Thursday, April 17, 2014

New To My Weather Blog?

Good day everyone…

While many visitors to my blog are returning customers, the site tracker shows that I get a fair amount of new readers especially during extreme weather events. If you're new here, this post will give you an idea of what to expect.

First and foremost, I’m a data guy. Show me the data that reinforces your point on a topic if applicable and I'll listen. If its in a peer reviewed paper or presentation, all the better.  No hearsay.  No opinions that poise as factual information.  No passive aggressive comment rants.  I like hardcore data. The problem is that science and data are scary topics for most people even the most science savvy individual.  The mere word “data” has cold, dark connotations. Data is antiseptic. That’s why people have a tough time relating to it. This is why politicians steer clear of spouting esoteric numbers.  So they attach an emotional component to it--a clever narrative--to attract voters. It works. Its basic human nature. But it can grossly diminish the baseline facts of any issue. Human nature allows us to forge relationships with other people. It’s the essence of the human experience. It defines who we are. Yet it can blur our vision when we perform data driven analysis of any kind. This is where Behavioral Meteorology comes into the picture.  

When I say "Behavioral Meteorology", people think that this only refers to how the changing weather conditions alter our moods and body.  While this undoubtedly occurs (ask my surgically repaired shoulder before a snow storm), my definition of Behavioral Meteorology is the study of how we perceive weather, weather forecasts and climate through our own cognitive biases and preconceived ideas. The aim of my blog is simple: Present the weather and the data in a local context with some historical perspective. When applicable, show how our preconceived notions of the weather affect our objectivity. I revisit these ideas either directly or indirectly in posts by answering some of these questions below using a myriad of charts, graphs and easy-to-understand images.

     1) How do we “perceive” the actual weather conditions, weather forecasts and past weather events?

        2) To what degree has the proliferation of weather information over the internet and most recently smart phones skewed our view on the accuracy of weather forecasts?

     3)    Has this flood of instantaneous weather information influenced the public’s view on current weather events and their place in weather history?

     4) Do people put more credence in weather folklore than in weather science?
     5)   What are the specific psychological drivers of our weather/science perceptions?  More generally--a topic for other more qualified people to answer--how do these "drivers" lead us astray on more pressing global and domestic issues outside science?

As a reader, I hope that you take a step back and do the same.

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