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Expectations in weather science

WEDNESDAY JULY 29, 2015

Expectations in weather science
Perhaps people get the wrong idea of what the lunar method consists of, and even what the whole inexact science of weather is about. If one goes to a doctor, one does so to get information from which to alone make an informed choice. Weather is the same. Forecasters present information, in our case weather maps, for a year in advance. From that we invite people to interpret trends for their own area.

People themselves are expected to make the predictions that apply for them. I cannot do it for them, although I will suggest trends which I consider stand as potentials but they are not predictions. It is no good saying for a particular day, oh we didn't get rain and you said we might. Every valley, town and hillside location has its own micro climate. No forecaster can possibly be expected to know them all.

It is unreasonable to unfairly judge a service like Met Eireann, NZ metservice, and BoM if the public expect them to say for certain what is going to happen. Those who know and use weather science and have to depend on it, like farmers and fishermen, know to look at say, a westerly wind pattern and say there'll be drying over the next couple of days, or an easterly and say I think rain, or a southerly (in Ireland, the opposite in the southern hemisphere) and say milder temperatures in the short term, or a northerly around a winter full moon (northern hemisphere) and say I'd better be on the lookout for some frosts.

I direct readers to my isobaric maps because that is what I generate from lunar orbits. That was also the essence of the old astrology. People who sought some help in order to make a decision were shown charts that were based on the way seasons work and cycles return, and they were asked what they thought was relevant to them. It was a participatory dialogue.

Today people want someone else to make decisions and then they blame that third party if things don't turn out. They don't think of blaming themselves for deciding to suspend their own judgement or blaming themselves for the wrong choice of which oracle to approach. Because we have busier lives we ask others to decide for us. We avoid taking responsibility for what we decide to do.

So if people say I was incorrect, I ask which map was inaccurate. And if they say they didn't look at the map. I say, then you are the one who is incorrect, because I ask that it be up to you to make the predictions and only up to me to supply the ingredients. If a cake doesn't turn out right, one would not complain to the water, salt, oil, sugar, egg and flour suppliers and say the ingredients didn't work..

There is a wish to label me an astrologer, mostly by people who don't understand what that entails, and merely because I use science in this old way. They use "astrologer" as a put down. But I would never put myself in the exalted company of those longrange forecasters of old, like Copernicus, Galileo, Nostradamus, Newton, Franklin, Kepler etc, who used what was then called astrology to produce longrange weather almanacs, which they all happened to do.

To insist on calling me an astrologer is flattering but undeserved. I am in awe of the real astrology, taken into the west by the likes of Copernicus, Galileo, Lamark, Laplace, Nostradamus, and refined into what became modern physics by Tyco Brahe, Kepler, Franklin, Descartes, Newton, Herschel etc. John Flamsteed the astrologer built the Greenwich Observatory, which is still the benchmark standard for world time. Flamsteed's horoscope wheel is engraved on the outside wall of that fine building.

If it were not for those ancient astrological figures of old, walking geniuses who were high speed human mathematical calculators, who went from town to town solving civic problems, and who painstakingly constructed astrological-astronomical charts in a tradition that led through Persia, India and China, that eventually became the basis of today's mathematics, a tradition thousands of years in the making, mankind would not have gotten the pyramids built, invented computers nor put a man on the moon.

It is probably most upsetting to westerners that all universities as institutionalised buildings were once part of Muslim culture and were operated for the purpose of teaching astrology and furthering Islam, and they ran for 400 years before any European university was founded. All western education owes their institution to those ancient astrologers in eastern cultures, as does all science and agriculture, which came under the astrology label. If we reject that, where does the reader think western education, calendars and science arose from - did it all suddenly appear out of nowhere?

Even books began with astrology, to record lunar phases previously marked off on tally sticks and shells - which means that astrology is as old as writing itself. Perhaps those in the dark need to acquaint themselves with reading of what astrology actually is, rather than just reading the back pages of tabloid magazines.  So rather than reading only biased criticisms of astrology by other fools also too lazy to study it, the serious student could read Campion's work: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/rev_campion.html

If I ever believed I was an astrologer I would say so. My understanding is that an astrologer in the 21st century is a counsellor figure who helps people with relationships and personal problems, not weather. I have never done a horoscope for anyone in my life, therefore I have never felt it necessary or even relevant to put astrologer on any tax return, census form, passport, or drivers license, because I consider myself just a forecaster who happens to sometimes use tools that astrologers of old used.

That does not make me an astrologer, any more than if I sometimes used a hammer in the course of my work I could officially call myself a carpenter, and thenceforth put carpenter on my passport etc. 'Longrange forecaster' is enough of a handle, and I will make use of whatever I think is of valuable assistance to carry out that work.

I note that some scientists are again calling for analysis of my team's work. Why? If someone is getting good results there is no need for analyses, results themselves are all the proof needed that a method works. If a doctor cures a lot of patients no one gets agitated and demands a public inquiry.  Our almanacs, forecasts and other services are selling okay and providing living wages to our staff. So we must be doing something that is useful at least to some. But the reason given by skeptics is 'so that scientists can verify once and for all whether the lunar method is correct' 

The assumption is that the alternative sciences are yearning for acceptance in the science world. This is a science world that runs a scam called global warming. This is a world where a severe weather warning for heavy rain in Wellington, two weeks ago, was issued at 6am only on the morning of the rain day, when the rain was already falling, and not before. I and my co-workers have no desire to join a system that has a dismal track record and periodically publishes alarmist hoaxes, fueled by our own taxes and based  on fantasies that are  devoid of  actual evidence.

Even if an inexact science such as weather forecasting could be marked out of ten, the issue is not about analysis. The way of science is usually that analysis is necessary for those whose methods are not working. Let Metservice or NIWA do their own analyses, it is up to them. But what would there to be to analyse - no meteorologist has ever predicted anything beyond 4-6 days, and this is by their own admission. Beyond that it is guesswork, again by their own admission. Would they analyse guesses? What would be the standard of reference?

We know they don't need to. Mets receive handsome salaries for not predicting anything, but instead for describing what is already happening somewhere close to us and heading our way. In the same vein, no geologist has ever predicted an earthquake. Like others in the earth sciences they are handsomely paid to not predict things. It pays them to be wrong, for then they qualify for more funding, to get their scores back up.

With all inexact sciences there is nothing to analyse fairly. The sceptics who call for such analyses are simply unaware of what an inexact science is, and are intent on gathering support for their own biases. That is not a science problem - it is about personal issues of insecurity. In the absence of criminality involving court charges of corruption and fraud, no one who felt sure of and respected themselves would ever call for a public inquiry of the work of another. In the end it is opinions, and the reader makes of them what he/she wishes. It would be like trying to analyse poetry, or the taste of pineapple.


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