Is an Old Man With Pig Spleens More Accurate than Doppler Radar?

In today’s world of high technology and focus on the future, every once in a while it’s refreshing to take a deep breath and return to the more natural ways of our ancestors.

pigThe secret lies within. Photo by Jim Champion

That’s why I’m advocating that the National Weather Service be replaced by an old Ukranian man and several pig spleens.

And if the man’s claims are to be believed, we’d actually get more accurate weather forecasts. Paul Smokov, an 84 year old cattle rancher from Steele, N.D., claims that he has forecasted the weather with 85% accuracy by observing the shape of pig spleens. The National Weather Service, with their millions in high tech equipment, is about 60% accurate.

Smokov may be the last pig spleen weather forecaster left in North America. The editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac said the only other spleen reader she had come in contact with had died in Saskatchewan, Canada last year.

Smokov learned the subtle art of spleen reading from his parents, Ukranian immigrants who arrived in the US in the early 20th century. With weather being so important to farmers, and a decades long lack of electricity at the family ranch denying radio forecasts, the family kept the practice of spleen forecasting alive.

Smokov says: “The spleens are 85 percent correct, according to my figures.” In regards to weathermen, he added: “Those guys aren’t any better.” As for this winter, Smokov said: “It looks like a normal year with no major storms. That’s what the spleens tell me.”

It’s the shape of the spleens that predict the weather. A spleen that’s wide where it meets the stomach, but then narrows, means a mild weather and early spring. A narrow stomach meeting point that widens suggests a harsh winter and cold spring. This year the spleens were of uniform thickness, meaning a normal winter. This matches what more scientific forecasters using Doppler radar and the latest technology are predicting.

Fortune telling using animal innards is known as haruspication. Ancient Greek oracles and fortune tellers were known to study the guts of birds to glimpse the future. This is probably not advisable today with all the bird flu going around, but there’s obviously a grand tradition of viewing animal innards as keys to the future. While you’re unlikely to catch me checking out pig spleens in my kitchen, I think it’s cool these sorts of things still survive in modern society. Besides, some days it seems like even scientific weather forecasts are just a technologically advanced form of fortune telling.

Obviously, it’s impossible to verify Smokov’s claims at the moment. Also, his predictions seem rather large scale, along the lines of “winter will be good” or “winter will be bad”, rather than “it will rain tommorow”. Despite that, I hope he keeps it up. Too many forms of folklore are dying out rapidly, and this one’s too interesting to lose.

Info via MSNBC

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