Newspaper Does Not Give Accurate Tram Temperatures

General Palm Springs area.

Postby Perry » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:23 pm

Yeah! They might as well just ask a 5-year-old kid to pick a number between 0 and 25, then print that.

I spoke with one of the rangers at the Long Valley Ranger Station. Here are the observations. The opinions I have expressed here are my opinions only and do not represent views of the state park.

Thu night/Fri morning low: 10°F
Friday's high: 39°F

Fri night/Sat morning low: -5°F
Saturday's high: 23°F

Sat night/Sun morning: 8°F
Sunday's high: 21°F

Sun night/Mon morning: 6°F
Monday's high: 28°F

Cy, did the tram say that 3°F was "the record" or just the record for that date (Jan 13)? The record for the Long Valley Ranger Station is -12°F.
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Postby zippetydude » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:43 pm

Hi Perry. Have you emailed or called the newspaper to ask what their source is? If they can't identify it, it would seem a little fishy. If they say yes, and give you a specific bureau or internet site, then the real source of the numbers might be interesting to find.

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Postby Perry » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:05 pm

I emailed the journalist for the article and also the managing editor. No reply. I think they use Accuweather, but I don't have the newspaper in front of me.

A couple of things really stand out. The ranger station recorded -5F for the low on Friday night and Saturday morning. The Desert Sun said the low was 19F for Friday and 15F for Saturday at the top of the tram. How can you be off by 20 degrees? Also, Monday's front page article said the tram's low on Sunday morning was 13F, but the weather section (in small letters) said the tram had a low of 3F. Strange that the newspaper disagrees with itself.
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Postby magikwalt » Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:21 pm

Whoever is forecasting the weather for them isn't tracking how well they are doing. If you look at the forecast and then look at the observation for that same day they are way off. It makes me wonder if the forcast might be from Idlywilde and the observation from the tram station. The difference between the forecast and the observation way out of wack.
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Postby zippetydude » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:32 pm

"The newspaper doesn't tell people how cold it really gets up there, possibly because the tram doesn't want to see a decrease in ticket $ales. "

Perhaps they're getting too much credit for being clever. If they are contradicting themselves, it may simply be a clueless individual that works there.

Do the tram's website numbers generally agree with the ranger station's numbers?

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Postby Perry » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:01 pm

It's been said, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by human stupidity" or something like that. That is good advice, but I can't help but wonder because this has been happening for several years, and it's hard to believe that I'm the first person to point this out. Also, as the snow melts in the sun, the tram uses old data from shaded areas in Long Valley for their snow levels at the ticket booth. I've heard that ski areas also like to exaggerate.

In the winter time, the tram night temperatures appear to be warmer because of the building heat. The ranger station takes measurements in a shaded, ventilated box that is a few feet off the ground and away from buildings.
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Postby zippetydude » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:31 pm

Great quote. I did a Wiki on it and pulled this up:

Hanlon's razor, a corollary of Finagle's law, is an adage which reads: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. Also worded as: Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice...

...Albert Einstein also believed in the power of stupidity: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Similarly, Elbert Hubbard said, "Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped."

Thanks for the reference, I'll have some fun with that.

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Postby Perry » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:44 pm

Great quotes! I'm not a big fan of razors. (They call me the mountain man, just kidding.) They are only practical ideas when there is a lack of information and many unknowns. A classic example of where Occam's Razor fails is assuming, in Newton's time, that Einstein's Special Theory is invalid because it adds extraneous complications.
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Postby AlanK » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:23 am

That example stretches things a tad! Special Relativity was proposed in 1905 and Newton died in 1727, so it's safe to call it unlikely that anyone invoked Occam's Razor to reject Special Relativity in Newton's time! :-)
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Postby Perry » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:23 pm

It's not the best example. Hypothetically, if Newton had a really good imagination, then he could have imagined Einstein's theory, then dismissed it on the basis of Occam's Razor. There are cases where Hanlon's Razor fails because people passively allow human stupidity to occur and then benefit from it.
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