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'The Ugly Truth'

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'Haven’t the Foggiest' weather quiz

VoYS members launched a weather quiz to address the misuse of meteorological terms in the media and in public discussion.

Image by MattysFlicks (CC BY 2.0) 

There is certainly no shortage of weather-related stories – it seems every winter will be “the coldest winter for 100 years”, headlines proclaim it will be “hotter than” somewhere like Africa, Australia, or Athens and we hear warnings of hurricanes hitting the UK. But Voice of Young Science members have become frustrated by the way weather is often presented in the media and in public discussion, and are concerned that misleading use of terms and exaggerated weather stories could be undermining public trust in meteorology.

To help address these issues, on Thursday 14th January, VoYS launched a short online quiz to challenge everyone to test their weather know-how and arm themselves with the facts to decipher what the next stream of weather stories really means.  

Warm up your weather small talk and take the quiz now:



The Mail Online published the VoYS 'Haven't the Foggiest' weather quiz on the front page of their science section: 

Carbon Brief published Andrew Barratt's blog: "Untangling fact from fiction in media warnings of extreme weather"

The University of Reading's Department of Meteorology posted a blog by VoYS member Georgina Glaser: "Talking sensible science when wondering about the weather"

BBC Radio Sheffield's Rony Robinson interviewed VoYS member Hana Pearce (from 1hr36)

The University of St Andrews Science magazine shared a blog by Georgina Glaser about the project:


Andrew Barrett, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading and VoYS member:

“There is a near constant stream of newspaper headlines about the weather, often they confuse their meteorological terminology and some significantly exaggerate the impact of upcoming severe weather. Rather than trying to respond to every story as it is published, I felt a need to help readers understand when their lives and property are in danger and when forecasts of extreme weather are being exaggerated.”

Chloe Moore, Interim Public Engagement Programme Manager, The Royal Meteorological Society:  

“Taking the quiz is a great, quick way for people to test their meteorological knowledge, which can sometimes be skewed by how the media portray a weather story.”

Georgina Glaser, School of Biology, University of St Andrews and VoYS member:

“Before contributing to this quiz, I really hadn’t realised the extent to which weather reporting is misleading. Having heard so many stories about hurricanes, I was particularly surprised to hear that one has never actually hit the UK.”

Joanne Thomas, VoYS Co-ordinator:

“Clear and accurate information about weather is important, so it’s fantastic to see early career researchers addressing misleading use of weather terms.”

 Hana Pearce, Institute of Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds and VoYS member:

“I'm really glad that VoYS are addressing misconceptions about meteorology in this campaign. Meteorology is a fascinating science that is now not only relevant to our small talk in the pub but links to wider global social and economic issues. I think it's really important that we all understand where our weather forecasts come from and, in particular, that we understand the uncertainties involved.”

Rob Thompson, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading and VoYS member:

“The weather forecast is an important decision maker for many people day to day, sometimes life changing decisions are made as a result of weather forecasts and associated warnings. But informing those decisions requires forecasts that are trusted by their audience, the use of unclear and misleading terms, or disreputable forecasts “muddy the waters”, making people less likely to react to serious and reputable warnings to make vital, potentially lifesaving decisions.”

VoYS pinboard

  • Top tip 1: Ask for Evidence. If you’re being sold a product or asked to believe a claim then you deserve to know whether it’s based on evidence – or imagination.

  • Top tip 2: Detox. It’s a marketing myth – our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets.

  • Top tip 3: Superfood. There is no such thing, just foods that are high in some nutrients.

  • Top tip 4: Cleansing. You shouldn’t be trying to cleanse anything other than your skin or hair.

  • Top tip 5: If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is.

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