The dangerous speech of the Mexican ‘influencers’ who believe that the mind can attract earthquakes

The actor José Ron, the 'influencer' Bárbara de Regil and the comedian Sofía Niño de Rivera, some of the celebrities who promoted the theory.
The actor José Ron, the ‘influencer’ Bárbara de Regil and the comedian Sofía Niño de Rivera, some of the celebrities who promoted the theory.RR H.H. /IMDB

Mexican actor José Ron tweeted on September 19 for his million and a half followers: “I don’t know about you, but for me you shouldn’t do drills, they attract energy! We are energy! Thinking and doing drills takes away that energy!” A 7.9-magnitude tremor had just shaken the country just 45 minutes after the national drill, which commemorated the two most serious earthquakes that crossed Mexico, on 19-S in 1985 and 2017. At that time, everyone was pretending same question: how can it be possible that three great earthquakes happen on exactly the same date? A physicist went out to calculate the probability – he said 0.000751% – which spread virally on social networks. The scientists timidly came out to affirm that this was all a simple coincidence. However, the ingredients were already prepared for the rapid propagation of discourses without scientific support that claim that we humans are the ones who attract what happens, that we can even make the earth shake with our mind and energy.

On the other end of the phone, seismologist Carlos Valdés laughs quietly: “I find it interesting, I wish the mind worked like that and then with that energy we could solve many problems.” The researcher from the Institute of Geophysics of the UNAM does not lose his nerve before these magical theories and explains with data: “The energy that accumulates to generate an earthquake like the one on Monday is brewing for 40 or 60 years,” he points out, “the The zone that finally fractures has extraordinary dimensions, they are elliptical below the ground, 70 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide. We are talking about really impressive things, I don’t think that human power, even with all of us together, has the capacity to reach that point.

The actress Bárbara de Regil wanted to know on Monday if her 8.4 million followers agreed with her new earthquake theory: “Why like this? It will be the energy. You see that we are all energy”. The influencer Yoss Hoffman, better known as Yosstop, denied any coincidence: “And history repeats itself, this is not a coincidence, the universe is reminding us of something, something wants to remind us, on the same day, almost at the same time, in the same moment, it is cannon”. The host Martha Debayle brought the law of attraction to the fore: “Do we attract what we attract because of who we are?”

If you are looking for a comparison: the energy of the earthquake of last September 19 is equivalent to that of 20,000 atomic bombs like those that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And they are not the most powerful, says Carlos Valdés, the seismic waves of “magnitude 9.5 monsters” that have occurred in Chile go around the earth for several days. “Could mind power do that? Currently not. But you can do something: check the structures, do drills to study where we have to take shelter and plan evacuation strategies,” says the researcher without mockery.

Following the publications of the influencersthe tarot readers appeared and the coaches that pointed to the same term: egregor, a pseudoscientific concept according to which collective thought forms a psychic entity capable of influencing reality. “It is so naive to think that earthquakes can be ‘attracted’ with thought, as with any other collective desire. If it were attraction and thought, it would rain in the countries where a drought is raging, it would stop raining in the countries that suffer from floods, it would be less cold in harsh winters and less hot in very intense summers”, answers the seismologist Gina Villalobos.

The risk of these anti-scientific discourses is that they are not innocuous, but that under them lies a rejection, for example, of simulacra. The comedian Sofía Niño de Rivera shamelessly tweeted: “I feel that with the drill a tremor is always invoked”, in a publication that was shared by thousands of people.

Villalobos, also a professor at the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, leaves no doubt about the dangers that not having drills would imply: “Failure to train the population in the correct evacuation practices could lead to a greater number of injuries or deaths in an event. future”. And he adds: “It is not a matter of thoughts or energies, it is not pseudoscience that saves lives during an earthquake, it is rigorous earthquake-resistant codes, correctly designed and built structures and prevention practices.”

Luis Antonio Domínguez, PhD in Geophysics from the University of California, speaks along the same lines: “Drills allow us to see what we could be doing wrong in the event of an earthquake.” Especially in the two places where we are most likely to be: in the bedroom and in the office. “Stop doing drills is to ignore that there are earthquakes and that they exist very frequently. If we look at the last 2,000 years, since the birth of Christ, which would still be a very short time for the Earth, there have been several earthquakes every day of the year,” says the UNAM researcher, who has worked at the National Seismological Service.

In Mexico there is a catalog that compiles the earthquakes since 1900, and since then 315 greater than 6 have been registered. 1998, and 2016. On the marked September 19 there have been not only three major earthquakes, but four, one also occurred in 1993 (magnitude 6.3). On September 23 there have been five of the last century. Thus, Niño de Rivera’s proposal, which has become a popular petition: “We have to skip September 19 on the calendar, like elevators that skip 13”, loses its meaning.

Earthquakes are phenomena that cannot be predicted, random and very frequent in Mexico. “We have associated September with the month of earthquakes, so it seems that they all happen in September”, adds Luis Antonio Domínguez, “but even of the last ones we had one of more than 7 in 2018 in February, in 2020 in June and they did not We gave importance”. In the early hours of this Thursday, September 22, Mexico trembled again: an earthquake of magnitude 6.9, it did not need a drill or collective thought.

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