Can only prove non-science wrong

19/03/2011

Before we drilled for water we employed at water diviner.

He wandered around the paddocks with a forked stick which pointed down at a spot where he told us we’d find water.

When the driller turned up we told him that and he laughed and said we’d wasted our money. “The trouble with water diviners is that you can only ever prove them wrong,” he said. “If they’re right without the backing of science you don’t know if it’s just luck.”

This applies also to anyone who says they can predict earthquakes.

Ken Ring has terrified people in Christchurch by warning there could be another big earthquake this weekend. Some are so scared they’ve left the city.

David Winter took a scientific approach to his predictions and showed them for what they are here and here; his account of being on TV here and the Campbell Live interview here.

The full moon will be very close to the earth tonight, but David shows that lunar phase is a very poor indicator of earthquake strength.

I have a great deal of sympathy for the people who have found Ken Ring’s prediction the last straw and have left the city for the weekend. Emotion beats facts and their fear is understandable.

And I applaud those like Keeping Stock who is visiting friends and whanau in spite of it; and Nick Smith and the Skeptics :

The minister and the Skeptics Society are planning to have lunch in the Sign of the Kiwi, one of the tallest and oldest buildings in Christchurch, at noon this Sunday, the day Ken Ring predicted another earthquake would hit the city.

The minister, who has a background in earthquake engineering and a PhD in geotechnical engineering, told NBR he had been taken aback by the number of people taking Mr Ring seriously.

So will there be an earthquake in Christchurch this weekend?

Who knows? There might be and there might not be, there is no credible scientific method of predicting that.


Did you see the one about . . .

13/02/2011

100 years ago – Kiwiblog on the background to Ronald Reagan’s tear down this wall speech.

Democracy is not freedom: an Egyptian case study – Not PC on the lack of options for those seeking a better future.

Commitment and the gym – The Visible Hand in Economics on a gym that has a financial disincentive for sloth.

The sock monster – Physics Stops finds that somethings can’t be explained by science.

Sunday Spinelessness: murdering my darlings – At the Atavism David Winter, self confessed  invertebrate evangelist, wages a reluctant war on wasps.

In memory of A.K. Grant – Quote Unquote marks what would have been Grant’s 70th birthday.

I got nothin’ – Monkey with Typewriter says goodbye.


Tuesday’s answers

23/02/2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who is the patron saint of tax collectors?

2. What is a mast year?

3. Who wrote, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know and in which poem?

4.  What is a windrow?

5. Who said/wrote A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.?

Gravedodger got 3 1/2.

JC got two and a bonus for teaching me something else about windrowing.

Andrie got a clean sweep if I accept to rather than on a Grecian Urn and I do. 

Cadwallader doesn’t get the five s/he requested but does get a couple of bonuses for wit.

David got three right and a sympathy bonus for the hay fever story.

Paul got two right – as in his answers matched mine. His answer to 4 didn’t match mine but justifies a point and he can have a bonus for wit/satire and/or desperation for his answers to 2 & 5.

Bearhunter got a clean sweep with a bonus for being word perfect with on the urn (which I wouldn’t have picked up if s/he hadn’t pointed it out).

Rob got 3 1/2

Rayinz got 5 (I let him get away with to  rather than on  too).

PDM gets one and a long-distance bonus since he’s answering from Britain.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break: Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

22/12/2009

Monday’s questions were:

1.  Who wrote “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house/ Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse . . .?

2. Who said, about Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!”?

3. What is Peraxilla colensoi?

4. What is a Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae?

5. What was the origin of Boxing Day?

Andrei gets four and a bonus because he was first but his links diverted it to the spam and it didn’t get rescued until late afternoon.

Kismet gets three.

Paul Tremewan gets four and a bonus for imagination.

David Winter is this week’s winner with five and a bonus for humour.

PDM gets one and a bonus for restraint.

Thanks to all of you who’ve taken part, hope you and yours have a happy Chirstmas and that next year treats you well.

Quzes may or may not appear in the next couple of weeks and if it’s not they will resume sometime in January.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


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