How different professions try to predict and plan for the future

by on November 10, 2015 at 3:19 pm in Economics, Food and Drink, Science | Permalink

Here is Jessica Gigot, farmer:

We don’t really plan for the weather short-term. That makes me sound like a bad farmer, but I’ve been surprised so many times that I don’t want to get too attached to one scenario. That’s what old farmers tell you: Be open to unpredictability. The drought will continue, that seems to be the consensus. And I may adjust my planting dates, putting in crops early to harvest early, and putting more in late to harvest again late. I kind of go with instincts. There are great farm planners out there and a lot of spreadsheets to follow, but I honestly don’t do that for every crop. You just get in a time bind and could spend all winter doing that and nothing else. Sometimes, it’s scary looking forward as a farmer. From our farm, we can see Mount Baker and the Puget Sound, a volcano and a rising sea. We’re kind of living for the moment, in a geological sense.

The NYT story, by Ryan Bradley, also interviews an economist, a biologist, a musician, and others.

1 Luke G. November 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Sorry for bringing something off-topic, but I have a request for the readers of MR.

There is a comment from several years ago that I believe Tyler once said about Robin Hanson. (I think it was Robin! My memory is vague). The comment went something like this:

“I listen to most thinkers’ arguments and I say to myself, ‘Sure, why not. That could be right.’ And I promptly forget those arguments. However, when I hear arguments from Robin Hanson, I say ‘That’s impossible and preposterous!’ but I cannot help but think about his arguments for months after.”

My quote is a not-at-all-accurate approximation. Could anyone direct me to the original/correct version?

2 Cererean November 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm

To take things more off-topic…

1st comment, and it’s not Thomas or Ray Lopez. Thank you.

3 ad*m November 10, 2015 at 4:42 pm

One big neg. Hate > Indifference

4 Dylan November 10, 2015 at 5:46 pm

It sounds like a Bryan Caplan quote about Robin Hanson.

5 Kathrin Passig November 10, 2015 at 6:42 pm

It’s in Robin Hanson’s Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hanson

Robin has strange ideas….
My other friend and colleague Bryan Caplan put it best: “When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘Eh, maybe.’ Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘No way! Impossible!’ Then I think about it for years.”

6 Luke G. November 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Thank you.

7 Urso November 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm

“Research” ?

8 Luke G. November 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Uh, I don’t know who the other Luke G. is. I posted the original request. Thank you, in any case.

9 Luke G. November 10, 2015 at 10:07 pm

What is up with all these impostors? Thank you though.

10 Hazel Meade November 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

I wish the government’s court astrologers were as relaxed about the economy as this woman is about the weather.

11 a forecaster November 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Hazel, I grew up on a farm and I am one of those macro forecasters now. I suppose my farm background helped me in some ways, but I don’t read this farmer … or certainly any I know as “relaxed” about the weather. It’s more about humility. You work hard and are a good steward of the resources you have … and yet you know that nothing you can do will make it rain or stop raining as it may be. Humility is a key to good forecasting but it does not mean you relax.

Btw I thought all the excerpts on forecasting in the piece were insightful.

12 anon November 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm

“There are great farm planners out there and a lot of spreadsheets to follow, but I honestly don’t do that for every crop”

He must be >50+ years old. We live in the Era of Big Data. “Professional experience” and “instincts” are nothing more than (TRIGGER WARNING) Voodoo magic.

This guy needs to get out of the fields and in front of his computer. Here, let me help:

http://www.accuweather.com

13 anon November 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm

*”he” is actually a “she”.

14 So Much For Subtlety November 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm

I am shocked, just shocked, by these micro-aggressions. Do you know how zer identifies? Zer might identify as a woman, or not, or as something else. You do not know and it is sexist to assume.

15 asdfG November 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm

It’s probably because of government regulation.

16 Meets November 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Do you really think AccuWeather is accurate?

17 Axa November 11, 2015 at 5:37 am

Well, the question is not about taking a raincoat or not for tonight but planting dates. Ask accuweather that.

18 JJ November 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Can we get a comment on Hamilton? I know you probably think it’s underrated — but it’s not — and you (Tyler and/or Alex, pref. and) really need to listen to the soundtrack.

19 Rich Berger November 10, 2015 at 5:25 pm

So the farmer is worried about a rising sea. Sounds like a New York Times kind of farmer.

20 Hopaulius November 10, 2015 at 7:56 pm

That 3mm/year rise is terrifying! In another 10,000 years or so it will reach the Space needle.

21 Horhe November 10, 2015 at 7:25 pm

I was disappointed because the article did not include a German or a Swedish politician. They could have dropped the guy from the Color Institute and went with Mme Merkel or one of her followers. That would have been interesting to read.

22 Harun November 11, 2015 at 2:45 pm

“We plan everything meticulously in the best interest of our country in the next decade or even century! It is our responsibility as leaders!” out loud.

inner voice “We just plan for the next election.”

23 Dan in philly November 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I try to plan for and predict the future as part of my job. It’s a humbling experience where I end up spending huge amounts of energy worrying about stuff that probably isn’t going to happen.

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