The Long and the Short of It

Bias fascinates me, so I was, of course, fascinated when articles and blog entries on the rift between climatologists and meteorologists hits the news. Yesterday, stories were all over Google news and various blogs. For example, Thomas Lin’s Dot Earth blog has a good discussion: “Weather Forecasters on Global Warming”

What I didn’t find–although admittedly I read only a few of the 90 some results–was a discussion of a possible innate bias between these two groups. Here, I am not talking about logic but natural inclination. By job description, a climatologist focuses on the long term. That’s what climatologists do, and, one would assume, that’s what someone who chose to become a climatologist wants to do. By definition, a meteorologist is interested in the short term–the weather. For a weatherman, a ten day prediction is long term.

My assumption is that these people chose their vocations according to their innate preferences, a type of natural bias, for either short or long term views of the world. In fact, I would hope they chose their jobs because of an innate preference, because otherwise, many of them are probably pretty miserable in their jobs.

I have no keen insights other than this generalization, and I certainly have no proof of anything here. However, I do remember the adage that to a person whose only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If I’m right about this natural division between climatologists and meteorologists, I find it distressing that those with a predilection for the short term view hold the media limelight when live in a long term world.

Cassandra

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