The massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit south central Turkey near the Turkey/Syria border of February 6 has resulted in nearly 20,000 deaths as of this writing. It spawned aftershocks nearly as strong as the first, and it also spawned something else … conspiracy theories. Not long after the news of the initial shock began to spread, so did a conspiracy theory that the earthquake was not natural – it was the result of a “HAARP device” from the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program of the United States, with the evidence being reports of mysterious lightning and lights in the sky over the epicenter shortly before the first quake. A second conspiracy theory followed, putting the cause of the earthquake as a peculiar planetary alignment which was said to have occurred 2,000 years ago before another massive earthquake. Finally, a video made the rounds on the Internet of a white dog howling as if to sounds an alarm shortly before the quake struck. Is there any credibility in any of these conspiracy theories? Let’s find out.
“The earthquake in Turkey looks like a punitive operation (HAARP) by NATO or the US against Turkey. The video shows lightning strikes, which are not normal in earthquakes, but always happen in harp (sic) operations.”
As expected, the first news of the earthquake and the conspiracy theories came from tweets like the one above. It refers to HAARP – the controversial ionospheric research program developed in 1993 with funding from the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Those connections plus the increased concerns about governments secretly releasing substances in the atmosphere as weapons or for weather modification put it immediately at the center of the conspiracy theory world. In HAARP’s case, the ionospheric disruption or alteration would be done by a pulsed or continuous signal called the Ionospheric Research Instrument. While the stated purpose of HAARP was to analyze the ionosphere for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance, it was quickly morphed by conspiracy theorists into a weapon capable of bouncing a powerful signal off the upper atmosphere to anywhere in the world as a way of triggering powerful storms, floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes. In the process, the sky would appear to be burning or at least unnaturally lit up. These capabilities have never been proven, but that has not stopped their proliferation.
“These clouds appeared as a result of US weapon HARP (sic) activating the ionosphere to create an artificial earthquake on February 2, 2023.”
A number of photos and videos appeared on social media in the aftermath of the earthquake showing lightning, lights in the sky, and illuminated clouds. Some of these photos were quickly debunked as being from other dates and locations. Furthermore, lights before or during earthquakes are a known and often seen phenomena possibly caused by disruptions in the electrical grid or by ionization of oxygen caused by ions released into the atmosphere by the high stress caused by the rubbing of the tectonic plates. Seismologists know that Turkey and Syria sit on the Turkish/Anatolian plate which is between three major tectonic plates: African, Arabian and Eurasian, and that convergence of rocks is the probable cause of the earthquakes and the release of ions resulting in earthquake lights. That should end the conspiracy theory about HAARP, right?
“No such thing as COINCIDENCE. Turkey rejected a NATO expansion a week ago, and now faces a massive earthquake. HAARP”
Many tweets like this one point to the political climate as an explanation for why the United States would have a reason to use HAARP as a weapon against Turkey – the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s alleged resistance to get involved and possibly leaving NATO and the European Union. Leaders in that country, NATO, the U.S. and Europe all deny these conspiracies, although admitting that progress is slow and many discussions are stalled. However, stalled discussions are no reason to unleash any kind of weapon on innocent citizens, let alone one that doesn’t exist.
Moving on to the man who ‘predicted’ the earthquake three days before it happened …
“Sooner or later there will be a ~M 7.5 #earthquake in this region (South-Central Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon). #deprem”
That tweet on February 3rd was by Dutch researcher Frank Hoogerbeets, who works for the Solar System Geometry Survey (SSGS) in the Netherlands. Hoogerbeets’ alleged prediction was quickly spread by the media three days later when the earthquake hit, and questions were asked as to why no one had paid attention to him. Newsweek did some digging and found out that the Solar System Geometry Survey (SSGS) is a "research institute for monitoring geometry between celestial bodies related to seismic activity." In other words, Frank Hoogerbeets works under the premise that the alignment of planets and other celestial bodies can have a gravitational pull on the Earth that can trigger earthquakes. That’s quite a leap of faith from the proven influence of the Moon on Earth’s tides to planets and stars pulling and pushing tectonic plates - planetary geometry. We should also point out that “sooner or later” is not an exact prediction. Is it even a prediction? Newsweek also noted that Hoogerbeets' and the SSGS Twitter feeds have had many similar “predictions” which have not come true. And yet … Hoogerbeets’ ‘prediction’ was circulated with the conspiracy theory that sinister forces ignored him.
Just like they ignored the howling dog.
“He tried to warn them of the danger about to come before the earthquake hit! These are God's gifts to humans we should appreciate them more!"
On Feb. 6, 2023, @straybeautiful posted on TikTok a video that claimed to show a dog howling on a Turkish street at night to warn people about the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that was coming soon. The caption was the only evidence provided about the dog, the location, the time and the alleged reason for its howling. Snopes took charge of finding out more about the video – it noted that a sign on the building behind the dog said “Eczane,” which is the Turkish word for pharmacy. There is a mosque in the left side of the frame. The video was eventually traced to TikTok user @solist.zamira, whose caption read "Depremden saatler önce dikkat çekici bir olay" or "A remarkable event hours before the earthquake." Actually, if the video is really of a dog howling hours before the earthquake, it’s not that unusual. Animals – pets and livestock – are will known to sense earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes hours and even days before they occur. On the other hand, dogs howl for no apparent reason other t6han that they are dogs and they can. Thus, the video, if it is real, is certainly not enough to say the dog was trumpeting the coming disaster.
As always, it takes far more effort to investigate a theory than it does to spread it. HAARP didn’t cause the earthquake in Turkey. Frank Hoogerbeets didn’t predict it. The dog didn’t howl a warning. Next time, save your breath and send a donation to a legitimate relief fund for the victims.