How well does Punxsutawney Phil predict the duration of winter? Not so well according to one source:
Phil’s track record is not perfect. “On average, Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time over the past 10 years,” according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages “one of the largest archives of atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, and oceanic research in the world.”
The three-month temperature outlook for February through April 2023 calls for above normal temperatures across the eastern and southern US and below normal temperatures for the northwestern US, according to the Climate Prediction Center…
Despite his mixed record when it comes to actually forecasting the weather, there’s no doubt Phil’s fans still hold him in high regard.
After all, his full title is Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.
In other words, Phil is worse than a coin flip in predicting the coming weather. This is not good; any expert would hopefully be better than that.
However, there is some evidence that many expert predictions about the future are not great. How well can people predict the future performance of the stock market or natural disasters or geopolitical change? Not so well. And it is not just that it is difficult to predict the future; we think we can predict the future so it can be even more damaging when projections are wrong.
I suspect very few people care if Punxsutawney Phil is right or wrong. They like the tradition, the ritual, a festive gathering in the middle of winter. Still, Phil offers a window into our own abilities and confidence about knowing the future…and it is a cloudy window at best.