Masters of Uncertainty
Weather Forecasters and the Quest for Ground Truth
The University of Chicago Press 2015
Phaedra Daipha’s thoughtful new book uses a careful sociological study of a particular community of weather forecasters to develop a sociology of decision making. Based on fieldwork conducted over five years at a local office of the National Weather Service, Masters of Uncertainty: Weather Forecasters and the Quest for Ground Truth (University of Chicago Press, 2015) develops a theory of decision making as a habitual, practical, social activity shaped by particular contexts of action. In addition to working closely with (and contributing substantively to) pragmatist philosophy and theoretical STS, Masters of Uncertainty also offers a thick and fascinating description of the practices and local environments of a community of artisan-practitioners charged with creating a kind of object–a weather forecast–that many of us consume regularly. After developing a sociological theory of decision making within the context of this case study, Daipha concludes the book by testing the theory in two other fields: finance and medicine. This is a compelling and clearly-written account that will be of interest to sociologists, STS scholars, and general readers alike!