December 31, 2016

Deeper Look – Episode 99

Audio, in case you don’t want to read it 🙂

Hey folks, this last deeper look of 2016 is meant to summarize the state of the observers and set the tone going forward. Earthquake Forecasting… At this point, we can say that somewhere between 5 and 20% of the worlds most active faults are most at risk on any given day, given the factors in play at that time, and do so with about 70 to 80% accuracy. We consider this a first step in earthquake forecasting, first in a long line down a long road, and an intermediate step to putting areas on alert for earthquakes much like is currently done with hurricanes. Nobody should panic or commit resources based on these alerts, at least not yet. Since the sun has been quiet lately, newcomers might not know that we also are tracking solar driven storms and how the relationship is fortifying as the barrier between earth and sun, the magnetosphere, is fading. We constantly monitor space weather and the meteorological risks across the globe, and here on the website we discuss many other topics from ETs and politics to GMOs and fluoride. However, as the Disaster Prediction App has been released, and since the earthquake forecasting model is by far and away the most relevant and important thing we’ve got going, it will join space weather monitoring in the top slot for our focus going forward.

This leads me into that topic further. Folks, there is a pretty impressive fire inside this frail body right now. It surprises even me, and I’d like to think I know the bounds of my passion as well as anyone. If you haven’t noticed- this scientific effort is paired with a not so metaphoric battle. A battle to disseminate information and a battle against the inexplicable amount of negativity exchanged between people online. I am not always nice, I am not always polite, and most often when it comes to comments on social media we act as mirror- reflecting back the same tone and politeness or lack thereof that stared into the mirror to begin with. In addition to scientific progress in forecasting earthquakes, you may see other things happening on the side. Some may be wildly entertaining or of intellectual fascination, and others will seems like a bar brawl. This of course began with what was supposed to be a complimentary request for help form USGS geophysicist Jeffrey Love, which turned into him emailing people from his official USGS email telling them our model has never predicted anything.

Recently, after taking down the link for a while, a re-posted the link to my email chain with Dr. Love, and how this battle began. And within just days of reposting that link… some strange other challenges begin to appear. We have Igor from against the grain, who claims to predict earthquakes based on comets but who actually just watches the real-time feeds, which have 5 to 10 minutes on USGS and other reporting services, and then makes it seem like he is predicting quakes in real time to people who don’t know that there is a faster way to get the data. His challenge was accepted but since then he has gone silent and not returned my contact attempts. We also have this new channel, De Bunk, which righteously thrashes the likes of WSO and BPearthwatch, spending way more time than I have the patience for these days after debunking their same nonsense for years. However, he also makes very bold statements attempting to debunk us, a flurry which came just days after reposting that link to Love’s challenge. Others have come by as well, like alleged professional geologist Alex Duxbury, who made big debunking claims, then went mega-troll while stating he refused to even read our published papers.

Folks, this is not a coincidence. I do indeed have every intention of coming back to Dr. Love now that our forecasting model actually works in a way that everyone like Dr. Love should know and be attempting to improve. I will also not shy away from these other challenges. Igor and Duxbury appear to have headed for the hills, and De Bunk already apologized and I expect that conversation to go a bit further. So sad that Dr. Love could get off just as easily… with an apology for what he told those people in emails.

Bottom line is, if you are looking for a leader or a role model or someone who won’t make waves and prefers the pen over the sword absolutely, you may want to seek that council elsewhere. I am a guy who was rigorously trained to do research, found a pattern, and am trying to put the pieces in place. I know the value of the sword alongside the pen and I don’t plan on keeping either one holstered in 2017. If you find yourself not liking the way we handle some situations, I’ll expect that, just remember that we have a flawed human soul attempting to be the nose of an icebreaker, and that it is the science that really matters. I may be 32 years old but I feel a strange mix of time-forged patience and young energy, or maybe its rage. I’m not sure.

I do know that with all the progress being made here and elsewhere around the world, and with the truly remarkable things happening to our earth, magnetic field, and sun, science fiction writers may soon be out of a job. As the great philosopher TO once said, get your popcorn ready. This may end up looking like game of thrones invaded a graduate course in solar-terrestrial physics. Be safe everyone.

A Letter to Dutchsinse

Mr. Janitch,

I do hope that you saw our first written nod to your efforts in forecasting earthquakes and disseminating the information. As you likely know, small numbers of the members of both of our groups of viewers are behaving like complete jackasses. I have seen people who are my fans come write preposterous things on your channel, and on a daily basis over at our channel we see flurries of “You stole this from Dutch” – “Dutch taught you about the sun” – “Dutch said you are a thief” …. how do we stop this? More importantly, how can you do your earthquake forecasting in a manner that NOBODY on earth can deny? I have a few suggestions that will help you in this endeavor:

1) Make sure people can easily tell what areas are on alert at any given time, AND which are not. Many of your detractors say that you’ll name a number of areas for a multi-day alert, then the next day a few more, and by the time an earthquake occurs, it appears as though there are 20 different regions of earth on alert. Right or not, those claims can only be made because it is often difficult to determine what regions are or are not on alert.

2) “Plainly evident” is great. “Statistically significant” is better. Here are some facts that may help you choose a path in this realm: On any given day there is ~24% chance of a M6 earthquake. 15% of that is in the ring of fire, 9% is in the rest of the world. You can see what slice of the world you put on alert and proceed from there. The specific method we use looks at each M6+ earthquake and then the most-recently posted alert zones. If we were putting 30% of earth on alert and getting 30% of big quakes, that would be perfectly random distribution and luck. Right now, we identify 5 to 20% of earth at a time but capture 70 to 80% of the earthquakes. This is not opinion or debatable… because the data is there, and there is no room for interpretation- either the quake was a hit or it wasn’t, and how much area of the active fault zones were placed on alert is a simple fact as well. It is easier than you could imagine, but being able to tell whether you have one or ten alert zones is the essence of determining statistical significance in this realm.

3) We absolutely should try to have a common home for the forecasts and results. There are a lot of people watching us in private and government organizations, and moves are being planned at this time. They are going to try to make a play in 2017 and if we do not (a) get our people to stop fighting, and (b) find a way to unite the interests of our groups, we may end up watching a cloud of dust move toward the horizon. Who even cares if the people try to make it a competition at that point… the purpose would be to have all those people watching the same thing. As much as you want to do well, I imagine you are like me, and would settle for worldwide dissemination of these earthquake lessons so that everyone could know how to do it. We’ll accomplish both if we can get on the same page here.

Right now you do a better job disseminating information. I do a better job offering proof and mathematical significance of what has been done. We both need the other strength to be complete.

Ben Davidson

Showing 12 comments
  • Dave Posh

    Great end-of-the-year DL, both the part read, and the letter to Dutch. Wishing you a happy, productive and joyous New Year.

  • KittyMac

    What a year, eh!?!
    I enjoyed your last Deeper Look of 2016, Ben; and your letter to Dutch is both admirable and intriguing. Let’s hope he responds in a creative manner. Thanks S0 much for sharing these past several years of your evolving life with us. Each year seems to compete with the recently past one for intensity! Whew! You have my deepest respect and empathy!
    Lifting & enfolding you and your growing family in the arms of Love as we cruise into 2017.

  • Neferkheperure

    I also wondered why some people like to keep others in fear and it appears as you have said Ben, that they are driven by money. What is the ‘going price’ of promoting this type of disinformation and fear? As far as I am concerned they are selling their morality.

    At the sound of the tolling midnight bell

    At the sound of the tolling midnight bell
    a brand new year will begin.
    Let’s raise our hopes in a confidant toast,
    to the promise it ushers in.
    May your battles be few, your pleasure many,
    your wishes and dreams fulfilled.
    May your confidence stand in the face of loss
    and give you the strength to rebuild.

    May peace of heart fill all your days
    may serenity grace your soul.
    May tranquil moments bless your life
    and keep your spirit whole.

    – unknown

  • S0

    Happy New Year everyone!

    • SPS

      Happy New Year’s Ben.
      It’s sad that on the same day you posted this letter to Dutch, that he went on a rant about you for 20 minutes in his livestream today with about 800 people watching at the time. I sent you an email. Best of fortune in 2017.

  • John Mallary

    Well, you sometimes may not be nice but here you’re nicer than I.

    We’ll do an about face on dutch and we’ll see what we see. Hopefully it will be successful and the goal; Awareness of the Masses, will come to pass and Dr Love will see the light.

    With you as always.

  • Eric Schroeder

    Happy New Year Ben !

  • Ernest Bush

    Well said. I’ll keep the popcorn handy, myself. Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year. May your online audience increase to the size of WUWT.

  • harmonywebster

    Ben, Did you mean jackasses, or jagoffs? Thanks for all your efforts and best wishes for 2017. No fear.

  • RNR365

    Well said Ben. Great way to end the year. You gotta fight the good fight!

  • James

    Pertaining to the Letter to Dutch…Well said Ben. In the writings of those that knew Jesus, he is quoted as saying:

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of the Most High.”

    There is also much wisdom in what you proposed to Dutch. It’s a shame followers of you both think they are performing a service when they denigrate the other. Unfortunately it’s a fairly common occurrence. What we truly have is two individuals who, under different circumstances and with their ears tuned to the right voices, would make a good team and complement each others strengths and support each others weaknesses. Which is, more or less, what you said Ben.

    I can only hope that wisdom prevails and the progress made in recognizing and predicting these traumatic convulsions of the Earth’s crust is not lost in a bureaucratic quagmire, should the impetus gained by this community be eclipsed by better funded governmental organization replete with the corruption and apathy that typically accompanies such an organization.

  • noyouyesme

    nice Ben…beautifully handled once again…great wrap up, so much thanks and love and appreciation for your kick ass work!! Keep kikn-ass!…eyes open…

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