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Etho-Geological Forecasting

Etho-Geological Forecasting:
Unusual Animal Behavior & Earthquake Prediction
by David Jay Brown



I began researching the strange and mysterious behaviors of animals that are often reported prior to earthquakes in 1996 as part of a  collaboration with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake. The initial  research that I did became the backbone for the section on this subject  in Dr. Sheldrake’s bestselling book on the unexplained powers of  animals, Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home. (This  information was updated, with a summary of the earthquake data that has  accumulated since Dogs That Know was published, in Dr. Sheldrake’s more  recent book The Sense of Being Stared At.) Since I compiled more  material than Dr. Sheldrake could fit into the section in his book on  this subject, I summarized much of this material in an earlier version  of this essay, portions of which have been widely reprinted in books,  magazines, and numerous web sites on the Internet.

As a result of this article–which presently comes up as the first item  on Google’s search engine when one types in the phrase “unusual animal  behavior”–I have received many hundreds of reports from people all overthe world. Almost every time there is a major earthquake somewhere on  the planet, I receive a number of reports, sometimes a dozen or more.  The many anecdotes that I have received have been carefully saved in an  ever-growing database. To follow is a revised and updated version of my  earlier article, which incorporates material from the many reports that  I have received, as well as a more thorough examination of the theories  that have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, and a look into someof the new research findings.

There is much anecdotal evidence suggesting that some animals have the  ability to detect sensory stimuli which humans can not–even with our  most sensitive technological instruments. That many animals have access  to a perceptual range exceeding those of humans is scientifically  well-established, but it also appears that many animals have sensory  abilities not currently explained by traditional science. For example,  homing pigeons have remarkable abilities to navigate to their desired  location using abilities that are not fully understood.

Perhaps most significantly, Dr. Sheldrake and colleagues (such as  myself) have demonstrated how some pets appear to anticipate the arrivalof their owner. Regardless of the time of day, some animals appear to  sense when their human companion is returning, without receiving any  known physical signals. The animals usually express this by waiting in  the same spot each time–such as by the door or window–shortly before  their owner arrives home. This research is documented In Dr. Sheldrake’s book on the unexplained powers of animals, Dogs That Know When Their  Owners Are Coming Home.

Researching the unexplained powers of animals with Dr. Sheldrake turned  out to be an extremely fruitful endeavor. In the initial stages of our  research, Dr. Sheldrake brought to my attention the following fact,  which made a great impression on me. Animals have been very carefully  studied In laboratory settings, as well as In the wild; however, the  unique bond that forms between human and pet had never been carefully  explored scientifically. This glaringly obvious, empty niche in the  history of science, which had eluded me and many others, seemed to hold  great promise.

When I began this research I already knew that many pet owners believe  that they have powerful “psychic” bonds with their pets, and often  describe their connection with the animal as “telepathic”. Dr. Dolittle  isn’t the only person who claims to be able to communicate with animals;

many people say that they can do this, and, in fact, numerous books have been written on the subject. Some people claim that their pets have  precognitive abilities, and, of course, others have noticed that some  animals act in peculiar ways just before an earthquake strikes.

I personally experienced the latter phenomenon myself prior to a Los  Angeles earthquake In 1990. I was in graduate school at the time,  working in the learning and memory lab on the fifth floor of the  University of Southern California’s Neuroscience Building. I was working with three other graduate students and three calm rabbits. Suddenly the  rabbits became noticeably agitated. They started hopping around in their cages wildly for around five minutes. Then a 5.2 earthquake sent the  whole building rolling and swaying.

After my experience with the anxious rabbits I have learned that, since  the beginning of recorded history, virtually every culture In the world  has reported observations of unusual animal behavior prior to  earthquakes (and–to a lesser extent–volcanic eruptions), but  conventional science has never been able to adequately explain the  phenomenon. Nonetheless, the Chinese have employed such sightings for  hundreds of years as an important part of a nationally-orchestrated  earthquake warning systems, with some success.

Perhaps most significantly, on February 4, 1975 the Chinese successfully evacuated the city of Haicheng several hours before a 7.3 magnitude  earthquake–based primarily on observations of unusual animal behavior.  90% of the city’s structures were destroyed in the quake, but the entire city had been evacuated before it struck. Nearly 90,000 lives were  saved. Since then China has been hit by a number of major quakes that  they were not as prepared for, and they have also had some false alarms, so their system is certainly not fool-proof. But never-the-less, they  have made a remarkable achievement by demonstrating that earthquakes do  not always strike without warning.

Helmut TrIbutsch’s classic work on the subject of earthquakes and  unusual animal behavior–When the Snakes Awake–details numerous  consistent accounts of the phenomenon from all over the world. Although  these behavior patterns are well-documented, most geologists that I have spoken with at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) don’t take it  very seriously. The official word from the USGS is that there aren’t any earthquake prediction techniques–unusual animal behavior observations  included–which perform any better than chance.

This is ironic and unfortunate, because the USGS itself funded a  Stanford Research Institute (SRI) study for several years, back in the  early eighties, which showed promising results. inspired by China’s  success. In 1975 William Kautz (Click here to read an interview with  Kautz) and Leon Otis created “Project Earthquake Watch”. They recruited  hundreds of volunteers from all over California to observe their animals for any unusual behavior, and call a toll-free hotline number to record  their observations. Kautz and Otis got significant results–that is,  before some earthquakes more people reported unusual animal  behavior–but the USGS stopped funding the study for reasons that no on  that I’ve spoken to so far seems to know. Even harder to understand is  why today the official word from the USGS, and the National Earthquake  Prediction Evaluation Council, is that no form of earthquake prediction  performs better than chance.

In fact, the notion that odd animal behavior can help people predict  earthquakes is perceived by most traditional geologists in the West as  folklore, or an old wives tale, and is often cast into the same boat as  sightings of poltergeists, Elvis, and the Loch Ness Monster. The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, considered an understanding of the  relationship between unusual animal behavior and earthquakes to be an  esoteric form of Secret Knowledge. In ancient Persia (what is now Iran)  there were wise men who predicted earthquakes using a forecasting  process that included digging wells, looking at the moon/stars, and  observing animal behavior. That such strong support for the application  of this knowledge still exists in the East–in long-lived civilizations  like China and Japan–is testimony to the reality of the phenomenon, as  they have witnessed many more earthquakes in their long histories than  has a comparatively young country like the United States.

But not all Western geologists are close-minded with regard to the  phenomenon. James Berkland–a retired USGS geologist from Santa Clara  County, California–claims to be able to predict earthquakes with  greater than 75% accuracy rate simply by counting the number of lost pet ads in the daily newspaper classifieds, and correlating this  relationship to lunar-tide cycles. This maverick geologist has been  meticulously saving and counting lost pet ads for many years. Berkland  says that the number of missing dogs and cats goes up significantly for  as long as two weeks prior to an earthquake. I Interviewed Berkland  (Click here to read the interview with Berkland), and spent many hours  in the local library,

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