Home > Astronomy, News > Pseudoscience and the Japan Earthquake

Pseudoscience and the Japan Earthquake

Japan has suffered from a major natural disaster, and my thoughts are with all those who have lost family members and friends because of this terrible event.

Which is why I’m sickened to see that one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, has an article today entitled “Japan Tsunami: Was ‘Supermoon’ to Blame?”

Here’s the deal. The moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse. When it is furthest from the Earth (about 405,000 km) it is called apogee and when it is closest to the Earth (about 355,000 km) it is called perigee . This time is special, however, because the moon will actually be closer than it has been in 18 years…by 2 percent.

So some astrologers and other dead-heads are claiming that it was the moon that caused the Japan earthquake.

This is complete and utter bullplop. BULLPLOP!

Phil Plait of course wrote about this on his blog as well. So tidal forces caused by the moon are extremely weak, and even though the moon will be slightly closer to the Earth at perigee, they are not powerful enough to affect the Earth in any way other than the sea tides moving in and out. There is no correlation between major earthquakes and moon phases.

And guess what? The so-called ‘supermoon’ won’t happen until March 19. The moon was 400,000 km away when the earthquake happened, which is actually farther than it usually is on average (about 384,000 km).

I give The Globe and Mail a hard time quite often, but it is only because they deserve it. Peddling this nonsense in the wake of a major disaster like this is extremely disheartening and shows poor journalistic integrity.

 

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  1. SWK
    March 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm | #1

    I too feel that this is ridiculous. Good for you for calling them out on it.

  1. March 12, 2011 at 11:56 am | #1
  2. March 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | #2

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