Fact checking

Conspiracy theories are dropping like flies today – I was being told today about how the Feb 2011 earthquake that we had here in Christchurch was also at the same time as a 7.4 in Fiji, and that the two were so close together because they were deliberately triggered as a threat when Hillary Clinton was here. So it was fact checking time.

The closest date that she was here around the quakes was Nov 5 2010, shortly after our first one. She spent the afternoon here after flying down from Wellington, and we even have an  itinerary of  her trip here.

But aside from that, on to the Fiji quake. The list of earthquakes in 2011 doesn’t show anything that large happening near Fiji around February. There was one later in September of 2011 but that doesn’t line up with big quakes that we were having then.

So the closest Fiji quake that we have is the 6.6 that struck south of Fiji at 10:57 UTC, whereas the New Zealand one was at 23:51 UTC, more than 12 hours later, so the connection seems to be broken there.

But wasn’t the Fiji quake a warning against them from higher powers? How close was the quake to Fiji. We have the coordinates of the epicentre of the quake, which are at Latitude -26.142 Longitude: 178.394, which from an Associated Press report we see is 549 miles south of Suva, or 883 kilometres, which is about the travel distance from Blenheim to Invercargill. That’s a large distance, and is nowhere near the sort of threat that he imagined it threatened to be.

So after I was asked to check all of this, he went off cursing to himself. The video that claimed to have that information now seems to be quite incorrect, and I couldn’t help but to interject to him, “but there *must* be some way that the idea can still be right!”. Earlier on I was explaining that forming opinions before gathering facts is completely ass-backwards from how things should be done, which is to gather facts and then form opinions based on those facts. Even if those facts run counter to your own cherished beliefs.

I’m hopeful now that the easy access to reliable information will continue to have a beneficial pay-off on future occasions too.