Claim: Psychic Predicted Japan's April 7 Aftershock

According to a Seattle blogger named Kathryne Marihugh, a psychic accurately predicted the April 7 Japanese earthquake, and the one today in Mexico, nearly a month ago.

Marihugh wrote: "Psychic Kit Karson predicted today's earthquake in Japan on March 16. She warned that the first super quake in Japan would not be the last one and they should expect more within a short period of time. She also predicted on March 16 that other large earthquakes may hit the US and Mexico. It is unusual for a psychic to have predicted so accurately these events. So far, her predictions are really quite amazing."

"Really quite amazing?" Maybe not.

Actually Karson did not predict that an earthquake would strike today; instead she predicted an earthquake might occur at some time between March 16 and April 16.

Furthermore a look Karson's original statement reveals that her prediction on the Mexico quake was more general that Marihugh suggests: She wrote, "I expect the America's [sic] will get it again soon the US or possibly Mexico within a very short time probably within the next month or so." So Karson actually said that a quake might hit somewhere in North, Central, or South America a region encompassing over 20 countries. By telling her readers that Karson had specified a quake would strike "US and Mexico," Marihugh makes the prediction seem much more accurate and specific than it actually was.

But Karson's predictions are not amazing in any event. To understand why, a short geology lesson is in order. Japan is located in one of the most seismically active locations in the world, along the Pacific Ring of Fire. It extends south toward the Philippines, up by eastern Russia, and the entire coastline of North and South America. It's where the Pacific tectonic plate runs along other nearby plates, creating friction and approximately 90 percent of the world's earthquakes.

Follow-up earthquakes (called aftershocks ) are very common after large events, and there had been many in Japan in the past few weeks, with geologists warning that there would be more.

Earthquakes are also relatively common in many parts of the Americas, including the United States and Mexico. If Karson had predicted a follow-up earthquake in an area not already famous for earthquakes say in Australia or Antarctica that would be much more impressive.

And of course, we don't know how many predictions Karson got wrong. If you go back and selectively highlight only accurate predictions, they can seem very impressive. Karson is only one out of more than 30 psychics who offer their services on the Web site that Marihugh references, and there are tens of thousands of people who claim to be psychic. If any one of us non-psychic folks made a list of predictions every week, eventually some of them would come true by random chance.

The real question is, if psychic powers are real, why thousands of psychics did not independently predict today's earthquake or Japan's devastating quake just weeks ago.

Benjamin Radford is managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is

Benjamin Radford
Live Science Contributor
Benjamin Radford is the Bad Science columnist for Live Science. He covers pseudoscience, psychology, urban legends and the science behind "unexplained" or mysterious phenomenon. Ben has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in psychology. He is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and has written, edited or contributed to more than 20 books, including "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries," "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore" and “Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits,” out in fall 2017. His website is