Phil Is Flawed: Groundhog Day’s Startling Lack of Evidence

Posted by The Evidence Blog on February 2, 2017

Groundhog_1200.jpgWe at Hayes are on the lookout for bad science, no matter what the setting. Every year, we sat quietly on the sidelines while throngs of admirers gathered at Gobbler’s Knob to witness the ever popular Punxsutawney Phil’s powers of prognostication.

But we decided, in the name of evidence and the scientific method, that we would remain silent no more. We reached out to Phil’s representatives in an attempt to discern the methodology he employs to make such bold and confident predictions about winter weather patterns. What we found out might surprise you. Excerpts from the conversation follow below.

Hayes: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. We’ll get right to the point. What methodology does Phil employ to predict whether or not we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter?

Punxsutawney Phil’s Reps (PPR): I’m sorry?

Hayes: For example, our company offers unbiased health technology assessments based on the critical appraisal of the body of peer-reviewed, published literature. Does Phil apply any scientific rigor in order to verify the accuracy of his results?

PPR: Phil’s a groundhog.

Hayes: Technically, he’s a marmot. But is there anything he uses other than just an observational, empirical method to determine if we’ll experience an early spring? What does he do to remove bias from the equation?

PPR: We take him out of the box, pretend he says something in our ear, and put him back.

Hayes: Oh. So there’s no evidence-based practice involved? No analysis of the research of weather patterns, planetary axial tilt, or seasonal variants?

PPR: Yeah, no.

ResearchAnalysis_1200.jpgAt this point in the interview, we offered to support any initiatives to legitimize Phil’s yearly forecasting by coaching them in scientific methodologies and determining high-quality evidence, but our connection dropped and we were unable to reach them again.

Don’t be like Phil. Evidence is crucial to the delivery of care and coverage policy determination. If you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for? Click below to view a sample report and see what a subscription to the Hayes evidence solution can do for you!

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Topics: Hayes Blog

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