8 February, 2016
“Weather sticks will tell you what the weather is doing,” brags the manufacturer of the Davis Hill Weather Stick. It’s not that they’re necessarily wrong – it’s made of a balsam fir branch and part of the trunk. The fibers in the wood on one side of the branch contract or expand as the relative humidity in the air changes, causing the stick to bend up or down. It’s just that you can get a digital hygrometer for about the same price without nailing a stick to the side of your house.
As reviews of a competing weather stick show (this one with “extra” “quotation” “marks” has the best title) the Weather Stick engages the same anti-intellectual reflex that some have toward scientific progress. “Love watching the weather stick,” says one. “Better than weather man who is never right,” adds another. If you think I’m exaggerating, this guy (in a review of a third brand of Weather stick) claims that the stick itself improved the weather.
The idea that that world has passed you by is frightening to everyone. The first time a child buzzed by me on an electric scooter, wearing a shirt covered in emojis, and called me a “fuckboy,” I was taken aback. But I didn’t nail a stick to my house and start calling climate-change scientists “warmies.”