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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Do Gays Cause Earthquakes?

Christopher OBrien responds to an idiotic column which made the claims that gays cause earthquakes.

Bill Ashmore's piece (Times 21 June 2006 - Signs of the Times, Judgment of America) suggests that America is a doomed nation in the 21st century. According to Ashmore the apparent increase of earthquakes and hurricanes is best explained by a God who has his knickers in a twist over Gay Pride Day. I suspect Ashmore is giving us better insight on the thought processes of 12th century clerics than offering a predictive model of volcanism, so I did what anyone with a modicum of intellectual acuity would do: I checked the data. Ashmore claims major earthquakes are on the rise since Roe v Wade and the exercise of First Amendment rights by the gay community. Turns out the correlation between years since 1970 and earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater is almost zero (and by the way, we experience an average of seven major quakes per year). If God is indeed causing earthquakes He is doing so, contrary to Einstein's dictum, on the basis of dice rolls. While God did hit home with an earthquake on Gay Pride Day in 1992 as Ashmore suggests, He has been AWOL delivering a major rumbler every last Sunday in June since (or any before). You would also think that if God wanted to make a point about abortion, He'd at least try to strike on the anniversary of Roe V Wade every once in a while. However, since 1973 no quake stronger than magnitude 5.0 has ever occurred on that day in the United States (however, God did apparently strike Mexico on that particular anniversary in 1978; so I guess He tried, but...missed?). When you limit your sample to only those data that fit your idea, it's pretty easy to demonstrate "correlation".

Apparently the source material for the idiotic column comes from John McTernan's book, God's Final Warning to America.

The earthquake sequence begins on April 23, 1992, and the United States Supreme Court hearing the Planned Parenthood v Casey case. This case had tremendous national implications as it was thought it could be used by the Court to overturn the Roe v Wade case of 1973. On this very day the Joshua Tree quake occurred.

The Joshua Tree quake was alarming to seismologists. This quake tore a 15-mile gash in the earth and was felt from San Diego to Las Vegas to Phoenix. It caused over 6,000 aftershocks. This quake was very close in proximity to the San Andreas Fault line. This earthquake caused a San Andreas Hazard B warning to be declared. This warning meant there was a 5 to 25% chance of an earthquake occurring on the San Andreas Fault within three days. The quake on the San Andreas did not happen, but the powerful Landers quake occurred two months later. The pressure the Joshua Tree earthquake was believed by the scientists to have triggered the Landers quake.

The last Sunday in June is always Gay Pride Day. In 1992, it fell on June 28. The next day, June 29, the Supreme Court issued the ruling for the Planned Parenthood v Casey case. The Court failed to use the Casey case to overturn Roe v Wade. The Court upheld that abortion was legal. June 28 was a huge homosexual event and June 29 was a huge pro-abortion victory.

In the early morning hours just before the Gay Pride Day parade in Los Angeles, the Landers and Big Bear quakes struck. Landers was one of the most powerful earthquakes in the twentieth century. It was the second most powerful since the San Francisco quake of 1906. Landers quake tore a 53-mile long gash in the earth! The power was so great that it was felt 800 miles away and set off earthquakes all over the western part of the nation. The Big Bear quake occurred three hours later and was reported by the scientists to be directly connected to the Landers quake. The faults of the two earthquakes were very close, only 20 miles away.

This sounds like Science: Michele Bachmann style.