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elbanditoroso's avatar

Why do meteorologists (or headline writers) ascribe human characteristics to weather?

Asked by elbanditoroso (22757points) July 3rd, 2014

Today’s headlines:

“Arthur takes aim at Northeast” and similar.

That suggests that the hurricane is sentient and has the will to move in its own direction. Of course, that isn’t true. A hurricane is responding to weather patterns and wind changes, and has no intrinsic will of its own.

So why personify something like a storm?

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21 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

To connect and relate to the audience.

canidmajor's avatar

Chatting among themselves, they probably refer to “trajectories”, but packaging the storm so the average viewer will engage with the story requires more POP so they anthropomorphize it. Ratings matter. This helps.

ucme's avatar

To “beef” it up a little
Cow flirts with farmhand over dinner

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ucme – what a load of bull!

ucme's avatar

@elbanditoroso Just thought i’d steer you in the right direction.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Anthropomorphism, plain and simple. We have this persistent and primitive need to humanize anything we don’t understand in an effort to explain its characteristics, and more importantly its motives. Even the “enlightened” among us who recognize that such things as storms are not emotional entities are still willing to attribute the weather to be directed by a god or gods of which they are always ready to saddle with human characteristics.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Because that’s what we, as a species, do – we ascribe human characteristics to things. That’s how we relate to the world around us.

marinelife's avatar

What ^^^^^ they said.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Because many hurricanes and tornadoes actually do act like petulant, spoiled children throwing severe tantrums and breaking things willy nilly.

As for Arthur, that is just stupid to name a hurricane after a male. It would need to be a himmicane to get a man’s name.

Coloma's avatar

Well…at least we now have storms named after men instead of only women. Personally I think it’s stupid, if I was to name storms I’d call them what they really are…” Tropical storm shit fan” or ” Hurricane wipe out.” lol

Darth_Algar's avatar

Hurricane “Tuck your head between your legs, pray to whatever god you believe in and prepare to kiss your ass goodbye”.

Seaofclouds's avatar

[Mod says] Moved to social with OP’s permission.

Berserker's avatar

Hurricanes are given names in order to identify them. It’s much easier to do this than to pinpoint a certain hurricane by its specs. Hurricanes usually do enough damage that they will be remembered, so they are given names in order to facilitate current reports and historical mention.

Aethelwine's avatar

Maybe hurricanes should only be named after men, because female-named hurricanes aren’t taken as seriously and more people end up dying from them than they do during male-named storms.


Berserker's avatar

Er…they can make anything they want with statistics. I find it extremely hard to believe that a hurricane has a mind of its own and decides to be more hardcore if its given name, or the hurricane itself, is not respected. But hey, I’m not discounting nothing…

katrina y u no sirius

longgone's avatar

^ The higher number of deaths is according to the link due to necessary precautions not being taken. The storm’s “mind” has nothing to do with it ;)

Berserker's avatar

Nor does the name, I’m sure.

longgone's avatar

Precautions people take or don’t take do influence the number of deaths. And if the name should happen to change which precautions are taken…then yes, that is relevant. I don’t know how trustworthy that link is. I’m just pointing out that the phenomenom could be real.

Berserker's avatar

Precautions people take or don’t take do influence the number of deaths.

I’m not arguing that. It’s obvious.

And if the name should happen to change which precautions are taken…then yes, that is relevant.

If people are stupid enough to allow a given name to dictate which precautions they take or do not take, then that’s just damn sad. But yeah, looking at it like that, then the link makes sense…unfortunately.

longgone's avatar

Okay. We’re on the same page now. And yep, it’s sad.

Aethelwine's avatar

My link provides sources- the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University examined six decades of hurricane death rates according to gender, spanning 1950 and 2012. (The study excluded Katrina and Audrey, outlier storms that would skew the model).

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