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ANT363 (Mar 20, 2013).docx

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Todd Sanders

Predicting - Introduction o To know something about the future and act in the present o We live in a world of experts, forecasters and we pay attention to what they say; they forecast and predict from everything under the sun: politics, market trends, climate, etc; o A large part, people predict things wrong because the future is a tricky business o The belief that man can know the future remains strong and we continue to organize our life presuming that we could know the future o Great deal at stake to be able to know the future; necessary for climate predictions; what to do now and what procedures to take thereafter o Not just about speculation o Prediction science: different than other sciences, making predictions based on data from other sciences; more at stake because you’re making prediction claims - Few questions to keep in mind o Can we know the near or distant future? o How well do we have to believe our predictions? How much confidence do we need so that we can make decisions? o In light of looking at failures, why are we still so faithful in future predictions? - Kenyah Badeng of Sarawak, East Malaysia o Smelling the monsoon o Weather prediction o Rice farmers who spend their weekdays farming and return to villages on the weekends for social events such as church o Use cash; some work in plantations, some sell handicrafts and have small businesses o El Niño and El Niña o Important to know the weather for farming o They don’t use scientific forecasting even if it’s available to them o How do the kenyah badeng perceive and classify weather and its variability? How do they predict and forecast weather events? How do they respond to extreme and daily events? o Routinely observe the weather and observe the signs around them  Pay attention to animal behaviour  Pay attention to sky coverage (clouds and general atmosphere)  Rain characteristics (duration and how heavy it is)  Wind speed  Star formation  Other nature phenomenon that people could see o Based a lot from past experience as well o Senses that people use in order to identify and predict the weather  People themselves are attune to how one feels about the weather, breathing problems, headaches that are related, the smell of the monsoon o Not a rigid way of knowing but from practice and engaging with the land, the animals o Also measure time such as slashing and burning, rice growing time, changing seasons o The authors conclude that while westerners predict and do not get involve, the kenyah badeng like to feel the change the environment and be involved o They forecast and predict through senses o Live closer to environment and thus know what’s going to happen o They’re pretty good at it as well o The body is the sensorial thing and by feeling the environment and the weather o It’s not entirely unproblematic o It’s probably true that the kenyah badeng can predict the weather because they live with it; o But is it really so different? Because westerners can just look out the window and feel like it might rain so they carry umbrella o Complex multi-sensorial way of predicting the weather and the authors are surprised by it that they still use it, but is it really that surprising o What if we just follow the forecasts on the TV every day? o Are they always accurate, right or wrong? o It’s not clear what scientific forecast benefits over just knowing by feeling the weather - Scientific Weather and Climate Modeling o Addresses the issue of computer simulation models for climate modeling o Also used for Medicine, oceanography and geology, etc; o Predicting and knowing the future weather and climate o Doesn’t mean it’s about yes/no answer, they’re all probability of the outcomes o Probabilistic phase and it doesn’t try to predict the definite future o Put statistical parameter on it (ex. between 30-40% of rain) o At the core of this modeling, there is uncertainty o Doesn’t know at a high degree o Author is concern with knowing the climate and weather because of uncertainty  How uncertain knowledge is translated into decision making? o Weather prediction  Modeling the earth’s atmosphere with equations with rate of change in pressure, wind, humidity and other things  Predictions using high speed computers that they feed equations into o Climate modeling  Related but not at all the same thing  The earth’s climate system: atmosphere, ocean, CI and land surface o Two different objects of predictions  Weather is about earth’s atmosphere and short term predictions  Climate is about the climate system; long term magnetic change that includes ocean and land surfaces o Several uncertainty that characterizes both types of predictions  Choice of initial condition (start time of simulation)  How do they determine it?  From observations and it’s not a simple process because subject to error  Generated with other modeling forecasts because can’t start at just empirical time but with previous forecasts  There’s always uncertainty with choices  No obvious wide point or baseline because everything is equally valid or invalid but still have to choose one nonetheless  Choice of modeling equations  Algorithms plugged into system to run  Built on well established theories  Not all the relevant things happening on earth are understood in theoretical ways so cannot be entered in the system  Simplified and idealized in some way  Not obvious which equations are better so there’s arbitrariness  The processes are too small  Individual clouds should be represented and have important effects i
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