The Christchurch Quake Conspiracy (plural) – Part Two – The LHC

On September 4th, 2010, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, the largest city in Te Wai Pounamu, the south island of New Zealand1. Natural disasters, of any kind or size, are terrible things.

If, indeed, it was a natural disaster.

It seems odd to think of the earthquake of September 4th as the focus of a conspiracy theory, let alone (at least) three competing conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories tend to focus on events of political import; earthquakes are not particularly political, even given the very weird dictatorial powers given to a certain Minister of the Crown post the event. Bombings, land confiscations, so-called terror camps in the Urewera; these are the political fodder of conspiracy theories. Earthquakes, not so much. No conspiracy there, you might be forgiven to think.

Yet, the quake of September 4th has been variously attributed to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the HAARP facility in Alaska and even to a New Zealand-owned mining operation called “Minerals Westcoast.” If the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, then there’s just no room left in the story for natural forces.

Geneva: A CERN thing2

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been the focus of a lot of conspiracy theories, some of which deal with the huge cost associated with building the LHC (“Who paid for it,” the conspiracy theorist will say, “let’s follow that money…”), what its real purpose is (“Does anyone really believe they just want to smash particles together at high speed?”) and whether the strangelets it may be producing are eating away at the Earth’s core.

Now, this latter claim, along with worries about what the LHC might be doing to the planet’s electromagnetic fields, has lead some conspiracy theorists to posit the LHC as the primary cause of the September 4th quake. Let me crib the reasons why the LHC could be a or the cause of the earthquake from the delightful people at CERNTruth:

– There are 3 possible ways in which the LHC can cause earthquakes:
A) If the magnetic field of the magnets drawn above interact with other magnetic fields in the magma.
B)If it made black holes or strangelets that are now in the center of the Earth, slowly eating the planet.
C) If it produces perpendicular gravitational waves, affecting the antipodes (Tonga, Fidji region), which is reaching a maximal with occurrences at very deep level (over 500 km.)

Now, all of these hypothetical situations are, indeed, well, hypothetical conjectures3 . The LHC could be producing micro-singularities, which might develop into black holes, that would then eat away at the Earth, subsequently growing exponentially in size until such time that the Earth is swallowed whole4.

Now, it’s important to notice the layering of “mights” and “coulds” in this scenario; the chance that the LHC has created a black hole eating up the Earth and, in the process, causing the Christchurch earthquake is remote. For one thing, even if the LHC did create a micro-singularity, it would most likely dissipate before becoming a planet-devouring black hole5. Whatever the case, all the LHC is doing, in that particular respect, is something that already happens in the ionosphere on a day-by-day basis; the danger of micro-singularities actually being formed by the LHC is thought to be so low that you could run it continuously for longer than we’ve existed and not expect a stable micro-singularity to form. Given that we only operate the LHC for small periods of time at best, chances are that Amanda Tapping and Adrian Paul will not be chasing a rogue black hole through Christchurch in the near future.

Options A (the magnetic fields interfering with magma) and C (the production of perpendicular gravitational waves) are, in essence, examples of pseudoscience. Pseudoscience, the made-up scientific theories of non-experts, is the kind of science conspiracy theorists like to appeal to. Presumably this is because it requires them to have no accreditation, no pesky student loans and, more importantly to my mind, allows you to avoid abominations like the University of Auckland’s old online enrolment system, nDeva6. It’s easy to be an expert in a pseudoscience; just assert that something might be the case and then claim the burden of proof is on your detractors, no matter their qualifications.

It’s a little weird, actually, to consider the kind of reasoning that gets used in options A and C, because the people who routinely suspect CERN is up to no good also tend to be the kind of people who suspect the Intergovernmental7 Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be conspiring to persuade us of the “fraud” that is Anthropogenic Climate Change. You see, opponents of Anthropogenic Climate Change often argue that “Humans can’t possibly be fouling the environment; the six billion humans on the Earth, collectively, don’t have the ability to overly affect the environment in a disastrous way.” Yet, the conspiracy theorists who think the LHC is responsible for the ills of the world will claim that a single installation (operated by a vastly smaller group of humans) can affect the environment and cause earthquakes, tsunamis and the like.

They make the same claim about the HAARP installation in Alaska; more on that soon.

Now, if we extend the principle of charity to the conspiracy theorists in this instance you can see that this isn’t that big a discrepancy as it first appears. Conspiracy theorists who believe both that the LHC is making our lives a misery and that the UN is using the IPCC to bring about a One World Government are merely claiming that ordinary (read: unaided) human beings can’t change the environment but that extraordinary human activity (read: machine-aided human activity) can. However, once you admit to that, then you need to deal with the scientific data that, quite conclusively, shows that our industrial activity has had a measurable effect upon the climate (archaeologists can wax lyrical about how the Industrial Revolution is clearly marked in the C14 record, as evidenced by work in dendrochronology and radio-carbon dating). Once that data comes in to play, well, that seems to show that maybe the worries of the IPCC (and the cohort of scientists who agree that Anthropogenic Climate Change is occurring) are well-founded.

But I digress.

Tomorrow: HAARP and Mining

Notes

  1. Whilst no lives were lost, the aftershocks, ten days on, still continue. It’s fair to say, for the people of the Canterbury Plains, that the disaster is an on-going concern.
  2. I apologise for this poorly constructed pun. It really is quite terrible.
  3. And the award for “Magnificence in English language usage goes to…”
  4. Which, incidentally, is a plot point in Dan Simmon’s “Hyperion Cantos.”
  5. This is the current thinking on the matter by the appropriately qualified experts, although I should say that this is one scientific theory in which the debate is still ongoing.
  6. Which, for current readers and former students, has been killed off. Huzzah!
  7. I always want to say “Interplanetary.”

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

6 comments:

  1. ….I actually did have to read it to believe it. Not the truth value of the various conspiracy theories, but the fact that such a wacky assortment of ideas are actually persistent in some niches. I had seen a parody site about the ChCh earthquake which was highly amusing, but I didn’t think anyone would ‘actually’ postulate such nonsense, let alone believe it.

    by the by:

    “Pseudoscience, the made-up scientific theories of non-experts, is the kind of science conspiracy theorists like to appeal to. Presumably this is because it requires them to have no accreditation, no pesky student loans and, more importantly to my mind, allows you to avoid abominations like the University of Auckland’s old online enrolment system, nDeva6. It’s easy to be an expert in a pseudoscience; just assert that something might be the case and then claim the burden of proof is on your detractors, no matter their qualifications.”

    This is a rather good summary of pseudoscience and how it works me thinks.

  2. Psuedoscience is a grey area. We must remember that all mainstream scientific theories were considered “psuedoscience” before they were allowed to be handed out to the public.

    All scientific theories are verified by Rich Elitists and pumped out through the Education system that they control. It is in the best interest of the Elite to keep certain concepts away from the public because it jeopardizes their control structure. Most of these Elitists are members of Secret Societies who laugh at how stupid the average human is.

    Read David Rockefellers Memoirs. The guy flat out tells you how he uses his billionaires of dollars to start wars, famines etc…

    1. Pseudoscience isn’t a grey area; the term describes a quite different idea to the as-yet-untested scientific theories that may gain traction in the Natural Sciences. Pseudosciences are theories which are vague and cannot be falsified, make no testable novel claims, et cetera. There are examples of scientific theories which are not part of the orthodoxy but which also are not considered pseudoscientific; some would argue that the Many Worlds Hypothesis in Quantum Physics is not pseudoscientific but also not the orthodox view. People have legitimate debates on these theses because they have the properties we expect of scientific theories and are not pseudoscientific. Unlike, say, the proposed mechanisms behind claims like “HAARP caused the Haitian earthquake.”

      As for the claim that the education system is conspired… Well, if only. I’d be much wealthier if the rich elites were paying me off to keep certain things secret from students like yourself.

  3. Ok perhaps “grey area” is the wrong term.

    I agree that conspiracy theorists appeal to wild scientific theories that they themselves do not understand. However we must make a distinction between this and science that has been experimentally proven yet never realized by the public. I’ll illustrate a few examples:

    Nikola Tesla – possibly the greatest scientist/inventor in the 20th century. He is responsible for numerous technology that we use today but never accredited for it. It is well documented and proven that he built numerous free energy devices that allowed infinite free wireless energy for everyone on the planet. But for some reason these devices were deconstructed and moved into Top Secret government projects. Again this is all well documented so why are we still using fossil fuels almost a century later?

    Nazi scientists were ordered to research the Occult teachings that came out of the Vrill Society. If this was all psuedoscience then why is all the official documentation still classified? And why were the Americans and Russians so keen to get their hands on these scientists after the Nazi’s left Germany?

    Recently, Ben Rich (former director of Lockheed Skunk Works) admitted on his deathbed that his team engineered all sorts devices based on “psuedoscience” for the Governments.

    I view anything as “psuedoscience” if it requires the right hemisphere of your brain to think about. The old philosophers like Plato had synchronized both sides of their brain, this allowed them to use their Pineal Gland to interpret the two different perspectives each has. Philosophy used to be full of psuedoscience!!!

    Nowadays Philosophy and Science are stuck in a hole dug by the same materialistic spade. The majority of people have an imbalance in their brains that results in the left hemisphere dominating, the pineal gland shutting down and the right hemisphere fluctuating unnaturally. Since the left side of the brain is responsible for physical linear thinking, Scientists and Philosophers struggle to think outside the (physical) box. No wonder Science and Philosophy have grinded to a halt over the last century!

    Sorry for getting off the topic. I also agree with you that HAARP and LHC aren’t to blame.

    1. Woah, slow down. No one has proved Tesla built any free energy devices. We have to remember, Tesla was both clever and a rather ingenious showperson. He often used (essentially magic) tricks to try to persuade people to invest in his work. There’s no substantiated evidence for his free energy devices, just a lot of competing and contrary testimony.

      As for the occult sciences of the Third Reich… Well, there’s a lot of literature on what, exactly, this all meant to the Nazi war effort. What the Americans and British wanted their scientists for was mostly due to the the success of the V series of rockets, rather than their occult teachings (which lead basically nowhere). As for the Vril Society; I’ve covered that elsewhere.

      As for Science grinding to a halt over the last century… Well, I think the people at CERN might disagree with you. We’ve seen a huge shift towards a more unified, complex and explanatory science in the last one hundred years, one which has conclusively disproved the old Left/Right brain myth.

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