Apr 26 2011

Is there going to be Boobquake 2?

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.


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  1. 1

    So what you’re saying is that it’s unlikely we can get NSF funding for the Barebottom Volcanic Eruption Experiment?

  2. 2
    Daniel Schealler

    Reason 3 was my default assumption.How do people not see that?

  3. 3

    Hey Jen, don’t know if anybody said this yet, but thanks. Really. Thanks. Take care of yourself and have a good life.

  4. 4

    I predicted there wouldn’t be a Boobquake 2 and I was right. Now to get the Million Dollar Prize. ;)Seriously, I appreciate your blog, and if anyone wants to do something like Boobquake, they can organize their own event. You don’t have to do everything. Good luck with your studies. :)

  5. 5

    If the Internet is good at anything, it’s beating a joke to death, and everything within ten miles of it.

  6. 6

    Reason #4 is my favorite. You are totally badass. I’m excited to read your books when you get around to writing them!

  7. 7

    What 29 daily said. But we’ll keep an eye out for you, with high expectations.

  8. 8
    Easily Enthused

    Jen, don’t you realize that if you don’t have a Boobquake 2 then FOX news will be FORCED to use old footage of your cleavage from here on out? C’mon, you lost all that weight, why not give FOX some fresh footage? :P/trolling

  9. 9

    Good reasons, all. If people want to expose their own erogenous zones, super! But to expect you to do it again, just because you did it once, is moving toward the other end of the sexist spectrum.

  10. 10

    We most assuredly recognize your multiple talents, Jen, we do. However, a substantial number of us are guys. Ergo, any reference to boobs has an immediate response in our medulla (and elsewhere); it’s hardwired. Some may consider it infantile or shallow, but truly it is a gallant reflex; a compliment, as it were. Please have patience with us, let us have our yuck, and then you may move on to more cerebral topics.

  11. 11

    We most assuredly recognize your multiple talents, Jen, we do. However, a substantial number of us are guys. Ergo, any reference to boobs has an immediate response in our medulla (and elsewhere); it’s hardwired. Some may consider it infantile or shallow, but truly it is a gallant reflex; a compliment, as it were. Please have patience with us, let us have our yuck, and then you may move on to more cerebral topics.

  12. 12
    Cory Albrecht

    Did you forget that people are obsessed with sex?I never wondered whether there would be a Boobquake v2.0. Honestly it never even entered my mind that it was one year ago, much less wondering if it would happen again.It went viral, introduced her to all of us, and now we can all put such pressure on Jen to continue to come up with such intelligent and insight posts as we’ve become used to. :-)

  13. 13

    Anyway, the tsunami proved that it’s illegitamate preganancy that causes the earth to break its water.

  14. 14
    Daniel Schealler

    O_oDeep insight, there.Because I’m sure Jen doesn’t already understand that men like to think about boobs. Riiiight.But I’m not all negative – I have positive suggestions too.How about we manly menfolk decide to take responsibility for our own libidos and tailor how we express them based on what is appropriate given the context of the situation we find ourselves in, hmm?

  15. 15
    Daniel Schealler

    “Did you forget that people are obsessed with sex?”O_oErr… No. No I didn’t.And so… ?Confused Daniel is confused.

  16. 16
    Andrew Hall

    I totally agree. It would be lame to do the same joke twice.

  17. 17
    Luke Edwards

    You made the right choice. The internet has an obnoxiously long memory and always remembers the trees instead of the forest anyway.

  18. 18
    mitzumi kare

    hmmm…how about buttquake but with men in really short shorts to prove that homosexuality isn’t making the earth go to hell? :)that aside, i rather love your blog, jen. ^^

  19. 19
    Ani Sharmin

    I totally agree. Boobquake was a good idea, but you have so many talents and accomplishments that can also be used to promote skepticism and science. (It’s also kind of sad that some people missed the point of the event in the first place.)Also, I’m looking forward now to reading the books you plan to write.

  20. 20
    Pär Larsson


  21. 21

    “We most assuredly recognize your multiple talents, Jen, we do. However, a substantial number of us are guys. Ergo, any reference to boobs has an immediate response in our medulla (and elsewhere); it’s hardwired. Some may consider it infantile or shallow, but truly it is a gallant reflex; a compliment, as it were. Please have patience with us, let us have our yuck, and then you may move on to more cerebral topics.”This is why it seemed like a clever and funny idea originally, but in practice turned out to be no better than a Girls Gone Wild video.

  22. 22

    Happy anniversary! XPI agree with all your reasons and I’m glad Boobquake was a one time thing. I think it will be remembered more that way anyway.

  23. 23

    “…just as wacky of beliefs?” And you publish papers?

  24. 24
    J. Mark

    Okay then…how about “pube” quake…..

  25. 25

    Indeed , don’t beat a dead horse is always good advice. Just keep up the good work on your blog, and I for one will be happy.

  26. 26

    Why anyone would expect another “Boobquake” is beyond me, but then I’d been reading your blog long before that happened, so it isn’t the first association for me as it appears to be for many other of your readers.The comments which motivated Boobquake are no longer as prominent and therefore it’d be silly to beat the dead horse (or anything else for that matter *wink*) when there are other instances of unskeptical thinking with which we could be concerned.

  27. 27

    FWIW I found your blog via other atheist blogs, not because of Boobquake.

  28. 28

    *totally disappointed*I don’t know why you don’t want to be the boobquake girl. It doesn’t make sense.

  29. 29

    What if someone wants to pay you for being the Boobquake Girl? How much money do they have to pay you to change your mind?

  30. 30

    Because everyone has perfect grammar all the time.

  31. 31
    Daniel Schealler


  32. 32
    Michael Brown

    Who’s up for Man-boobquake?…<crickets></crickets>

  33. 33

    #4 is very good and it must be said that I had already forgotten why I intially started reading you. So, at least for me, you succeeded at being something more, much more, than that. Congrats!

  34. 34

    What’s wrong with “Girls Gone Wild”? I keep hearing rumors, but it is like finding the end of the rainbow.

  35. 35

    From the UK:Have to admit I was boobquaked here – I found you via your Guardian piece. However, these days when I decide to visit it’s more a case of “Wonder what Jen’s up to?”The war on science education & free thought _in the western world_ is of primary interest and concern. Thanks for the BQ joke ridiculing superstition; now bigger and better things, eh?Success in your endevours.Olde British Geezer

  36. 36
    Gregory Marshall

    What I would like to see, is everyday be boobquake.

  37. 37

    I’ve only been following a few months, and found this blog via some other blogs I think. I had no idea you were linked to Boobquake until about two weeks ago. It definitely won’t be the only thing you are known for!

  38. 38
    Walt Yarbrough

    Well said.

  39. 39

    Actually, that’s as it should be. Boobquake was just too good of a gag to depend on being able to repeat it successfully.

  40. 40

    I don’t think our tectonic plates could handle that.

  41. 41
    HA Cautrell

    I arrived via a link from Skepchick I think. I stayed because I liked what you were saying and wanted to know more. After the initial dust up over Boobquake I didn’t think of it again. I get the feeling that those who continue to harass you about it, even if it’s only intended in jest, don’t realize just how tiring and frustrating such a thing can be. I can appreciate you wanting to be known for more than just that one event in your life. Keep moving forward, you certainly have my support.

  42. 42

    If someone only pays attention to your boobquake, they probably aren’t really interested in what you’re saying.

  43. 43

    Yeah, doing boobquake 2 wouldn’t work for all of the reasons you mentioned, however if we can get some other type of viral events going, that would be cool. Though it shouldn’t all be laid on your shoulders. There are other atheist bloggers out there who haven’t even had one viral event yet.

  44. 44

    But you have such nice cleavage? (puppy dawg eyes)

  45. 45
    Daniel Schealler

    There was a specific debacle with GGW fairly recently.One of the more recent developments was that some solid examples came out where the filmers very clearly were acting without permission of the girls in question.The example comes to mind where the producers published footage where one of the girls’ breasts were shown despite her direct request to the contrary.Greta has an article about it here:(NSFW) http://gretachristina.typepad….

  46. 46

    Test this test that why not test and see if a man’s Penis really does have a brain of its own people say men are always using their other head,( being perverted) yes it is meant to be a joke but its the same point being made.

  47. 47
    Anna Jobsis

    Nobody wants to be typecast. Thanks for being awesome!

  48. 48
    J. Mark

    Another idea…how ’bout “vaginal tsunami”…..I think this could catch on.

  49. 49

    Is it just me, or has Boobquake been completely overshadowed by http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl… anyway?Also a massively worthy cause in – and of – itself, of course.

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