Surfing the tsunami theories

Asia`s tsunami disaster has created a fertile breeding ground for the world`s weirdest conspiracy theories - and they are all there for spluttering over on the Net.
By Tracy Burrows, ITWeb contributor.
Johannesburg, 12 Jan 2005

One thing about the Internet is that it allows you to tap into the thinking of vastly diverse groups of people at the click of a button. This is usually informative, and occasionally even enlightening or amusing.

But sometimes, it is downright scary. Like when people gather online to air their theories about last month`s tsunami disaster.

Apparently, it`s not good enough to credit nature with the kind of force it takes to flatten regions and kill 150 000 people. Nope - there has to be "someone" behind all of this (even if nature is also powerful enough to conjure up tornadoes, unleash massive earthquakes and spew molten lava for kilometres).

Theories abound in online chatrooms. It had to be the work of a wealthy nation, say many. The US, for example. Possibly to distract attention from Iraq. Or possibly by accident, while testing new weapons intended for taking over the world.

And if scientists protest that man-made explosives can`t produce the force needed for an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter Scale, the theorists counter that the quake may have been natural in origin, but the US deliberately kept quiet about it to allow half of Indonesia to be engulfed.

These theories are made less credible by the authors` liberal sprinklings of exclamation marks and the fact that they can`t spell, leading one to believe many of them are still in primary school at best.

Apparently, it`s not good enough to credit nature with the kind of force it takes to flatten regions and kill 150 000 people.

Tracy Burrows, news editor, ITWeb

And some comments in these chatrooms look suspiciously tongue-in-cheek. Could anyone really believe that aliens were buzzing around the affected regions in their spaceships ahead of the disaster, either trying to warn people or telling the Asian governments not to warn anyone?

Not all of the tsunami conspiracy theories are put forward by tinfoil-hat-wearing hermits. Arab news service Al-Jazeera is reported to have stated that Indian or US military testing of electromagnetic weapons caused the tsunamis. Not just that, but the US knew of the pending disaster and deliberately avoided warning Asian countries. And better still, aliens caused the disaster to correct a 'wobble` in the earth`s rotation.

Putting all the other theories to rest is yesterday`s news that in fact, God put his signature on the tsunami. The manager of the Centre for Islamic Studies in Colombo says a satellite picture taken seconds after the tsunami smashed into Sri Lanka`s west coast spells out the name `Allah` in Arabic. So much for aliens.