During World War II, future Nobel Prize winner Kenneth Arrow served as a military weather forecaster. “My colleagues had the responsibility of preparing long-range weather forecasts, i.e., for the following month,” he wrote. “The statisticians among us subjected these forecasts to verification and found they differed in no way from chance. The forecasters themselves were convinced and requested that the forecasts be discontinued. The reply read approximately like this: `The commanding general is well aware that the forecasts are no good. However, he needs them for planning purposes.'” (Gardner 2010).

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Seismologists often encounter a similar situation when...

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