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Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day 2015

The media report that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning (e.g. Angela Fritz's report with the title "Groundhog Day 2015: Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow, predicts six more weeks of winter" published in the Washington Post today).

Last year, one of Phil's cousins moved into our neighborhood. I was anxious to run my own study with our resident Phil.

Alas, that low-country marmoset did not show for his appointment. So I had to plant a substitute for Phil near his burrow entrance. Had he shown, he would have clearly cast a shadow at the moment I took the photograph below.


However, our cloud cover has been mixed this morning, and the sun was breaking through when I took the picture.


Minutes earlier or later, Phil may not have seen his shadow at all.


Even seemingly simple behavioral field observations may be wrought with fundamental confounds. Phil's timing represents a critical variable which must be controlled. Regardless, I will continue this tradition, because I am curious whether Phil's predictions will approach the odds of a coin toss over the years.
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