My late father-in-law used to say, when a bug hit the windshield, “I bet he won’t have the guts to do that again.” Obviously I’m not talking about that kind of experience. (More)

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What got me to thinking about experience was the weather. I’ve been in Florida a couple of weeks and it hasn’t rained at all. Previously I came to the same part of Florida numerous times for business and the locals told me that there was a thunder storm every day in the late afternoon. Up until now, I was reliably informed by my experience that it did indeed rain every afternoon. I was missing the wet season/dry season distinctions.

I also traveled to Seattle for business. I remember sunny, glorious days with the mountains clearly visible. My hosts took me boating on Puget Sound. My ‘experience’ of Seattle is of a warm, sunny place with great people.

Seattle’s weather reputation as rainy and gray doesn’t match my experience or the complete meteorological records.

Despite being on the margin of the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the city has a reputation for frequent rain. This reputation stems from the frequency of precipitation in the fall, winter, and spring. In an average year, more than 0.3 mm (0.01 in) of precipitation falls on 150 days.

Surprisingly, Seattle proper was not listed in a study that revealed the 10 rainiest cities in the continental United States. … Seattle receives the largest amount of rainfall of any U.S. city of more than 250,000 people in November, and is in the top 10 through winter, but is in the lower half of all cities from June to September. Seattle is in the top 5 rainiest U.S. cities by number of precipitations days, and it gets the least amount of annual sunlight of all major cities in the lower-48 states. Thunderstorms are rare; the city reports thunder on just seven days per year. By comparison, Fort Myers, Florida reports thunder on 93 days per year, Kansas City on 52, and New York City on 25.

Did you notice the 93 days of thunder a year in Florida? Me too. Florida is a big state though.

Experience can be like snapshots that reveal that a couple of times in my life I had really bad hair days. Clearly with the hair, I have other photos with okay hairstyles, okay but dated in some cases. Experience is an unreliable predictor of many things beyond the weather. I know this intellectually but my experiences are imbedded in my memory in a way that just the facts are not.

I think this is but one more reason why story tellers are much more powerful shapers of our culture than statisticians, although we do need them both. Experience may not always be the best teacher.