Friday, July 24, 2015

Dunderheadism: not a new concept

Perhaps you were thinking that dunderheaded, short-term thinking is the exclusive province of 21st century politicians.

Not so.

A Sunday New York Times Book Review item on some new meteorology books (yes, Virginia, people write meteorology books) mentions an 1854 incident in Britain’s House of Commons that will give you a bit of perspective.

The short story is that a couple scientists sought Parliamentary funding for collecting data about the weather, a startling new idea at the time. One of the scientists mentioned “weather forecasting” for the first time, arguing that analysis of weather patterns could help in predicting near-term weather conditions.

The book reviewer, Cynthia Barnett, says that “When a scientifically enthusiastic member of Parliament suggested that amassing weather observations from sea and land could someday mean ‘we might know in this metropolis [London] the condition of the weather 24 hours beforehand,’ laughter broke out raucously enough to stop the proceeding.”

The politician’s habit of ignoring scientific reality has been around for a long time.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

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