Some locals and residents in Qatar have expressed panic and alarm due to false or misleading information about earthquake predictions that have spread on social media platforms.
Experts in Qatar have stepped in to calm nerves amid heightened global and local panic ignited after a Dutch seismologist issued a new warning that the world could experience yet another significant earthquake in the coming days.
Dutch seismologist, Frank Hoogerbeets soared to international fame and prominence after predicting the disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Syria last month. However, the seismologist has now caught the attention of global headlines after warning that a natural disaster is due to occur in March.
Hoogerbeets, who bases his forecasts on celestial body motions, warned that “the first week of March is going to be extremely critical” in a video he posted on YouTube on Monday.
However, the program director for Natural Hazard at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) and planetary scientist Dr. Essam Heggy told Doha News that these predictions are false and misleading.
“I can tell you with full confidence that what this gentleman from the Netherlands is doing has nothing to do with science,” said Heggy,
“You cannot predict earthquakes by an alignment of planets or predict earthquakes at this time by any method. We can only understand the magnitude of the earthquakes.”
He explained that while it is possible to understand where they occur, it is not possible to predict the time of their occurrence.
The Dutch scientist has made frequent warnings that were often in the locations and within the timeframes of active earthquakes. Heggy believes that the coincidence in itself does not mean that he is right.
In addition, for any type of predictions to be made, it needs modelling, it needs observations, and it needs “a network of observations.”
“We are talking about someone who has nothing of that,” he added.
To Heggy, it’s notable that Hoogerbeets made several predictions before that never have happened. “So the coincidence of making this happen is just a coincidence.”
“People like him have a voice here in the Middle East and are considered in a serious way unfortunately because we look to anything from the West as credible,” Heggy told Doha News.
He suggested that if similar statements or predictions were made by an Egyptian, Yemeni, or Libyan scientist, its unlikely that they’d get the same attention and credibility that were given to the Dutch scientist.
“It is this complex behaviour of believing anybody that is coming from Western places that has made this person only an attraction for places like the Middle East, where the lack of information, where the lack of studies, where the lack of science communication is very high.”