Christchurch earthquake: Sceptics take aim at Ken Ring

By Andre Hueber

Ken Ring. Photo / Supplied
Ken Ring. Photo / Supplied

Nick Smith is the Minister responsible for ACC - but some might say he's just asking to come a cropper.

Smith and the Skeptics Society are planning a lunch in one of Christchurch's highest, oldest, stone buildings - on the day that "moon man" Ken Ring says the city will be hit by another devastating earthquake. Ring's prediction of another earthquake on March 20 - a week today - has caused alarm among some Cantabrians, who have said they will flee the city.

But the minister, who has a doctorate in geotechnical engineering, said he took a very dim view of people causing alarm with no scientific underpinning.

"I believe in free speech but just as people should not stand up in a picture theatre and scream fire, people should not be making phony predictions of major earthquakes."

The Herald on Sunday reported last week that both Ring and television psychic Deb Webber were predicting a further earthquake in the city, to the fury of city leaders and the scientific community.

Smith said he was aware of other geologists and earthquake engineers who would also attend next Sunday's lunch, to "strongly discredit" Ring's claims.

Smith said he was "surprised and taken aback" by the number of people who had given credence to the prediction.

So, is this the pride before a fall? The ACC minister said no.

"It is important that such nonsense is exposed and people with good science point out the flaws in those who claim they can predict when earthquakes can occur."

The lunch will be held at noon on March 20 at the Sign of the Kiwi, on the top of the Port Hills - which Smith said was the closest building to the epicentre of the February 22 quake.

Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde said she wouldn't be surprised if a shake happened during the lunch because Christchurch had been getting shakes almost every day - "but it wouldn't have anything to do with what Ken Ring's been saying".

Earthquake engineers and geologists are invited to attend the meal, for a discussion about "the earth moving under our feet and what we know and don't know".

Hyde said science was about uncertainty - it was "the ones who say they know what's going to happen" who had to be treated with caution.

She said Ken Ring had scared a lot of people.

"When you get situations where people start to create panic you really do have to say, that's bulls**t mate.

"Kiwis have a tendency to believe people who demonstrate certainty and have a bad habit of not asking the hard questions."

- Herald on Sunday

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