It seems that when natural disaster strikes, hysteria takes over. Rumors, and mis-impressions, and ignorance and outright lies start traveling as fast as a tsunami wave across the ocean. Faster, now that we’re in the age of the internet and instant communications. The recent one in Japan is no exception.
And of course, there is the usual religious blather. I’m waiting for Pat Robertson to claim that it’s all because of teh gays.
Donald Prothero over at The Panda’s Thumb has a nice, level headed post that gives us the straight skinny on Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and other matters (no bears). I suggest you check it out. You’ll be a lot smarter, and a bit wiser for doing so.
A couple of highlights:
On the Japan Earthquake:
The shaking was so extreme that the upward force on the people and objects was about 0.3 times the acceleration of gravity. Since the initial event, there were over 600 Mw 6.0 aftershocks in the first 24 hours, and thousands of smaller ones, and the area is still feeling them more than 48 hours later.
On the Tsunami:
Ever since consciousness-raising of the 2004 Sumatran disaster, people have gradually stopped mislabeling seismic sea waves as “tidal waves” (since tides are not involved in these waves, which are generated by earthquakes, volcanoes, or landslides). Now they refer to them by their proper name “tsunami,” which means “harbor wave” in Japan, a country that has experienced many of them over the past centuries.
On earthquake predicting:
As Charles Richter himself said, “Only fools, charlatans, and liars predict earthquakes.”
All this attempt to stir up a media frenzy and put out crazy notions about supermoons affecting earthquakes, volcanoes, and weather is pure bunk …. Those who do so are trying to get free media attention, since the media these days can’t tell what is news and what is garbage.
You may have to wait quite awhile for that to happen. CBN has a different spin this time around. Robertson’s son, Gordon, says the End Times are a-comin’.
As usual, the Robertsons speak out of their sphincter. From the article:
So, if that’s the case, why didn’t the End Times™ happen in the 60s?
I’m guessing that’s the same “Prothro” who has written several good books on evolution. One I read called “The Age of Mammals” was incredibly interesting. There have been many amazingly odd giants (now extinct) since the Age of Dinosaurs ended. Errr… since they died in “the flood”.
I’m waiting for the Christians to point out that Japan is one of the least religious countries in the industrialized world and those who ARE religious – aren’t Christians, so that’s why “god done it”. So far they’ve been pointing out that it’s “divine retribution” for Pearl Harbor (search facebook comments), but I think they’ll get on to the other stuff soon. Probably after they recall (“learn”) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pretty overwhelming forms of “retribution”.
Tsunamis come in. Tsunamis go out. Never a missed communication.
So far they’ve been pointing out that it’s “divine retribution” for Pearl Harbor (search facebook comments), but I think they’ll get on to the other stuff soon. Probably after they recall (“learn”) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pretty overwhelming forms of “retribution”.
Funny, my Filipina wife said the same thing yesterday, that it was some form of divine retribution for what the Japanese did to the Philippines during WWII. I said “Honey, I think Hiroshima and Nagasaki was retribution for what they did in WWII. And why should Japanese people today be punished with earthquakes and tsunamis for what their grandparents did? And what about the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand? What did they do that god was mad at them?”
It took a while, but I think I was finally able to penetrate her skull and get her to recognize it was a natural event.
You watch this, and you can almost understand why religion holds such an attraction to people. It’s human nature for someone to turn to religion for comfort. Our ancestors more so than us.
If you have no knowledge or real understanding of how the natural world works, and you are confronted with something that randomly, and infrequently, acts unnaturally, such as a natural catastrophe like an earthquake or a tsunami, it would be normal, almost expected, to fall back on a supernatural explanation.
Today, most people have access to seismology and geology, yet they still fall back on comforting religious notions. (Although frankly I see nothing comforting about a god that either can stop these things and doesn’t, or purposefully causes them.) This is where it’s fair to accuse them of willful ignorance. They CAN know the reasons, but choose to ignore them in favor of superstition and magic.
That’s what I find incomprehensible about religion.
So, earthquakes are natural, but they work unnaturally? Can you clarify that for me?
For those that need to be spoon fed, let me clarify:
Why insult me? You’re the one who wrote it.
And you’re the one that picked out a small, obvious grammatical error to highlight as a comment. No one else had a problem understanding what I said from the context. I doubt you did either. But instead you lord it over dumb old SI for making a mistake.
Woo-hoo! Big talker usin’ cusswords because he’s oh-so-rational. Love ya buddy. You need to lighten up, quite a bit.