Will a Planetary Alignment Cause a 9.8 Earthquake Tomorrow?

By Matt Novak on at

An earth-shattering 9.8 earthquake is coming this week! At least according to your weird uncle’s Facebook page. The Big One is supposed to hit this Thursday, May 28th, thanks to a planetary alignment predicted by Nostradamus and some random guy in the Netherlands. Except that it’s all bullshit.

The video below already has over half a million views, and if I dare make a prediction of my own, it will get plenty more between now and Thursday. The video was produced by Ditrianum Media, which appears to be a lone guy in the Netherlands named Frank who’s fascinated with 9/11 conspiracy theories and believes that a spirit of some sort is talking with him.

The narrator of the video explains his revelation:

The 12th of August, 2013, I received an important message. Well, for me it felt important. I explained that I felt that it came directly from Spirit. And this message, what it told me, what I was being told, is that there would be a very very large earthquake or some kind of major event with very much energy release. And at the time the message was that it would be on the west coast of North America and that it would be comparable to a 9.8 magnitude earthquake.

The narrator goes on to explain that a planetary alignment is going to be the cause of this divinely predicted event. The only problem, aside from the fact that you shouldn’t believe random shit you find on YouTube? Planetary alignments can’t cause earthquakes. They simply can’t. If you need someone to do the math for you, Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy blog has gone ahead and worked it out.

But no matter how many times it’s debunked, we’re going to keep hearing from this Frank guy. In fact, Frank released a new video today. He points to some recent large earthquakes in the Solomon Islands and Tonga as evidence that something is indeed happening. He pulls up a graphic of the solar system and insists that an alignment between Earth, Mars and Mercury is to blame.

The problem with pointing to big earthquakes as a sign of things to come is that decent sized earthquakes are happening all the time. If you don’t believe me, there are earthquakebots on Twitter you can follow. Large earthquakes are surprisingly common. Of course, it will be interesting to see what kind of video Frank releases this coming weekend when the Big One doesn’t hit.

This isn’t the first time that people have put forth the idea that a planetary alignment will cause devastating earthquakes. The 1974 book The Jupiter Effect, by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann, warned that just such a thing was going to happen in 1982. And you can guess how that prediction panned out.

Now, you may be asking yourself if this YouTube video and its sloppy theories might have anything to do with a major motion picture being released on Friday. And frankly, we don’t know. But if this really is just a viral marketing campaign for San Andreas (out this Friday) then I’d have to say it’s not terribly bright. If I thought a major earthquake was going to hit soon the last place I’d want to be hanging out is a crowded cinema.

The Big One is definitely coming. It’s inevitable. But if anybody tells you they know precisely when it will happen, you’re going to want to take that with a boulder-sized grain of salt.

This post originally appeared on Factually, a Gizmodo blog for setting the record straight