Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dontcha just love 'experts'

They're all too eager to talk to the media for their fifteen minutes of fame, the 'experts'.

When they're confidently and authoritatively telling us what will happen in the future - that is, guessing wildly at what may happen - as they so often do, there should be a mandatory warning on the reports. Like the cigarette health warning.

You know, along the lines of This report contains unsubstantiated guesses about the future. Please take with a pinch of salt.

Today's winner in the 'guessing about the future but getting it hopelessly wrong' game is under a wonderful headline in Gulf News.

The lead story on the front page is: Heatwave no cause for panic.

That'll cause panic then.

Continuing in the panic mode the report includes this: In Saudi Arabia, a local newspaper quoted a meteorologist, warning that temperatures could this week soar to 80 degrees Celsius in the sun in desert areas. Dr Khalid Al Jama'an said that temperatures would also soar in cities.

The winner of the wrong prediction expert pronouncement.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the world - and there's some scepticism about it - is 58C (136F).

Gulf News did report on page 3, under the much more sensible heading of: Prolonged, hotter than usual summer forecast, that 80C was impossible.

Don't panic!
Hot summer.


Ian said...

The Saudi report said that the temperature was "in the sun", which is not the correct way of recording temperature at all. All temperatures, including the hottest in the world are all taken in the shade. If you measure the temperature in the sun in Dubai, it will regularly top 60 degrees.

They are not comparing apples with apples and are going for a sensational headline.

Seabee said...

Good point Ian. I recall doing a post way back when the UAE Met office confirmed that they used the international 'in the shade' measurements and that temps in the sun were several degrees hotter.

Anonymous said...

Temperatures are always taken in the shade. If you left a thermometer containing a dark liquid out in the sun today for a prolonged time it would probably approach 80C.

Think about how hot your car steering wheel gets, often too hot to touch when left out in the sun all day.

It's generally accepted that things are too hot to touch at about 60C-65C depending on your skin thickness/sensitivity etc.

So your car steering wheel is probably routinely up to 70C and possibly more.

So 80C "in the sun" is not impossible. But it is shade air temperature that is the benchmark and yes 58C is the world record, though I do remember one day here in 2005 when my car thermometer (I know, not highly accurate) recorded 57C. Today it reads 41.

On the hottest day last week it was up to 46C which was indeed the official high recorded in Dubai that day (the same day 49.7C was recorded in Sweihan) so it is not too bad a gauge.

Seabee said...

True Anon - except
"So 80C "in the sun" is not impossible."

The Saudi 'expert' was referring to air temperature, not the temperature of an object such as metal being left in the sun. Air temperature has never been reported anywhere near 80C.

the real nick said...

Saudi. In a league of its own.

Like the recent fatwa issued by a Saudi religious 'expert' stating that women can breastfeed their drivers..