Robert Koch
user 11642209
Whangarei, NZ
Post #: 15
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Hi, wondering if anyone is going to see Ken Ring's talk at TEDxAuckland tomorrow?

http://www.tedxauckla...­
grant
GrantB
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 14
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I am surprised that he would be invited to give a TED talk.

They are supposed to be about 'Technology Entertainment and Design', and I am unsure where Ken would fall into any of those.

From what I understand of Ken Ring theories, they have all the hallmarks of a pseudo-science, but I would interested in seeing the results of somebody take a good Skeptical look. Putting aside the implausibility of his theories, has somebody yet done a blind/impartial retrospective analysis to see if his predictions are actually statistically better than chance?

[update]. I did some Googling starting here: http://www.sillybelie... and see that his predictions have already been taken apart.

Yet look at the recent RadioLive links and you can hear him claiming that he predicted the Christchurch earthquake.. though apparently only on air after the actual event. What a surprise.

Steve Taylor
user 10406695
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 3
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I contacted Silly Beliefs back in June, asking for data and offering to perform some statistical tests using data that NIWA are now making freely available. Here's my message and their reply:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Silly Beliefs
Date: 24 June 2010 15:11
Subject: Re: Statistical analysis of Ken Ring's predictions
To: Steve Taylor

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your comments. No sorry, we don’t have any of Ring’s predictions in electronic form. We’ve had to consult his almanacs. He does put some of his basic predictions online in his ‘Weather ezine’ at this address:

http://lists.topica.c...­

They go from 2000 to 2009. I’m assuming he probably wouldn’t be willing to release data that could allow easy, large-scale comparisons with the real world. Ring of course claims that these checks have already been performed, but only by himself it seems, and not by an independent expert, such as a statistician.

Of course as we both know anybody that really believed in their system and wanted to convince a skeptical audience would readily release their data to prove their claims, so you could always ask Ring for a copy. Ring’s past data is now history, public knowledge in his almanacs, and of no commercial value, so an unwillingness to divulge it would suggest he might be afraid of what it would reveal.

It certainly would be interesting to see a real, scientific check of ALL of Ring’s predictions, but we won’t hold our breath that Ring will assist in this endeavour.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve Taylor
Date: 24 June 2010 11:54
Subject: SB - Silly Beliefs - Statistical analysis of Ken Ring's predictions
To: Silly Beliefs


Hi John,

Love the Silly Beliefs page on Ken Ring.

Do you have any data from Ken Ring's predictions in an electronic form? The more the better.

I've just discovered that NIWA provide free access to historical weather measurements. http://cliflo.niwa.co...­

I'm a statistician (and skeptic). So, if I can get my hands on a large amount of Ken's prediction data, I'd like to test it against actual measurements.
Robert Koch
user 11642209
Whangarei, NZ
Post #: 16
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Hi guys, I was really surprised about Ken Ring getting a place at TEDx as well. My speculation: his publisher probably jacked it up, to mitigate low interest in his 2011 almanac? Pure speculation. :P Maybe it's not very difficult to get a spot at a TEDx?

I watched his talk online via live streaming. Was unimpressed by his talk, I expected him to atleast show some charisma. Instead he made, vague, weak arguments and went off-topic frequently. He cracked some jokes, the audience laughed. Did some magic tricks, not sure what the point was there? Maybe to impress people, I don't know?

His main argument seemed to be that weather forecasters aren't right 100% of the time. He also pointed out he predicted the christchurch earthquake. At one point someone shouted at him from the audience. Couldn't make out what the person said though.

I really enjoyed the other talks during the day. Ken Ring was really out of place there. The other presenters talked about their efforts to make the world a better place. OneBeep were there, group of Auckland Uni students who developed a system to allow people in under-developed countries to share data over radio transmission. StarJam was there, they help people with disabilities to reach their potential and go way beyond.

So Ken was totally out of place there, main reason him being there was probably self-promotion. Anyway his talk as well as all the others will be made available online soon on www.tedxauckland.co.nz

Wondering how you'd do a statistical analysis: if he allows himself to be out by a day? If he forecasts; Rain Monday, sun Tuesday, cloud Wednesday, then he's saying: Tuesday could be: cloudy or sunny or raining. How would you compare that to NIWA data? I think it would be really interesting to do. You could even have a third totally random dataset... see how that compares. And make the 3 datasets blinded. Only problem I see is having to buy his books and having to enter all that data. Would you need his publishers permission to study his data? Copyright?

Sorry guys, if my grammar or spelling is out... typed this on my iPhone.
Steve Taylor
user 10406695
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 4
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There are statistical techniques to see whether the agreement is better than might be expected by random chance alone, and if so by how much. Blinding and a totally random fake data set are not necessary.

The information of his predictions has been published, so I don't see any copyright/licensing problem (unless the book contains a license statement specifically excluding analysis of the data). I wouldn't be publishing copies of his data, just derived summary statistics and the results of statistical tests. Objecting to that would look really bad for him!

I would buy myself an almanac but I don't want to give him a sale! If anyone has an old one lying around, let me know? Data entry isn't a problem - a couple hours' work and I think I'd have enough data for sufficiently powerful statistical tests.

It would also be nice to compare with MetService predictions (although those are continuously revised as more information arrives and the predicted time draws nearer).
Robert Koch
user 11642209
Whangarei, NZ
Post #: 17
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Just had a look... Whangarei Public Library has Ken's Almanacs for 2001, 2009 and 2010... but get this? ...in the reference section. :} They also have books by Sylvia Browne. To be fair our library has both of Phil Plait's books. :)

I'm pretty sure this would prohibit using the data in his books: "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic,... ...without prior consent of the publisher."
Robert Koch
user 11642209
Whangarei, NZ
Post #: 18
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Ok, I'm at Whangarei Public Library... Looking at his 2010 Almanac... The copyright disclaimer is a bit different:

"This book is copyright. Except for the purposes of fair reviewing no part of this publication may be repro... Yadayada..." if you stated your analysis was intended as a fair review (which it would be anyway) would that allow you to use his data?

In his disclaimer he states an accuracy of 85-91%
Craig Shearer
user 10409489
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 24
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I wonder whether we could get somebody to talk to us about the law in NZ regarding libel laws and how it compares to other countries, such as Britain. I'm completely in the dark, and would seem relevant if we would like to publicly investigate and potentially criticize people such as Ken Ring.

Anybody know anyone who could do this?
Steve Taylor
user 10406695
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 5
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One of the NZARH members knows about law things - I'll ask there.
vIQleS
vIQleS
Auckland, NZ
Post #: 102
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Aha - found it:

http://www.limestoneh...­
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