We had a fluke winter storm over the weekend which was precipitated by an official Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service. They had predicted 5-8” of snow but we ended up with only three.

I know that the government spends millions on weather forecasting and has an army of employees whose sole purpose is to predict the weather patterns. I have seen a tiny sliver of the complex weather data that meteorologists have available to them, and yet they often miss the mark regarding timing or amounts of weather events.

And then I pause to realize that I can’t think of any future happenings that I can accurately pinpoint, let alone hour by hour.

Even with all the data to support their forecasts, the future is unpredictable. Yet every day we expect not only meteorologists to look into their crystal ball, but professionals in many fields to do the equivalent with far less data or predictability. Sales managers are required to submit projections as to the number and dollar value of anticipated transactions, enrollment leaders are expected to land within a narrow range of how many 17-year-olds will make a multi-thousand dollar decision in their favor, and investors place millions of dollars on hunches as to where a volatile market will land.

Data are beautiful things; they help us make sense of the past and have better guesses about the future. Just remember that even with robust data backing it up, it’s only a projection until it’s the present.



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