Ground Hog Day 2012: Revise That Equation
I have the distinct impression that I've written this post before. Several times. You may feel that you've read it before. Over and over again. It's only 8 am ET here, but already (thank you Internet) the results and prognostications are in:
Date Prediction Groundhog Location
2012 Early spring[ Wiarton Willie Wiarton, Ontario
2012 Early spring General Beauregard Lee Lilburn, Georgia
2012 6 more weeks of winter Malverne Mel Malverne, New York
2012 Early spring Holtsville Hal Holtsville, New York
2012 Early spring Buckeye Chuck Marion, Ohio
2012 Early spring Staten Island Chuck Staten Island (New York City)
2012 Early spring Shubenacadie Sam Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
2012 6 more weeks of winter Punxsutawney Phil Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
I knew the "rule": if the GH sees its shadow, there are 6 weeks more of winter. I thought incorrectly that if the GH didn't see its shadow, there are 6 more weeks of winter anyway. But I have now been disabused of this idea: if the GH does NOT see its shadow, the equation tells us "Spring will be early". How early? Nobody says. So the current, traditional theorem is this:
f(GH) = sees shadow = 6 more weeks of Winter
f(GH) =does not see shadow = early Spring
The Wiki tells us about these predictions:
Groundhog Day proponents state that the rodents' forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. A Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years puts the success rate level at 37%. Also, the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the overall prediction accuracy rate is around 39%.
Did you see that? According to the Canadian Study and the National Climatic Data Center, we've got it exactly backwards. Completely backwards. Taking a contrarian view of the current theorem,
f(GH) = t, where t = duration of winter,
nets you an astonishing 63% or 61% accuracy. Way better than a coin toss. More powerful than a speeding locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. And over time almost (almost is a relative term) accurate 2 out of 3 years.
The question, given all of this, is why we persist in the current formula. The current equation is clearly incorrect. And so a simple proposal from here into the future. Can we change the equation to this:
f(GH) = -t
I'm not expecting a vast cultural uprising about this, I'm not even expecting anyone to notice. We just keep doing it over and over again.
Happy GH day!