We are just days, hours even, away from Groundhog Day, next Monday. On tip-toes, we anticipate the prognostications of Punxsutawney Phil or Buckeye Chuck (well, you identify your favorite Marmota monax, from wherever your location.) For many of us, this will be the only time this year we will spend paying close attention to the natural world. I know that for a fact, since Pew Research yesterday revealed that only half of us Americans think that human activity is driving global warming while 87% of scientists think so. Obviously only some of us, some of the time, are paying any attention to the world around us.
The conclusion of Pew Research is reinforced by what they discovered about our opinions regarding the evolution of human beings. Only 65% of us agreed that human beings have evolved, whereas 98% of scientists say we have. A similar 68% of us think that vaccinations should be required, and 87% of scientists think such immunization is necessary. Maybe that opinion gap about vaccinations confirms that the Average Jane/Joe is right about human evolution, since those opposed or indifferent to vaccination are about as Neanderthal as can be imagined.
Little research has focused on the prognostic reliability of large, reddish-brown, ground-dwelling rodents of the Sciuridae family. It is difficult to study their meteorological forecasting capacities, since, as Frost observed, “and flash, at the least alarm, we dive down under the farm.” I was going to use the word ‘furtive’ in my string of adjectives but his poetry is better than my prose any day.
Someone, somewhere, is going to have Spring come as other than predicted, no matter whether Phil or Chuck sees his shadow. That is as certain as is Pew Research’s conclusion that when it comes to much of what we Americans hold to, folklore, ideology and politics takes precedence over actual observation and research.