5.1 I Wish I Could Have a Job Where I Was Always Wrong

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 10:30 AM
Ballroom B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
H. Michael Mogil, How The Weatherworks, Naples, FL; and M. J. Bolton

Matt Parker, AMS President and Certified Consulting Meteorologist, passed away earlier this year. Months before he passed, Matt and I discussed the importance of communication to our profession, and his wish that it be the theme for our 2018 Annual Meeting. Parker echoed the theme often espoused by Dr. William Bonner, another AMS past-President.

With a long history of communication - including time spent in TV broadcasting, science and weather writing (blogging, magazine articles, and trade books), teaching, and more - I am always on the lookout for both good and bad examples of weather (and other discipline) communication. I have also earned communication certifications from both the AMS (CCM and CBM) and the NWA (Digital Media Seal).

During the teaching of our Southwest Florida Weather Camps (Summer 2017), we conducted an experiment in probability and quickly realized the inherent problems associated with using probabilities in weather forecasting. Meteorologists’ use of probabilities is predicated on strong science and math fundamentals to convey uncertainties to a U.S. population that is very unskilled in understanding science and math. This mismatch fuels the negative comments that have been thrust upon us by many in the public sphere who use weather information each day. It could be likened to fitting a square peg into a smaller, round hole.

We’ll use our camp experimentation and other frameworks to showcase this situation to conference attendees. Then, we’ll work to start a dialogue on ways to remedy the communication disconnect, in both broadcast and NWS circles.

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