on the Today show today, Meredith Viera interviewed author and earthquake “expert” Simon Winchester, who (according to Mediaite):
[M]ade a disturbing connection between the epic earthquake and tsunami in Japan and recent devastating quakes in New Zealand and Chile, saying the three events were in three corners of a square in the Pacific some call the “Ring of Fire.” The fourth corner is California and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Winchester told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira a massive event along the San Andreas Fault in California is “inevitable.”
Being a TV expert is a wonderful thing. Think about this: first of all, Winchester, while an entertaining author, isn’t presenting a scientific theory at all. In fact, about the only source I can find on this idea seem to be people who say the “super full moon” this month is causing the earthquake.
More than that, there’s this “three sides of a square” thing. Yes, if you’re sufficiently flexible, the 2004 Indonesian earthquake, the Chilean earthquake last year, and last week’s Honshu earthquake, do form a rough square — but the “Ring of Fire” is anything but a square:
Those three earthquakes may form three sides of a rough square — but they also form a triangle. Before this Honshu quake, Indonesia and Chile would have made a line — and if there’s another quake anywhere on the “ring of fire” then they will make a rough square, but also will be four sides of a rough pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon — there’s a good one, seven sides, the American indians made a lot of heptagons.
But the best part of all is that he’s right: there will certainly be another major quake, and there will undoubtedly be another quake off the coast of Washington. Someday. By avoiding making a firm prediction, Winchester makes one that will eventually come true.
The lesson here: apparently, to a good publicist, there’ a network news booker born every minute.