Subject: Earthquake Prediction and Lunar Eclipses

I watched the show, "Sightings", on the Sci-Fi channel. There was a story about someone from the University of Hawaii who could predict earthquakes, and I would like more information. Do you have an e-mail address? If so, could you please send it to me?

    Nobody at the University of Hawaii predicts earthquakes. The person on "Sightings" was Michael Lee, a teacher of religion and history at Damien High School in Honolulu.
    I am convinced that Mr. Lee's predictions have no merit. His basic idea is that an earthquake occurs sometime after the passage of a lunar eclipse in the area from which the eclipse is visible. The trouble is that the areas involved are huge, and his prediction windows last for as long as sixteen days after an eclipse. Since the Earth has about ten earthquakes of greater than magnitude 5 every day, Lee's technique is guaranteed to "predict" a large number of earthquakes, regardless of whether there is actually a link between earthquakes and eclipses. Lee claims a success rate of 40%. 40% seems impressive, until you realize that if you chose locations completely at random (instead of being guided by eclipses) but otherwise followed his procedure, you would also get a 40% hit rate. In other words, Mr. Lee's predictions are no better than completely random guesses. In saying this, however, I do not mean to imply that Mr. Lee is in any way insincere; I am sure he is convinced that his method works.
    You can make up your own mind after visiting Mr. Lee's earthquake prediction web page

Gerard Fryer
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
University of Hawaii, Honolulu HI 96822

Note from the editor: The comments of our expert are not a general indictment against the Sci-Fi channel, the television program "Sightings" or Mr. Lee. Rather, they point out flaws in the logic of this prediction technique. Mr. Lee points out at his web site that he has a "prefered" method based upon the much less frequent occurrence of solar eclipses, which is not addressed here.

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