Expertise vs. Puffery and the Haitian Earthquake

I just read a Scientific American article about an expert who predicted last week that an earthquake near Port-au-Prince would be catastrophic. He was not predicting that such a quake was imminent but rather that it was a calamity waiting to happen.

Contrast that with a recent sparring match I’ve had with a misguided blogger who claims to have a theory that predicts earthquakes–but said nothing about an impending tragedy in Haiti.

That blogger’s last posting claims that if only he had been heeded, the death toll from the 2004 tsunami could have been much less.

He seems to think that seismologists didn’t recognize the danger, which is nonsense. Even worse, his theory is based on flawed physics — a misunderstanding of Newton’s Laws. His claims are pure puffery.

I have to wonder, is that blogger about to post something that claims to have predicted the Haitian tragedy? And is he about to say that understanding centrifugal force his way, in contrast to Newton’s way, would have given the people of Haiti enough warning to leave Port-au-Prince before the quake?

Stay tuned. If he posts again, I’ll add a comment pointing to the predictive power of this blog entry.

Fred Bortz

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