Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

hate of the day: heat indexes

It's been a little toasty outside lately. This week's highs were around, oh, 107? 108? Which is a total pain if you have a fussy baby who's calmed down by going outside... you constantly debate if you want her to be angry or boiled. Upside though... it's good if you're a pilot of small non-airconditioned planes who can't fly at the moment, because you don't really miss sweating it out in weather like this :)

But I digress. Weather like this always brings up my favorite topic... the heat index.

I hate heat indexes. And for that matter, I hate wind chill too. I know people LOVE numbers because we love to quantify things, whether or not they should be quantified, but that doesn't make it right. We love the comparisons... "Where I live it felt like 115 outside!" "Well where I live it felt like 116!" As if you'll know the difference?

I hate it whenever anyone tries to quantify feelings, especially with scientific units. The "degrees" in a heat index or windchill make it seem like it's a temperature. It's not. Doctors ask us to rate pain on a scale of 1-10, and most people are annoyed enough with that, but at least that's just a scale of 1-10. Would the information be any more useful to them if you rated on a scale of 1-100?

Humidity makes you feel uncomfortable, but it doesn't make the air hotter. Wind can feel downright painful, but it doesn't make the air colder. Have you ever been outside on a 20 degree day with no wind and said to yourself, "This feels like a windy 30 degree day!" NO. Because they don't feel the same at all! You're assigning degrees to discomfort and it's pointless.

So I put heat indexes and wind chills in that "people are stupid" category, reserved for a world that loves its numbers but doesn't know what to do with them. People come up to me in the mall and ask how tall I am, because they're stupid. Managers ask what "percent complete" a report I'm writing is, because they're stupid. People try to figure out how much BP should be fined for every injured pelican in the oily gulf. You get me? When you can't scientifically assign a number to something, or have no scientific reason to assign a number to something, STOP. It doesn't matter. Just deal.
Tags: philosophy, ranting
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