Thursday, January 22, 2015


In a winter of scant snow the possibility of a storm two days away sends our meteorologists into paroxysms of delight. They engage in possibilities. If the storm tracks here, or here, or further east or further west then this is a possibility. Nothing can be certain.

Certainty, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “is an epistemic property of beliefs”. And epistemology, as defined by the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “is concerned with the nature, sources and limits of knowledge”.

Back in 2010, the New York Times quoted a conservative libertarian concerned with the movement of some conservatives, as well as several publications and news channels, toward a narrow mindedness and inability to see any other possibility save for their own view. He accused them of epistemic closure. He accused the lot of “willful ignorance” and propaganda.

Our weather analysts can’t be accused of certainty. They rely on advanced technology and are willing to alter their forecasts, but they occasionally indulge in inflated possibilities.

Yet, I listen for the highs and lows. I believe them when they suggest running a trickle of water because the temperature will dip. I listen when they say Northeaster and buy a bag of chips.


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