This Sunday (March 20), members of the New Zealand Sceptics Society will be attending a 'non-event' luncheon in Christchurch.

They will marking the failure of another one of Ken Ring's predictions that there will be another big earthquake in Christchurch on or 'around' March 20. Indeed if old Ken is right, Christchurch could have a massive quake right now as I sit here at my computer. And I've just done the housework as well.

The luncheon will be held at the Sign of the Kiwi restaurant, located in an old brick building at the top of the Port Hills. The Sceptics Society say that this was closest building available to the epicentre of the February 22 quake.

This will be perhaps the most high profile attack on the junk science of Ring, who thinks he can predict quakes by the movement of the moon.

Ken Ring has generally been taken to task by the scientific community, the media and several politicians for promoting his cranky theories at a time when Christchurch is a city gripped by anxiety and uncertainly.

While I have no time for the theories of Ken Ring - although many people apparently do - he is an easy target. He's an eccentric out on the fringes but now enjoying his two minutes of 'fame', peddling a theory which has no legitimacy in scientific circles.

It's a pity that the media have not pursued and condemned the wild predictions of people who, unlike Ken Ring, have done real damage to this country.

I'm talking about the acolytes of the 'free market' who have been predicting an 'economic recovery' for many years now.

But, unlike Ken Ring, these promoters of voodoo economics haven't been treated with scorn and derision. No sir. In fact their nonsensical predictions are discussed earnestly in Parliament in the newspapers, on the TV, in the radio, on blogs.

It doesn't seem to matter that they NEVER get it right. It doesn't seem to matter they are promoting economic theories that are junk. But unlike Ring's quackery, the quackery of neoliberalism is treated with reverence, it is ascribed legitimacy.

So many of these wild predictions of 'economic recovery' have been made in recent years I could write a small book on the subject. But here's a few notable wacky predictions to illustrate my point:

* In December last year Westpac economist Brendan O'Donovan predicted that New Zealand 'could have a ripsnorter of a year' in 2011. He went on to say that 'I think we could be on the cusp of a golden decade in terms of economic prosperity.'

In September 2009 he predicted that an economic recovery 'would be fuelled by a migration-driven housing construction boom.'

In 2008 he predicted that 'leading indicators were pointing to a strong recovery in global manufacturing activity.'

A trifecta of wrong predictions! Why hasn't he been ranted at on Campbell Live?

* In March last year the Prime Minister predicted on TVNZ's Q+A that we could expect 'an aggressive recovery in 2010'. Two months later, at a National Party regional conference, he baldly stated that 'the worst of the global crisis has now passed and the economy has begun to grow again'.

A double dip recession has since got in the way.

* In May last year Chris Tennent Brown, an economist with the ASB, claimed that 'the labour market has turned' and predicted a 'strong economic recovery'. Tennent Brown regularly fronts TV3's ASB-sponsored business segment on its six o'clock news show. He hasn't been sacked for not knowing what he's talking about.

*Just a couple of months earlier TVNZ's Corin Dann, now co-hosting TV1's Breakfast, predicted on his blog that the economic good times were near. He wrote: 'one can't help but sense that a proper recovery (similar to that in Australia) is just around the corner.' Nice one, Corin!

Unlike Ken Ring, who is a bit of a sideshow and will eventually return to the fringe from whence he came, the acolytes of neoliberalism are still out there peddling their failed theories and predictions.

Ironically one of those acolytes of the free market will be attending the luncheon on Sunday. That's Minister Nick Smith.

He has described Ring as 'reckless and irresponsible' and that he ought to be held to account for his predictions of a further earthquake in Christchurch.

Will anyone be holding Nick Smith to account for his 'reckless and irresponsible' belief in voodoo economics? I doubt it.


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