60% Confidence

Now I know that people are always griping that meteorologists are paid to be wrong most of the time, given the inaccuracy of weather forecasting, but today I am not talking about that.*

I spent yesterday outlining a manuscript, basically making all the figures, figuring out what data are missing, how best to tell the story, thinking of something/anything else that might explain the data, etc.  Publication and peer review generally set a high bar.  You have to be pretty much 100% sure that the data you put out there are correct, that your interpretation is correct, that your model is correct (or at least accounts for all the data).

So…. with this in mind, I nearly spewed my coffee when a FB friend linked to a weather forecast with this image:

Oh what I wouldn’t give if I could just publish everything as it stands right now and merely qualify each figure with a confidence percentage.- and that 60% confidence was all I needed!

That said, I am REALLY hoping this forecast is wrong.  As Mabel said when we went for a walk Saturday, “It looks like Elsa** has been all around here!”

*Northeast Storm Center is maintained by a 16 year old budding meteorologist.  I don’t think s/he’s raking in the dough.  I commend him/her for the scientific zeal and think the work and dedication are awesome. This post is just about my reaction to the image- meteorology is clearly a totally different science from molecular/cell biology and not held to the same standards of peer review. Also, I think, in this case, the confidence percentage was a great way to be clear about how much weight to put on the forecast.

**Reference to the movie Frozen.


Filed under Scientist

2 responses to “60% Confidence

  1. 1) Oddly, the NWS predicts it will snow less in the western half of VA, and about twice as much in the Piedmont. Either they or this person’s map is horribly mistaken.

    2) If I could have published things that were wrong two times out of five, I would have published so many papers. (Though I’m willing to believe peer-reviewed meterology work is held to a higher standard than the evening news.)

    3) In WI we used to joke that the percent chance of snow or rain was actually the percent of the day that it was going to snow or rain. It was a surprisingly accurate joke.

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