Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

This morning as I turned on the news to get the snow forecast I was presented with a rodent on a log and hundreds of onlookers waiting for answers. Would it be an early spring this year? The groundhog Punxsutawney Phill says yes, on the basis that he did not see his own shadow. The Pennsylvanian groundhog  also made a few statements regarding global warming, not sure why, messages about climate change seem to fall flat. Given we don’t listen to scientists proclaiming Earth’s destruction I doubt we will listen to a garden variety groundhog…although voting trends in Australia seem to suggest otherwise. 

Moving on, the tradition dates back to the fifth century, the European Celts believed that animals had certain supernatural powers on special days that were half-way between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox ( Canada has a few well known groundhogs of its own, most noted is Wiarton Willy of Wiarton, Ontario. The tradition in Wiarton is not as old, commencing in 1956 after a journalist from the Toronto Star set out for Wiarton on a tip of a Groundhog Day Festival. All he found were some locals at the bar who had decided GHD was as good excuse as any to come together for a beer. Not wanting to send the journo home empty handed one of the townsfolk stuck is wife’s fir hat in the ground, declared a prognostication and it made the front page. The following year many flocked to Wiarton to join in the festivities which continue today. Wiarton Willy is now a real albino groundhog and along with Phill he predicts an early spring.

So, what of Wiarton Willy’s success rate – the locals boast a 90 – 95% success rate, the statistical data pegs Willy at 37.5%. I won’t be sending my thermals home too soon.


3 thoughts on “Groundhog Day”

  1. Dear Gemma – thankyou for the lesson idea – I will add you groundhog to the list of

    Pseudoscience is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method.[1] Pseudosciences may appear scientific, but they do not adhere to the testability requirement of the scientific method[2] and are often in conflict with current scientific consensus.

    The term pseudoscience appears to have been first used in 1843[3] as a combination of the Greek root pseudo, meaning false, and the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge or a field of knowledge. The term has negative connotations, because it is used to indicate that subjects so labeled are inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science.[4] Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating a “pseudoscience” normally reject this classification.

    As it is taught in certain introductory science classes, pseudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific or whose proponents state is scientific but nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement of the scientific method.[5] Professor Paul DeHart Hurd[6] argued that a large part of gaining scientific literacy is being able to distinguish science from pseudo-science such as astrology, quackery, the occult, and superstition.[7] Certain introductory survey classes in science take careful pains to delineate the objections scientists and skeptics have to practices that make direct claims contradicted by the scientific discipline in question.[8]

    Beyond the initial introductory analyses offered in science classes, there is some epistemological disagreement about whether it is possible to distinguish “science” from “pseudoscience” in a reliable and objective way.[9]

    Pseudosciences may be characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development.


  2. A couple of things;

    Firstly, your comment popped up at around 2:44pm, which by my calculations makes it 6:44am on a Saturday morning, very early indeed. My theory is you got up early to watch the Rugby. I know this because your son ducked out of the office ‘for lunch’, headed to the nearest pub and caught the second half. I am learning the Lawrence ways indeed!

    Secondly, I hope you properley reference your source material in your lesson plans, is wikipedia a pseudoencyclopedia?



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