Tremble before Boobquake!

By Phil Plait | April 26, 2010 10:57 am
The actual cleavage
that causes earthquakes.

If you are a geek, a skeptic, or a man, then you’ve probably heard that today is Boobquake: a day for women around the world to show off their cleavage in an attempt to debunk a fundamentalist Iranian cleric who blames natural seismic events on women dressing immodestly.

In other words, all that shaking and jiggling in the ground is caused by… well, I don’t need to belabor the point.

To be clear, I happily endorse both of these things (the cleavage and the debunking). But I do have one niggling doubt. Bear with me here…

First, last week an Islamic cleric in Iran said that all the earthquakes occurring in that country are caused by women dressing "immodestly". Yes, this same screwed-up thinking that brought us the Taliban and the idea that burning, throwing acid upon, and beheading women is all their own fault for being, y’know, women, gives us this:

"Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes… What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi [the cleric] asked during a prayer sermon Friday. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes."

I got news for you, Sedighi: if I were God, I’d be throwing more earthquakes your way for the way you treat women. In fact, I’d send a few thousand mini ones that open the Earth and just swallow up the twinkie clerics who say such profoundly horrid things.

Serious note: I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: not all cultures are created equal. Any culture that sweepingly and maniacally oppresses half their population is what I would call evil. Moral relativism be damned: that kind of crap is wrong, plain and simple.

Now, the response on the skeptical and science blogs was pretty good; mockery, for the most part, which is what this kind of insanity deserves (Maria at Skepchick, for example, took this opportunity to debunk myths about breasts). But Blag Hag, a female blogger, came up with an interesting idea: Boobquake. The idea is for women around the world to show off their assets today, Monday, April 26, in an attempt to debunk the cleric. When there is no earthquake today, it will show the cleric for what he is: a sexist jerk* mired in an ancient and ridiculous mode of thinking.

I like the idea of Boobquake for many reasons. It’s an excellent display of physical mockery, which is a great way to raise awareness. It also resonates in American culture because we have so many people who are so twisted up about such things morally; I support poking them in the eye with this kind of thing as well. Also, I’m unapologetically a heterosexual man, so c’mon.

But I have a major reservation with this idea as well, and it has to do with the number of earthquakes around the world. Here is a table from the USGS giving the number of earthquakes per year listed by magnitude:


As you’d expect, there are very few huge quakes, and a lot of little ones. We expect to rack up maybe one quake more powerful than magnitude 8 in a year, but on average we get one in the magnitude 6 – 6.9 range every couple of days somewhere in the world, and one in the 5 – 5.9 range something like three to five times every day. That’s every few hours!

And there’s the weakness in the Boobquake plan. The idea of Boobquake is to debunk the cleric by saying that women can reveal their boobs and not start a seismic event (ignoring perhaps the tremors caused by geek guys habitually running to their computers every few minutes and checking for updates). But without defining the time period, the earthquake size, and the region in advance, this can actually reinforce the cleric’s claims! Given the huge tracts of land involved, no matter when women of the world unveil their decolletage, there is bound to be a magnitude 5 quake within an hour or so of the event, and a mag 6 quake within a day.

We also know that supernatural thinking makes people see correlations where none exist, and to also retroactively assign credit after an event to something that happened before it. They cling desperately to such measures like a drowning man to a life preserver. And when the parameters (like time and size) aren’t defined in advance, that makes uncritical thinking easier. If there is even a modest earthquake today, then that cleric can declare victory. If there’s a big quake, then it’s more like sending that drowning man a motorboat!

Still and all, this is perhaps a minor complaint given the positive nature of the cause itself. I really like the idea of web-based activism, especially when it comes to rallying a lot of people to make a clear statement… and in this case, the more people who see that cleric for the fool he is, the better.

So I stand with my XX-oriented friends against the neolithic thinking of gender-oppressing religions. As Ben Franklin would say were he here today:

We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang lifted and separated.

*You didn’t seriously think I’d call him a boob, did you?


Comments (84)

  1. fredR

    if showing cleavage causes earthquakes, then what causes similar quakes on other planets? Is God punishing non-existent Martians for us showing cleavage? Or are they showing their Martian cleavage equivalent?

  2. *gasp!* Geoporn above the fold!

  3. Heh. “Huge tracts of land”

  4. Epimetheus

    I also agree with the lady on skepchick who argued that we should also have Matt Smith (a.k.a. the 11th doctor) continue to strip down to determine whether or not male nudity causes volcanoes.

    It’s only fair, guys.

  5. Quatguy

    Good one Phil, I am sure Jen is crossing her fingers that there are no big earthquakes in North America or Europe today. However, a good, mid-sized shaker (non destructive of course so hopefully no-one is hurt) in Iran could have some interesting political and religious consequences.

  6. Thank you for the post.
    Apart from the central argument, it is interesting to see how the number of quakes in 2010 is not at all unusual, but more or less in trend, debunking the fact that the earth is going through a period of high activity. A classic case of media-induced over-representation.

  7. There was already an earthquake off the coast of Taiwan today. So, point proven.

  8. Merle

    Obviously, we must test this scientifically – Boobquakes on perhaps an annual basis, each time checking the number of quakes compared with the norm for this time of year. Boobquake…for SCIENCE!

  9. It’s simple enough, the real point of all this is to say “Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi is a fear-mongering mental midge”.

  10. Mr Ed

    Leave $10 billion dollars in unmarked bills at the bus station and we put on turtle necks and no one gets hurt.

  11. There were 8008 4.0-4.9 magnitude earthquakes in 2000. Seriously, 8008.

    The jokes write themselves.

    I’m happy I’m not the only one pointing out that he said “in Iran”.

  12. Rory Kent

    Am I the only person who chuckled at the number of 4.0-4.9 mag earthquakes in 2000? It seems oddly appropriate.

  13. Azurite

    “huge tracts of land” “motorboat”
    Subtle! Very subtle!

  14. She’s specifically said she’s well aware of earthquake statistics and that she plans to determine if, on average, there were MORE earthquakes today.

  15. RMcbride

    I love the idea of many ladies doing this especially in the cause of skepticism. But don’t we already have many years of reliable test data? It’s called mardi-gras. All we have to do is compare sizemic activity centered on New Orleans during this event.

  16. Hank Fox

    “We expect to rack up maybe one quake more powerful than magnitude 8 in a year …”

    Ah, heh-heh. He said “rack.”

    (Sorry. Had to be said.)

  17. Hank Fox

    Of course, if there WAS a big quake today, but it killed the cleric who made this statement, what would Islamics conclude then?

  18. Why am I suddenly reminded of the jiggling boobs scene from ‘Airplane’?

  19. XXL

    Nobody is considering this a serious scientific experiment. It started out as a joke. Anyone educated in the scientific method understands that this experiment would have to be repeated several times and averaged to see if there is a statistically significant increase in tremors. Only scientifically illiterate fools will take the Taiwan quake, or any other, as confirmation of Sedighi’s claims. But what difference does it make? Would these people have been swayed by discomfirmatory evidence in the first place?

    The people who doubt Sedighi’s claim will see any positive results as anecdotal, and will not change their minds. The people who accept Sedighi’s claim will ignore any negative results, and will not change their minds. Fears that this little viral episode will change anything are entirely unfounded.

  20. JRQ

    Clearly, we need a larger timeframe. I vote we designate May-July this year as the “Boobquake quarter”, and randomize the time window of this quarter each year over the next 20 years.

  21. JoeSmithCA

    Of course you know if there is an increase in earthquakes–we’ll need to do tests with less and more clothing. I think Boobquake should be an international holiday.

  22. Tim G

    Wow, those magnitude 4.0-4.9 quakes clearly aren’t Poisson distributed. I imagine clusters of them are tied to greater earthquakes.

    As far as Boobquake goes, we need more data points so I endorse the idea of Boobquake being an annual event.

  23. Martha

    Along the same line there is going to be a “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

  24. Aline

    Oh, hell, I say we just do it the old fashioned way by all jumping up and down at the same time.

  25. I also lend my support to this event in whatever way I can. 😛

  26. XMark

    Ahaha, 8008 earthquakes of 4.0 to 4.9 magnitude in 2000. Reminds me of elementary school calculator jokes :)

  27. Pocket Nerd

    I’d be fascinated if there were a truly major earthquake today; it would mean we should repeat the event, seeking to demonstrate correlation, causation, and mechanism. As scientists, it would give us an excuse, uh, I mean, an obligation to spend hours staring intently at every lovely sway, bounce, and jiggle.

    And if we can demonstrate that bouncy bared boobies can seismic disturbances, our next step will naturally be to attempt to control it. Think of the applications in geology, agriculture, construction… even national defense! Weaponized Breast Physics could potentially deliver targeted nuclear-strength strikes, evading all existing ICBM defenses, and with greatly reduced environment impact. Weapons of Mass Titillation could redefine the battlefields of the 21st century…

  28. OtherRob

    This is all just a little bit too titillating for my taste. (I can’t believe I’m the first one to make that joke…)

  29. Jon

    Annual? We need lots of data points if we want to prove (or disprove) this conclusively. This should be a daily event. In fact, I suggest that each lady should keep a personal journal and record just how immodestly they dressed and what the USGS earthquake center reports for that day’s rumbling.

    You would have to rate the level of your immodesty each day and compare that to the Earth’s trembling.
    Go out naked = 10
    Dress like hooker = 9
    Dress in a winter parka, with a ski mask, gloves and moon boots = 1 (of course you’ll have to wear it all day to make sure)

    Come on ladies, it is for science.

  30. Don Wiseman

    Check the daily earquakes on the net and and highway has several a day. And we know how they dress, don’t we.

  31. kristy

    I’m doing my part by being topless at home, today, wondering about combining Danielle Steel with solid Seismic data.

    So, far, LQQKING around, drinking with Iranian Clerics, from Juggs of wine in D-sized cups, there seems to be no KNEADING to plead for Islamic Life Savors to save them as my house Jiggled and bounced, quaking with desire, while droplets of perspiration slid along CURVES of indecency, POKING holes and debunking the mid-east religious theory with mere pencil eraser sized thoughts of scientic hoohah.

    I couldn’t figure out how to make the Clerics sexy, ya know ?

  32. Plutonium being from Pluto

    it bears repeating: not all cultures are created equal. Any culture that sweepingly and maniacally oppresses half their population is what I would call evil. Moral relativism be damned: that kind of crap is wrong, plain and simple.

    YES!!! :-)

    That is so durn true. 100% spot on there BA.

    Boobquake -if only it worked and we could target it – y’know like on Iran! 😉

    @1. fredR Says:

    if showing cleavage causes earthquakes, then what causes similar quakes on other planets?

    Exactly! Just imagine how many nude, immodest women must live on Io to account for its geological activity! 😉

    Or Triton with its geysers and could Enceladus’es “tiger stripes” be tigress stripes instead?

    There are moonquakes we know we caused by dropping Saturn V third stages & others that occur naturally.

    But please don’t let the knowledge that the Mullah is mad (they always are)
    stand in the way of Boobquake day experimentaly confirming it – every year! 8)

    I love this idea – and the “Draw a cartoon of Mohammad day” one too.

    No surrender to Islamist extremism folks & no appeasement of their ridiculous sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, suicide-homicide bomber worshipping politico-cultural beliefs either I say. Not ever.

  33. Brian Davis

    XXL: it raises awareness. It started as a joke, and now it raises awareness – of the idiocy of some folks, and perhaps at least for a few, the difference between anecdote and statistical sample. Analysis of the statistics, for those who want to do it, should also be a great educational moment.

    Of course it won’t change a lot of opinions – but if it will wake up some more people the the very badly messed up way *many of us* establish our opinions, then I’ve got to say I’m for it.

    For my part, I’m wearing a thong with my shirt off while performing retrospective cluster analysis on Mardi-Gras (thanks RMcbride).

  34. Jerad

    That’s the joy of maths, we can see if there are significantly more earthquakes today using statistics.

  35. mike burkhart

    This is hardly surpriseing given how weomen are treated in Iran but persionaly I think this will just inflame the situration and this cleric and others will use it as propaganda against the west . By saying it an example of western decadance . And declare it an insult to Islam and offer a reward for the deaths of the particapants. Note I have nothing agaist Islam athro I’m catholic I respect all belefs or nonbelefes but I have a problem with extremism in my religon and others the world needs less extremists and more moderates. Also I don’t think that all Muslams are terorists . And come on no one could whant a big earthquake to strake anywhere that would kill many people have we forgotin about Haiti?

  36. Plutonium being from Pluto

    PS. Respect is earnt and awarded when it is shown it is deserved. Customs and ideas, even “religious” memes and politics that don’t deserve respect shouldn’t be given undue deference for the sake of cultural relativism and Political Correctness. Which notions are themselves beliefs that have yet to earn any respect or credit with me (how does being PC ever really help? What benefit do we get from it?) & thus which themselves should never be respected or given sycophantic support by politically motivated minorities wishing to priviledge themselves over the mainstream community.

    @35. mike burkhart Says:

    I don’t think that all Muslams [sic] are terorists .

    No, but all too many of them *are* terrorists or at the very least support terrorism.

    There is something deeply wrong, deeply rotten, about a society or religion that thinks its okay to blow up and MURDER innocent civilians in the way Iraqi and Palestinian and other Muslim terrorists do.

    For instance : One survey found 75 % of Palestinians support terrorism and specifically suicide bombing. Plus the Palistinians got their chance for peace when isreal pulled out of Gaza and what did they do? They voted for Hamas and war. They fire rockets into Israel at civilan targets (unlike Israel which at least tries to minimise innocent casualties and regrets them when they happen vs Palestinians celberating tehdetahof innocent people eg. on 9-11.)but then paint Israel as the worst villain ever when it responds in self-defence. Israel’s only fault in the subsequent war that Hamas started was not being harsh enough. Not going on & finishing Hamas forever. Muslims all around the world support Al Quaida then they whinge that they come under undue suspicion. Well, geez, I wonder why! :roll:

    Islamism sucks. It stinks. Pure & simple. Just as certain other unmentionable “philosophies” like Socialism and Leninism and that one we can’t say for fear of violating “Godwins’ law” do.

  37. Thorne

    I thought Deepak Chopra caused earthquakes? (

    @ #23: “As far as Boobquake goes, we need more data points so I endorse the idea of Boobquake being an annual event.”
    Exactly. With only two data points per subject we’ll need lots of repeats to confirm the hypothesis.

    @ #28: “Weaponized Breast Physics could potentially deliver targeted nuclear-strength strikes, evading all existing ICBM defenses, and with greatly reduced environment impact. Weapons of Mass Titillation could redefine the battlefields of the 21st century…”
    You forget God’s terrible aim, though. Immodesty in New Orleans could result in earthquakes in New Zealand; immodesty in Rome could shake things up in Nome; immodesty in Tehran could result in mass murders of women all over the country.

  38. OMFSM. How did I miss the 8008 quakes? Drat.

  39. I don’t think that all Muslims are terrorists .

    No but all too many of them are or at least support terrorism.

    There is something deeply wrong, deeply rotten, about a society or religion that thinks its okay to blow up innocent civilians in the way Iraqi and Palestinian and other Muslim terrorist do.

    There were plenty of American Irish Catholics who supported the Provisional IRA back when they were blowing up policeman and innocent people, and a large portion the funding for their terrorist operations came from American Irish Catholic sources.

    That’s not to say support for terrorism should be excused or condoned, but it shows that it is less about religious beliefs and more about tribal loyalties and supporting others who you feel are fighting against an oppressor.

    Now that the American troops are mostly out of the way in Iraq, the vast majority of suicide bombings there are targeting other Muslims. Again, for tribal and sectarian reasons — and the fight for dominion over the country once the dust finally settles. The Palestinians support terrorism for the exactly the same reason why many American Catholics supported the IRA — they see them as freedom fighters, not terrorists, and believe that their victims are complicit in their oppression and thus deserve what’s coming to them.

    If Israel nuked Iran tomorrow, I have little doubt millions of conservative American Christians would be quietly satisfied, if they weren”t cheering from the rooftops. The deaths of millions of innocent civilians, at best, would be regretted a necessary evil.

  40. Neon Sequitur

    I particularly like the phrase ‘modest earthquake.’ Brilliant.

  41. Rick Fairbourne

    Just to prove the point made here. A 6.5 in Tiawan. Phil is a prophet.

  42. John Paradox

    Gives a whole new meaning to the cliche “did the earth move for you?”


  43. Boobquake bothers me because it is an empty protest and because it devalues the idea of being sexy just because you want to be sexy.

    I don’t need science, skepticism, or peer approval to enjoy showing my breasts.

    I will do it when I want.


  44. Teshi

    I have the same reservations. Any earthquake today, tomorrow, in the next month or YEAR can be blamed, using magical thinking, on today’s little event. Other magical thinkers who will accept anything this cleric says, however incorrect or crazy, will say, “well look what happened!”

  45. Claudia

    We got a 4.6 one in Lima, Peru a little after noon – thankfully not excesive immodesty around here

  46. G Williams

    “not all cultures are created equal. Any culture that sweepingly and maniacally oppresses half their population is what I would call evil. Moral relativism be damned: that kind of crap is wrong, plain and simple.”

    You have your customs, and we have yours. Build your pyre, and we shall build our gallows here beside it.

  47. There are Earthquakes on the Moon, so there must be big boobed Aliens on the Moon?

  48. ccpetersen

    Thank you for writing this Phil.

    For those who are slamming Islam for this cleric’s misguided understanding of the basic laws of geophysics, I’d like to point out that there are plenty of religionists of many types out there actively hating others, killing, maiming, and what-not in the name of their magical sky daddies. It’s not limited to the whackadoos of the Middle East — and to be fair, not all Islamic believers are into the whole maim and kill thing. There are whackadoos in the Christian “faith” who think it’s just fine and dandy to firebomb doctors’ offices, wishing death on atheists, and ship hordes of their believers around to preach hate in the name of Jesus. No one religion has a stranglehold on blind stupidity, it would appear.

    Back to Boobquake — I salute the effort. The Good Imam needs some ridicule of his shortcomings… and I participated today by hauling out some cleavage-inducing clothing; alas, it’s so cold where I live that I had to put a turtleneck on over it, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

  49. Surprised

    A few points illustrating why you are as much of an idiot as this cleric.

    1. “Any culture that sweepingly and maniacally oppresses half their population is what I would call evil.”

    What about a culture that sexually objectifies half their population?

    2. “Yes, this same screwed-up thinking that brought us the Taliban…”

    There is no Taliban in Iran. Iran is a Shi’ite Muslim country. The Taliban is a Sunni Muslim organization. It’s like blaming the Catholic church for evangelism. This is a completely different type of screwed-up thinking, thank you very much.

    I could go on, but I’m bored. In conclusion, you are, as you say, “a sexist jerk* mired in an ancient and ridiculous mode of thinking,” ie, you are woman; show us tits.

  50. Surprised (#50): despite you’re breaking my commenting policy by name calling, I’ll answer your questions:

    1) I never said anything about objectifying women, and you’re changing the subject. Still, I don’t think that’s necessarily evil in the same sense as I meant in the article. However, if you want to seriously compare that to throwing acid and beheading women, be my guest. But I for one will not take you seriously if you do.

    2) I didn’t say the Taliban came from Iran, I said it was the same kind of thinking. And it is; fundamentalist religion does tend to mess with people’s ability to think rationally and critically.

    If you actually read what I wrote, and not read into it what *you’re* thinking, why, you might actually understand what I was saying. In general, it’s good not to infer what wasn’t implied.

  51. Hitchens Fan

    Long Live Democratic Seismology

    Chile survived its huge earthquake relatively well. Iran would be a different story.

    By Christopher Hitchens

    Posted Monday, March 1, 2010, at 10:32 AM ET

    … “In Tehran, Iran’s capital, Dr. Bilham has calculated that one million people could die in a predicted quake similar in intensity to the one in Haiti.” (Italics added.) …

    … And what would happen to the secret nuclear facilities, both under the ground and above it? … what would the survivors think when they looked around the (possibly irradiated) ruins …

    … it should become part of our humanitarianism and our public diplomacy to warn the Iranian people of the man-made reasons that the results of a natural calamity would be hideously multiplied in their case. This, together with the offer of immediate help in earthquake-proofing, enhanced from our experiences in California, is nothing less than a moral responsibility. …

  52. Surprised

    Implied? I’m using direct quotes. If you’re going to compare all Muslims to the Taliban, then have the courage to stand behind what you say.

    And using generalizations like that “kind of thinking” to label an entire culture you obviously know nothing about as “evil” is name-calling. So you’re the only one who’s allowed? Okay then, I’m sorry I hurt your little feelings. But there’s an entire nation of people who you just called evil who might call you a hypocrite.

    And you make your point by calling the entire religion of Islam a “fundamentalist religion”? There are millions of Muslims in the world, most of whom consider terrorism an abomination, and to label them all fundamentalists is bigotry.

  53. johno

    There is a slight peak in the strength of earthquakes during the full and new moon due to the extra stresses caused by the increased tidal forces. Considering that we’re just a day away from a full moon, is this going to be factored into the boobquake statistical analysis?


  54. Daniel J. Andrews

    If boobquake is meant to debunk this cleric, it fails miserably. The cleric didn’t specify when the earthquake would happen. There are ample examples in the Old Testament and in the Qu’ran where judgment was postponed sometimes for decades, giving the people a chance to repent. When they didn’t, then judgment was brought down.

    This means any big devastating earthquake that hits in the next year to 10o years could be blamed on this boobquake day. Look at the extreme fundies here who blamed Haiti’s earthquake on something that they say the populace’s forefathers did long ago.

    If the cleric and supporters even hear about boobquake day, all it does is confirm their opinions that people are indeed blinded and are spiritually ignorant infants. After all only someone completely ignorant would make such a howler as to think an immediate judgment from God/Allah will occur in response to boobquake day.

    On the other hand, if boobquake day is just to have some fun, then it’s probably a great success. I’d like to have worn skimpy clothing today but it was too wet, cold, windy at the ocean today–that and that pesky Y-chromosome negates my participation.

  55. Chris A.

    Wow, you have an impressive talent for superimposing preconceptions of what you think Phil is saying onto what he actually is (and isn’t) saying, then condemning him for it. Buzz off, troll.

  56. Surprised (#53): Using direct quotes is meaningless if you don’t understand them.

    I never said the entire country, or its people, are evil. I said that a culture that oppresses half its population — that is, women — is evil. That culture is being enforced by a small(ish) group of men in a theocracy. See the difference? Or is this too subtle?

    Also, you are once again dead wrong about somethign else I said: I never compared all Muslims to the Taliban. I compared fundamentalist (yes, I know it’s the wrong word but the meaning has broadened) religious thinking to the Taliban. Let me make this easy for you: it’s like when I say creationists are wrong I am not condemning all of Christianity. See the difference? Or is this too subtle?

    You assume I know nothing of the culture, and that’s a bad assumption. But it doesn’t matter. If a culture takes its women and won’t teach them, won’t let them vote, won’t give them freedom, then I don’t need to know a lot more about it to know it’s wrong.

    And where did I say all of Islam is fundamentalism? Again, I was pointing out specifically what this cleric said, not all of Islam.

    You really need to step back from this and evaluate your own feelings about this topic, since you are clearly injecting quite a bit of meaning into what I wrote that is simply not there.

  57. QuietDesperation

    What about a culture that sexually objectifies half their population?

    You’re right. We should turn it around. I’ll pose in skimpy clothing and get paid what I currently make in a month of overtime for it. I’m willing to do my part to really walk a mile in the shoes in others. No high heels, though. I did that on a bet once and nearly broke an ankle. Won the bet, though. :)

    Now, time to go and get that Mohammad tattoo…

  58. I say this notion that woman’s cleavage causes earthquakes is highly sexist. After all, maybe a guy wants to cause a tremor or two. We try going shirtless but that doesn’t even cause a 1 on the Ricter Scale. (Depending on the man, however, it might make people run screaming.) Why must women have all the fun?

  59. MadScientist

    @Quatguy #6: Having stared at seismograms for work for almost 3 years, I can tell you that Iran (and Turkey) gets a lot of earthquakes. A day without a single measurable earthquake within Iran would be a rare day indeed.

  60. Randy A.

    I hope some Iranians (or people from nearby cultures) are reading this, and can answer a question that I’ve had for a long time: why do men from middle eastern cultures fear women so much?

    The BA quotes this cleric as saying that women “lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society…” As a man who grew up in the sixties and seventies, I can say that immodestly dressed women didn’t lead me astray as a young man, and didn’t corrupt my chastity nearly as much as I would have liked. And as a married man who works at a college surrounded by “immodestly dressed” young women, I’m not tempted with adultery (or at least, not enough to actually adulterate).

    So what makes middle eastern men such wusses? Why do they wet themselves if they see a female figure? Why does even thinking about “women who do not dress modestly” make them run screaming “the sky is falling!” or “the earthquake is coming!” or some other ridiculous thing?

  61. Craig

    #37 @Plutonium, who wrote in part:

    …There is something deeply wrong, deeply rotten, about a society or religion that thinks its okay to blow up and MURDER innocent civilians in the way Iraqi and Palestinian and other Muslim terrorists do.

    Let’s not also forget Timothy McVey’s terrorism in Oklahoma City. I seem to recall that he was NOT affiliated with Islam, Iran, Palestine, Iraq or any other Muslim-centric society. Terrorism is not exclusive to Muslims; history is rife with Christian terrorism. You need to take off the filtred glasses and see the world with open eyes. I think it’s rather dark where your head seems to be at the moment.

  62. Jeremy

    I would like to echo those calling for a full scientific study of the correlation between female dress and seismic events. However, I think that these people have made a serious error in calling for Boobquake to be an annual event. One day per year is not nearly enough data to establish statistical significance, let alone to establish any spatial/temporal correlations. I would suggest systematically varying the timing and location of the skimpily dressed women. Something along the lines of:
    Day 1: Scantily clad women in Northern California, Texas, and Michigan
    Day 2: Scantily clad women in Virgina, New England, and Northern California
    Day 3: Scantily clad women in Southern California, Northern California, and Canada
    Day 4: Scantily clad women in Northern California, France, and New York

  63. Cory

    Phil, ol’ boy, it really hurts when you try to moralize this much. Pointless pontification, the wishing of death and cries of “evil!” are exactly what these very clerics do. Wouldn’t hurt you to take a better tack, as being rational and calm (as you generally do) will serve everyone better.

  64. Bruce

    Earthquakes are caused by immodestly-dressed women? Come on, everyone knows they’re caused by global warming! And I bet Phil Jones is doing a study on how global warming causes women to wear miniskirts.

  65. Bee

    Well, just check whether there’s more Earthquakes in the Northern Hemisphere when it’s summer there, and in the Southern Hemisphere when it’s Summer there. There is clearly a correlation between dressing and the seasons, so there you go.

  66. csrster

    The obvious difference between the sexual objectification of women in western culture and the oppression of women in all Islamic states (go on, name an exception) is that in the west one can complain about sexual objectification, resist it, campaign against it, or mock it without fear of being arrested for refusing to respect the Word of Ayatollah Hefner and Mullah Flynt.

  67. Garscow

    I disagree.

    More to the point, I disagree that if there was a strong correlation with this one organized event called Boobquake to a major earthquake, that it would encourage the oppression of women in Iran or elsewhere. Or make people believe a crack-pot.

    Take your worst case scenario; In the afternoon there’s a very strong earthquake in the order of 7.8 magnitude in a populated part of California (note, this would be a tragedy, but I’m meaning directly in relation to this issue, not the obvious resulting humanitarian one). It would undoubtedly lead to a major story with this as a relatively small side bar on every news network in the world. The sentence “Did the Boobquake cause this tragedy?” might even be repeated a few times. This would greatly raise awareness of the issue, and how it started, beyond the unexpected heights it has already reached.

    On the face of it, the idea is completely ludicrous, even to those uninformed on the specifics of geophysics. The idea of Boobquake seems to have sprung and gained popularity partly because of this (also, boobs). It’s a safe way of poking fun at a country and it’s leadership.

    From this hypothetical event even more awareness of the issue, and the movement would be raised than would have otherwise. Of course in Iran in particular, the cleric in question would have more fuel for the fire. But if he hadn’t been vindicated, the leadership would have quite easily had someone step up and make some other ridiculous claim to support the status quo.

    My worst case scenario would be pretty much what’s happened so far today. Some notable earthquakes, within the statistical average for a typical day. Noticeable to those paying attention to the issue but otherwise pretty darned boring.

  68. The Ill Tempered Klavier

    Now it’s been about five years since my left one went to the pathology lab (along with several other irrelevant in this context chunks of my carcass by the time Doc Hack’em was done cuttin’) so I wonder if it would be most effective to swing my single under his nose, flash the scar tissue on the other side, or just let it all hang out, including the chunk of silicon rubber I usually hang on the left because it’s sorta like um er taboo to appear asymmetrical in public.

    As to things said by some other posters: No one here claimed that Muslims had a monopoly on preaching terrorism from the pulpit or any other form of religious wing nuttery. Woe unto those who do evil in the name of the Lord. It’s just that Muslim wing nuts are the thorn that’s pricking most deeply at the moment. Evil from the pulpit is just as evil regardless of whether the wing nut seeking to sanctify his drivel with “Thus sayeth the Lord” is referring to Allah, Jehovah, Yahveh, Brahma, Rama, Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Amaterasu, Woden, Freya, Thor, Isis, Asherah, Mithras, or any others you care to name. Many Muslim wing nut clerics preach a number of evil things and claim they are essential to Islam. Far too many who ought to know better seem to agree with them. These thing are equally evil no matter who says them. Phil’s reference to “that kind of thinking” included them all.

  69. Shayan

    I live in iran. Boobquake is the opinion of stupid leaders of iran not the people…

  70. Nobody seems to be getting the true heart of the evile that really rankles in this situation.
    This is not just cleric sentiment gone awry, this isn’t even a religious issue.
    Listen, my 13yo daughter goes to school one day in jeans with holes above the knees with tights under them(a couple of one inch holes). Ok fine. I get a call about 11 am about her cloths. Apparently some boys in the hall had come to fisticuffs (mildly) over one boy teasing her and the other defending her.
    The principle informed me that this sort of clothing is provoking to the kids and causes this sort of event.

    So my question is this… if a woman is dressed provocatively and gets raped is it her fault?
    This whole thing is nonsense of course. The thing that bothers me isn’t the religion or the country or the raving claric wingnuts.. it’s this whole attitude that men have of pointing their finger at women and blaming other people’s actions and !!!!?natural events?!!!! on their “provocative behaviors”. If your chemistry is so ramped up that you can’t control yourself, who’s fault is that?

  71. David D.

    Just to be fair, you don’t have to be a “religionist” to be a terrorist. There are more than enough examples in the “secular” world. Just saw a report that Swiss anarchists were stopped on their way to blow up an IBM facility (talk about war on science). Eco-terrorism is a fairly dangerous and costly brand of terrorism, and does not seem to associated with Christianity, Islam, etc.

    Perhaps we should also mention Bill Ayers/Bernadine Dohrn. A number of police officers were murdered in the 60’s/70’s by groups that I’m pretty sure eschewed any religious affiliation.

  72. DodgerDean

    “I support poking them in the eye with this kind of thing as well”

    Uh, yeah sure, you could put an eye out with that (them).

  73. I was a ‘firm’ ‘support’er of this event. The concept was easy to grasp. As Barney Fife would say we have to “nip it in the bud” (the idea that clothing or lack thereof will cause seismic events).

  74. Humyraa

    i would really like to clear up something. muslim women are NOT oppressed. and i speak from experience. i am a muslim woman and i am nowhere near oppressed. nowhere in islam does it say that women should be oppressed in any way, shape or form. the people who do oppress women are following their culture or a completely twisted wrong view of islam that they have.

  75. The Ill Tempered Klavier


    Just so. Yet the wing nuts continue to preach mountains of (expletive deleted) I’ve yet to find justified anywhere in the Q’ran. Not that “Christian” wing nuts are any better: To call those jerks stupid flies in the face of the ingenuity with which they twist perfectly innocuous little verses into seeming to support their lunacies. I particularly detest those classic pulpit pounders who can’t seem to deliver a sermon without every other verb being smite.

  76. David L

    This thinking by Muslim clerics is a confession of the moral bankrupy and weakness of their men, who cannot conduct themselves in a restrained manner. They blame women for their own inadequacies. Hiding the female form only incites their passions.

  77. Brian Too

    3 Cheers for the Boobquake!!

    What a minute, 3?! 2 seems half-hearted, 4 seems excessive, but 3 is just a little, um, Total Recall-ish.

    Oh well. 4 Cheers for the Boobquake!!

  78. Timmy

    i’m still mulling the idea of “Draw a cartoon of Mohammad day” as well as a tatoo

  79. Given the geological relationship between earthquakes and recent volcanic activity, we may yet see the headline “BOOBQUAKES LEAD TO MASSIVE ERUPTIONS”.


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