6 things about weather forecasts and warnings that people might always struggle with

Forbes Media LLC

By Marshall Shepherd


These 6 things about the public might always create challenges with weather forecasts and warnings no matter what we do.

Optimism Bias. Scholars have discussed the human tendency for optimism bias. People tend to assume that situations will turn out in an optimal way. For example, a person might live in a floodplain but refuse to buy flood insurance, yet tell their co-worker they just bought a lottery ticket because they think this is the big night. Flood losses are the more likely outcome. Kendra Cherry, writing at VeryWellMind.com, called optimism bias the "illusion of invulnerability and it probably explains the thinking in the image above.

Wishcasting. In the South, we don't get very much snowfall during the winter so whenever there is a chance of snow, I often see "wishcasting" kicking in. People consume or interpret information in a manner that favors their hopes though evolving information tells a different story. This is very similar to confirmation bias or the tendency to consume information that is consistent with what we already believe (or in this case hope for). I found an interesting web discussion on the Accuweather website that discusses how even weather enthusiasts can succumb to "wishcasting."


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