods, the October and November 2005 floods in Gisborne, the serious cold snap in Southland and Canterbury, the June 2006 Canterbury snow, the Southland and the Central Otago Floods in April 2010. He predicted a cyclone Bola strength storm March 2006 for the East Coast of the North Island that failed to occur, a failure of the Crater Lake Wall of Mt Ruapehu
(“very likely to blow”) on December 2004…. again nix, and suggested that lots of rain and rivers up …trampers and school camps will be in jeopardy and lives could be lost for Labour weekend 2010. ….didn’t happen.
He does have some sort of success rate because his weather maps generally predict some cold and rain on winter days, some warm days in February etc but I want to suggest most people know the wet months, the cold months etc Predicting some earthquakes is also generally safe in that in New Zealand there are thousands of tremors every year. But knowing which day the big one will strike say in Wellington is a different proposition.
When it comes to earthquakes Ken Ring has a consistent record. He failed to predict the December 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami that caused so much damage in the Indian Ocean, the 2010 Southland earthquake, and the big earthquakes in Christchurch 7.1 in 2010 and 6.3. in 2011 You would think that saying that they will occur 10 days either side of a near pass of the moon is relatively safe in that this covers more than half the month.  I know for instance that he claims now to have predicted the 6.3 Christchurch earthquake (which when I read his prediction located the quake (7 or greater) very precisely as “somewhere” within a few days or so of the correct date), but unfortunately recently a statistician David Winter tested the accuracy of Ken’s predictions, including the many earthquakes that failed to turn up, and came to very different conclusions.
But nil desperandum, his Almanacs still sell. Ken is apparently convinced that what he is doing is science. According to Karl Popper, science progresses by falsifying theories ie testing propositions against outcomes of experiments and observations. Although I do not personally happen to believe in Ken Ring’s propositions there is nothing unscientific about his propositions. eg that earthquakes will occur when the moon is closer.    When this was tested by other scientists as it has been many times before, they could not find any real evidence that the proposition is true. However for his propositions to be valid in helping science to progress he must acknowledge when he gets it wrong. Thus far I have not seen evidence that this happens.

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