Today is the one year anniversary of boobquake, an accidental internet meme that I created at this blog. I’m not going to retell the story since it already has a Wikipedia article, which is also evidence of how viral it went (that, and being mentioned on the Colbert Report).
I’ve heard the question hundreds of times by now. “Is there going be Boobquake 2?” This is almost always followed by a quip about “increasing sample size,” with the person grinning about how clever they think they are for thinking that one up. While I’ve answered the question hundreds of times by now, let me answer it one last time to make it crystal clear:
I’m tempted to leave it at that, but I’ll take the moment to explain why the streets are not being flooded with immodestly dressed women today (at least, not more than usual).
1. The hypothesis is no longer testable.
Sedighi, an Iranian cleric, originally claimed that immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes. The whole purpose of boobquake was to be a humorous lesson in skepticism – that when someone makes claims, we should test them. But Sedighi clarified his statement a month later:
“Some ask why (more) earthquakes and storms don’t occur in the Western world, which suffers from the slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity and has plunged up to the neck” in immorality, he said.
“Who says they don’t occur? Storms take place in the U.S. and other parts of the world. We don’t say committing sin is the entire reason but it’s one of the reasons,” he said.
But, he said, “sometimes, God tests a nation. … (God says) if believers sin, We slap them because We love them and give them calamity in order to stop their bad deeds.”
“And those who have provoked God’s wrath, He allows them (to commit sins) so that they go to the bottom of hell,” Sedighi said.
So basically, sinning doesn’t actually correlate precisely with natural disasters, and God will hold off on striking sinful nations so he can send even more people to hell. There’s no longer any sort of cause and effect – God just willy nilly kills people. His claim is now unfalsifiable. Increasing the “sample size” would not matter.
2. There are plenty of other unskeptical things to poke fun at.
Sedighi isn’t the only person on the planet to make ludicrous claims. Why obsess over a stupid comment someone made a year ago, instead of keeping an eye out for new ridiculous superstitions? People are saying crazy stuff every day. So much more can be accomplished.
Not to mention, I think a lot of people liked boobquake because it happened to be poking fun at a Middle Eastern Muslim. White people and/or Christians have just as wacky of beliefs, and I don’t want this turning into something fueled by Islamophobia.
3. The joke is funny once.
Seriously, don’t beat a dead horse.
4. I don’t want to be forever just known as “boobquake girl.”
It’s sure to follow me around a bit – and that’s fine, it certainly was a cool experience. But I have so many more accomplishments. I’m pursuing my PhD in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. I have published research papers, and more are sure to come. I’m speaking at dozens of groups and conferences across the country about atheism. I hope to write a book some day soon, which will hopefully be the first of many.
I’m not just a boob joke.
So please, I know you think you’re being witty when you ask me what I was wearing when Recent Earthquake X struck Location Z…but give it a rest. We have other skeptical battles to fight. Let’s not all turn into one trick ponies.