Video: Is NOAA smarter than a 5th-grader?

posted at 8:50 pm on May 27, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Well, in this case, two fifth-graders.  Steven Crowder returns to his normal schedule with his video challenge to NOAA today over its prediction last week that the US will experience somewhere between 6-10 hurricanes this season.  Its track record isn’t exactly impressive; they’ve been wrong 6 out of the last 8 years, although they did manage to beat a chimpanzee’s prediction last year.  Crowder explains that James Hansimian was only their second banana, and this time he’s going to use a pair of experts … as soon as they’re on recess:

National Center puts this in perspective for viewers:

“NOAA’s forecast was on target last year, but it was only the second time in seven years the agency got it right. This may help explain why its forecasts the past two years have had such enormous ranges,” said Ridenour. “Is NOAA smarter than two fifth graders? Given its less than 29% success rate the past seven years, we sincerely doubt it. To find out for sure, we’ve commissioned two fifth graders to calculate the number of Atlantic hurricanes using a methodology that 5th graders use to resolve most of life’s most vexing challenges.”

Filmmakers Steven Crowder and Jordan Crowder co-produced a video of the fifth graders, Kate and Chris, demonstrating their methodology. The three-minute video can be found at http://youtu.be/yz_oPwMosEk . It was co-written by David Ridenour and Steven Crowder.

The video isn’t being released to question the professionalism or dedication of NOAA experts, but to remind Americans that forecasts based on science that is still evolving is unreliable and shouldn’t be used to determine public policy.

“Forecasts are just that: forecasts. All that matters is what actually happens,” said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “We should keep this in mind as we consider whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Past forecasts of rising temperatures, sea levels, and droughts and other extreme weather events due to rising concentrations of carbon haven’t proven any more reliable that NOAA’s annual hurricane forecast. Until their reliability improves, it would be irresponsible to base policy on them.”

A six-hurricane season would actually be unremarkable in terms of average storm activity for the US. Even eight would be more or less routine, except of course for the people who have to live through them. Check back in October, when we’ll grill Crowder on who won the Hurricane Showdown, and whether the experts here can predict the 2012 elections any better than other so-called experts, too.

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Well, as much as it would suck for people on the coast, South and West Texas really need a hurricane or tropical storm. That’s the only thing that will fix this Exceptional drought and the associated fires.

juliesa on May 27, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Your error bars are supposed to be big enough to get about 2/3 of the predictions correct. Less than 1/3 probably means you are doing something wrong.

Count to 10 on May 27, 2011 at 8:58 PM

I regularly go to NOAA to view the weather radar. I stopped reading the articles because they were loaded with Global warming propaganda.

They finally sent me a survey to rate their site, and to include my comments.

You can guess what I said.

Kini on May 27, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Banana.

nickj116 on May 27, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Its track record isn’t exactly impressive; they’ve been wrong 6 out of the last 8 years

So if they were off by one you’re considering them “wrong”? That seems kind of silly. It would be better to see how close they were in each year.

Plus, they’re actually releasing ranges and percentages this year in an acknowledgement that they’re not claiming to be able to predict the exact number every year. So I’m not sure what point this video is adding.

tneloms on May 27, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Dear Ed

Just put up ‘Palin is awesome’ and you can go to bed.

Sincerely, Lanceman

Lanceman on May 27, 2011 at 9:15 PM

What we need, of course, is a panel of Presidentially Appointed Experts.

Jugeared Jesus can do everything else by decree; why not weather?

C’mon Mommypants, show us what you’ve got.

hillbillyjim on May 27, 2011 at 9:22 PM

6 hurricanes is a guess? That is right down the middle.
NOAA’s predictions have been tainted by Warmists who find it necessary to predict disaster in order to keep the gravy flowing and politicians panicked. It is about time they left predictions to real weather people. Both Accuweater and The Weather Channel used to have extremely accurate forecasts. Now the latter not so much because of contamination by Warmists. At some point in time shouldn’t some expect accountability for these predictably wrong forecasts? Shouldn’t someone call these cultists into a room and say, ‘you know, you are full of crap? Let’s review your record. Don’t bother sitting down.’

pat on May 27, 2011 at 9:23 PM

His video on Net Neutrality is a winner, just for the last 40 seconds of the video.

Crowder destroys a hippie. And it’s awesome!

ButterflyDragon on May 27, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Well, as much as it would suck for people on the coast, South and West Texas really need a hurricane or tropical storm. That’s the only thing that will fix this Exceptional drought and the associated fires.

juliesa on May 27, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Georgia and other Southern states depend on Summer tropical storms for desperately needed rain as well. We only hope that they aren’t too violent when they hit land.

slickwillie2001 on May 27, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Well, in this case, two fifth-graders. Steven Crowder returns to his normal schedule with his video challenge to NOAA today over its prediction last week that the US will experience somewhere between 6-10 hurricanes this season.

A couple of things stand out after a very little bit of googling:

-Their prediction doesn’t only apply to the US, but to the entire Atlantic Basin. Kind of an important distinction if that’s how you came up with them being wrong 6 of the last 8 years.

-What they’re actually predicting is a 70% likelihood of the number of hurricanes falling within that range. It’s like saying there’s a 60% chance the Miami Heat will win the NBA championship. Are you wrong if the Mavericks win? Not really. You’d have to play the series 100 times to really know how accurate your prediction was.

-The predictions are in line with noted AGW skeptic and hurricane expert William Grey’s forecast.

-I bet you that all the big insurance companies are taking those NOAA predictions seriously. That would be probably the best indication of how useful the numbers are, and is more what they’re intended for. Yeah, if you’re living on the Gulf Coast you can safely ignore them and be prepared for the worst no matter what. If you have billions of dollars riding on issuing the right policies all across the Atlantic basin, it’s probably good to know.

RightOFLeft on May 27, 2011 at 10:25 PM

I would like to add – NOAA also made “oil sheen forecasts” due to Deep Water – that were outrageously bogus – and killed Florida tourism, not just in the NW – but central and south – for they loved to keep talking about “the possibility it gets into the Gulf Stream and wraps around the Florida Keys.

Because I am in the tourism business, I publically took a NOAA hack and an Attorney to task at a state-wide TDC/CVB conference.
I asked “if and when Florida recovers ahead of your 3 year “destruction” timeline (the formula the attorneys are using) – will you release the reality in a report or do you need to keep an artificial 3 year date to rack up attorney fees?” His answer: “Um, you would have to talk to your marketing people” – of which I let him know “I am the north Florida marketing guy, representing over 200 entities, so should I prepare them to increase their marketing budget to overcome an artificial “impact” to our industry – or hope the media just buries it and keep our fingers crossed???”

Silence, though I got several hand shakes and dropped $230k in business that afternoon…

Odie1941 on May 27, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Well, in this case, two fifth-graders. Steven Crowder returns to his normal schedule with his video challenge to NOAA today over its prediction last week that the US will experience somewhere between 6-10 hurricanes this season.
A couple of things stand out after a very little bit of googling:

-Their prediction doesn’t only apply to the US, but to the entire Atlantic Basin. Kind of an important distinction if that’s how you came up with them being wrong 6 of the last 8 years.

-What they’re actually predicting is a 70% likelihood of the number of hurricanes falling within that range. It’s like saying there’s a 60% chance the Miami Heat will win the NBA championship. Are you wrong if the Mavericks win? Not really. You’d have to play the series 100 times to really know how accurate your prediction was.

-The predictions are in line with noted AGW skeptic and hurricane expert William Grey’s forecast.

-I bet you that all the big insurance companies are taking those NOAA predictions seriously. That would be probably the best indication of how useful the numbers are, and is more what they’re intended for. Yeah, if you’re living on the Gulf Coast you can safely ignore them and be prepared for the worst no matter what. If you have billions of dollars riding on issuing the right policies all across the Atlantic basin, it’s probably good to know.

RightOFLeft on May 27, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Sorry, but I completely disagree. When NOAA forecasts 6-8 storms and only 1 hit – its not the same as “if the Heat won”, being $$MM’s are lost in tourism and other business development/economic development projects.

It also allows insurance companies to artificially increase premiums based on bad guessing. When is the last time you saw, en masse – premiums ever go down… they dont – and the spread is called pure profit.

Colorado States Grey??? That tool is the so-called “leading hurricane expert” – who is in bed with NOAA – and is also the guy who created the “9-12″ Cat3 frenzy – after Katrina and has been dead wrong.

Laslty – as a NW Floridian – I can assure you – residents here are always prepared and take care of their own. Opal was far more destructive to my immediate area – but we dont have good racial optics to harp on, we rebuild and help our neighbors. NOAA’s bogus predictions dont prepare anyone here who have lived here, through storms each year. What it does do is kill our core industrys.

IN 2007 – the State of Florida considered a $1.5B lawsuit against NOAA for loss of tourism dollars. It went down the rabbit hole – largely due to the great 2008/2009 rebound here, but was in serious consideration.

Odie1941 on May 27, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Between zero… and 99,999… Don’t doubt me.
-

RalphyBoy on May 28, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Sorry, but I completely disagree. When NOAA forecasts 6-8 storms and only 1 hit – its not the same as “if the Heat won”, being $$MM’s are lost in tourism and other business development/economic development projects.

Odie1941 on May 27, 2011 at 10:45 PM

Actually, they don’t take into consideration the first prediction. NOAA always seems to have a “revised” prediction midway through the hurricane season. That’s sort of like waiting to see who wins the first 4 games in a 7 game series and predicting a winner.

I’m pretty sure it was year before last they had 3 revisions come out and each one lowered the previous predictions numbers. If one was to go by their original prediction, they would have missed by a country mile.

ButterflyDragon on May 28, 2011 at 1:08 AM

Liberal morons having seizures about the kid with the cigar in his mouth in 5…4…3…

Dopenstrange on May 28, 2011 at 1:39 AM

Odie1941 — the last time I saw insurance companies drop premiums in masse is here in New York where auto premiums have plummeted. It’s called a competitive market. Since the high losses were due to criminality which the City cracked down on, the companies who had shunned NYC biz wanted lots more and fill my mailbox with offers.

Florida property insurance is seriously underpriced for the hurricane risk. This is why companies do everything they can to avoid taking homeowner’s risk and business owner’s risk in FL. The reason for the underpricing is state regulatory action which makes it between difficult and impossible to exit the state or charge appropriate premiums. No new insurance capacity comes on line because of the unprofitability. Charlie Crist made the entire financial structure of the state dependent on no major hurricanes.

FWIW, Bill Gray of Colorado State is the one who blew the whistle on the IPCC for their statements on increased hurricanes from global warming — there has been no increase in either number or intensity.

I believe that we are currently in the longest period in history for the U.S. to not be hit by a major hurricane (since ’05)

levi from queens on May 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM

So I’m not sure what point this video is adding.

tneloms on May 27, 2011 at 9:13 PM

The point is for Crowder to mock something that he doesn’t understand. If he makes it funny, he doesn’t have to admit his lack of knowledge.

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Sorry, but I completely disagree. When NOAA forecasts 6-8 storms and only 1 hit – its not the same as “if the Heat won”, being $$MM’s are lost in tourism and other business development/economic development projects.

NOAA has not been that far off, from 6-8 down to 1. In fact, NOAA does not make predictions of how many will hit land since that would be impossible to read in advance. NOAA’s track record is in fact really good in recent years. First, NOAA always gives a range. Sometimes the range is high, sometimes low. But let’s look at 2007-2010.

2007:
NOAA: 13-17 named storms, 7-10 Hurricanes, 3-5 majors
Actual: 15, 6, 2 (off by 1 major)

2008:
NOAA: 12-16 named, 6-9 hurricanes, 2-5 majors
Actual: 16, 8, 5 (got it right)

2009:
NOAA: 9-14 named, 4-7 hurricanes, 1-3 majors
Actual: 9, 3, 2 (off by 1 reg hurricane)

2010:
NOAA: 14-23 named, 8-14 hurricanes, 3-7 majors
Actual: 19, 12, 5 (got it right)

Conclusions? 1) In the last 4 years, NOAA got it right twice and was off by only 1 in the other two years. 2) Crowder doesn’t mind looking dumb.

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM

You go back 4 years? Wow what a sample. I suspect you have never taken a statistics class.

CWforFreedom on May 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Actually, they don’t take into consideration the first prediction. NOAA always seems to have a “revised” prediction midway through the hurricane season. That’s sort of like waiting to see who wins the first 4 games in a 7 game series and predicting a winner.

I’m pretty sure it was year before last they had 3 revisions come out and each one lowered the previous predictions numbers. If one was to go by their original prediction, they would have missed by a country mile.

ButterflyDragon on May 28, 2011 at 1:08 AM

This.

Angus Funny you don’t address this.

Hiding something?

CWforFreedom on May 28, 2011 at 12:47 PM

I would like to add – NOAA also made “oil sheen forecasts” due to Deep Water – that were outrageously bogus – and killed Florida tourism, not just in the NW – but central and south – for they loved to keep talking about “the possibility it gets into the Gulf Stream and wraps around the Florida Keys.

Because I am in the tourism business, I publically took a NOAA hack and an Attorney to task at a state-wide TDC/CVB conference.
I asked “if and when Florida recovers ahead of your 3 year “destruction” timeline (the formula the attorneys are using) – will you release the reality in a report or do you need to keep an artificial 3 year date to rack up attorney fees?” His answer: “Um, you would have to talk to your marketing people” – of which I let him know “I am the north Florida marketing guy, representing over 200 entities, so should I prepare them to increase their marketing budget to overcome an artificial “impact” to our industry – or hope the media just buries it and keep our fingers crossed???”

Silence, though I got several hand shakes and dropped $230k in business that afternoon…

I’m Bob Dole, and I approve this message.

StevenCrowder on May 28, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Angus Funny you don’t address this.

Hiding something?

CWforFreedom on May 28, 2011 at 12:47 PM

I used only NOAA’s initial predictions. Are you embarrassed about something?

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM

You go back 4 years? Wow what a sample. I suspect you have never taken a statistics class.

CWforFreedom on May 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM

It’s more data than the original post gave, or the dumb video Crowder made.

Plus, I thought counting higher than four would stretch your limits too much.

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Racist!

Coronagold on May 29, 2011 at 8:10 AM

AngusMc on May 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Ok, so those ranges are acceptable?

14-23 named; – range of 9?
8-14 Hurricanes; – range of 6?
3-7 major; – range of 4?

Well since I’m not as good a scientist, I’m guessing I can pick slightly larger error bars and still be acceptable, right?

My new improved prediction.
8-25 named, 4-15 Hurricanes, 1-7 Major.

That covers, low, medium, and high Hurricane activity; and really isn’t that much larger than the error bars you’ve got for NOAA.

Will you mock anyone who questions my accuracy for methods as well? I strongly suspect my “accuracy” will be better than NOAA’s for any 5-year range you’d care to pick.

I think I’ll just use those ranges forever… looks good enough for government work.

gekkobear on May 30, 2011 at 5:22 PM