Twitter is all a-twitter with the revelation that a big earthquake will hit Southern California some time today through Friday, but those freaking out likely have no idea that the source of the ground-shaking news has been labeled a "Quake Quack."
Luke Thomas has for years made online predictions on QuakePrediction.com, and he apparently has a following, judging by the Motorola, Hewlitt-Packard and First 5 California advertisements sprinkled about the site.
An earlier visit today showed a banner advertisement at the top of the home page with photos of a platinum blonde on her back and ample breasts (presumably hers) stuffed into a black bra. It's for some kind of online game that makes players who join now "feel like a king."
Southern Californians who want to feel king-like had better hurry and join because directly underneath the ad is the warning that there is a "very high risk" that a "significant" earthquake will hit the region between today and Friday.
Don't you hate it when a significant earthquake strikes in the middle of a work week?
"A significant earthquake (5.0 to 6.5) is likely April 12-16, more likely April 12-14 and most likely on April 12-13," claims the site. "Highest risk is from Frazier Park to San Bernardino & Seeley."
QuakePrediction.com informs its data shows faults across the southern portion of California "have been very 'hot'" since March 24.
Such a warning gets traction thanks to the magnitude 7.2 quake that hit northern Baja California on April 4 and produced a train-ride effect for millions of Southern Californians.
"This is an area with a high level of historical seismicity and has recently been seismically active, though this is the largest event to strike in this area since 1892," reports the Cal Tech Seismological Lab in Pasadena. "This earthquake appears to be larger than the M 6.9 earthquake in 1940 or any of the early 20th century events (e.g., 1915 and 1934) in this region of northern Baja California."
But quick searches of that site, the Southern California Earthquake Data System and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) produced no warnings similar to the one on QuakePrediction.com. That because scientists have developed no reliable way to predict quakes, although not for lack of trying.
Thomas received a lot of attention in the Bay Area in 2007 when an earthquake that struck the region was preceded by a warning on his QuakePrediction.com.
The "Research" page of his site stresses, "I am not associated with the USGS," explaining his predictions are based on changes in air temperature, water temperature and human and animal behavior, including--in one recent case--an exodus of toads.
Thomas claims to have accurately predicted 75 percent of earthquakes. Perhaps, then, it is the other 25 percent that have led his methods to be questioned by the Doubting Thomas of Medialand.
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Almost a year ago to the day, Orange County Register "Sciencedude" Gary Robbins informed that QuakePredictions.com was reporting a "dangerous amount of energy" had built up in the Los Angeles area, making a 5.0 to 6.5 magnitude quake likely in the northeastern part of that county some time between April 13-15, 2009.
"No such quake occurred during the April 13-15 window," the Sciencedude blogged. "In fact, there hasn't been a 5.0 or larger quake in the urban part of greater Los Angeles since last July, when a 5.4 quake hit just north of Yorba Linda."
SFist was less kind earlier that same year, calling Thomas a a "Quake Quack" and "quite possibly schizophrenic," which may help explain why QuakePrediction.com's California maps appear to have been colored brightly by Crayons. One doesn't want to keep sharp objects around such folks.
"He can probably call himself 90 percent accurate every week," SFist sums up, "even if there's only a tiny tremor 200 miles from where he said it could be."