The Cone Of Uncertainty

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=ice+cream+cone&iid=3064466″ src=”″ width=”234″ height=”301″ /]Last night on the Weather Channel, the forecaster was discussing an impending hurricane. He used a term that startled me to hear.     

In describing the triangular area on a forecast map that was designed to show the potential track and landfall areas of the storm he used the term Cone Of Uncertainty. Hearing him speak those words made me realize it is time for me to make a revelation.     

The Revelation


I have been in the forefront of uncertainty science for years. Long ago, I realized that if I could harness and focus uncertainty for my own purposes I could more easily achieve world domination.     

The Cone Of Uncertainty as depicted by The Weather Channel.


Hearing the Cone Of Uncertainty referred to on The Weather Channel has forced my hand a little. I would have preferred waiting to make this revelation. Unfortunately, I will have to make my announcement now to preserve the name of The Cone as my own.     

Ladies and gentlemen, through my research, I have perfected my own Cone Of Uncertainty.     

I’ll pause here and let you gather yourselves before I go on.     

You’re Bluffing!

Have I mentioned that it is really irritating when you make that sort of accusatory interjection when I am writing? Well, it is. I’d appreciate it if you stopped doing that.     

It really isn’t my style to make this sort of announcement like some sort of movie mad scientist. As tempting as it would be to just appear on the television screens of all the world’s leaders at the same time and extort a bunch of cash from them I am not going to do that. Instead, I am going to direct your attention to a few high profile public examples where I have deployed my Cone Of Uncertainty.     

Behold The Power Of Uncertainty.

A few weeks ago, a perfect game was nearly pitched in Major League Baseball.  For those who are not baseball fans, let me explain that a perfect game is exceedingly rare (a 1 in 75,000 chance). At the last possible moment, a bad call by an umpire took that rarity from the pitcher who earned it. How do you explain a veteran umpire missing a routine call like that? That is a question that has been asked but not adequately answered for weeks. Now I will reveal the truth.     

Here is a video of the end of that game, the play to watch starts at the 1 minute mark.     

Observe –     

Amazing, isn’t it? The ball clearly arrives before the runner. Everyone but the umpire sees that, even the runner is stunned! What happened? Uncertainty Science, my friends. I activated the Cone Of Uncertainty to demonstrate its power.     

I am especially proud of this demonstration of The Cone. Did you see the pitcher’s reaction? A bemused, almost placid smile. Normally an officiating error like this would lead to an eruption of frustration. Caught in the beam of the Cone Of Uncertainty, the player is not even sure he was on the verge of history. The beam of my Cone is that precisely focused. The pitcher and the umpire were the only uncertain people in the building.     

But wait, there’s more.     

The Power Of The Cone Goes International

I decided that my next display of the power of The Cone should be on a much larger stage.  There is no larger stage than the World Cup. So, I looked for the right moment. Sadly, that moment had to fall upon England.     

The Brits push up the pitch toward the German goal, I activate the Cone of Uncertainty. Frank Lampard kicks a winner. The entire planet sees a goal. Well…the entire planet, minus one man. The one man who had to make the goal official.     

England, I’m sorry. For what it is worth, the Americans got their lunch money taken from them by Ghana. Ghana! Ghana didn’t even need help from my invention.     

I’m sure each of you sees the power and the potential benefits of my invention. I assure you that I will (in general) use The Cone Of Uncertainty for good and not evil.   

I am also willing to use it for the benefit of all my readers. Be sure to let me know in your comments how Uncertainty Science and my Cone Of Uncertainty can work for you. I will get back to you with a cost estimate.   

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22 Comments on “The Cone Of Uncertainty”

  1. Abe's Blog says:

    I think that you are onto a fantastic invention. And although the weather report depicted “the cone” on a television screen, they did not, in fact, invent a feasible prototype. So this could still work. Just don’t point it at me!

  2. HippieCahier says:

    >>I assure you that I will (in general) use The Cone Of Uncertainty for good and not evil. <<

    Brilliant use of parenthetical meta-uncertainty. (What did she say?)

    I wish I could view the videos from work. Will also ponder how I can benefit from your marvelous invention. Are you preparing your Pulitzer acceptance speech? This is bound to fit into some category or other.

    • omawarisan says:

      Oh I am sure you can think of some way that weakening the certainty and resolve of your rivals can be of some benefit.

      I’m going to press for a Nobel after I use Indecision Science to bring peace to the Middle East. Imagine yourself in the seat of power of a Middle Eastern nation of your choice. The leader is raging…

      “Death to the… (insert a sort of laser beamish sound here)…well, death is such a strong statement. Perhaps if we had them over for dinner and kicked some solutions around we could come to some sort of agreement.”

  3. Roger's Place says:

    I think you have been using/testing that Cone of Uncertainty for a long time, in politics for the past 40 years, in economics, and in my life.

    Please invent a Cone of Certainty at your soonest available time.

    Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this matter.

    Yours Truly,


    • omawarisan says:

      I’m working on some sort of cover for the wide end of the cone. With that in place I can turn the cone backward and create certainty.

      Right now, I can’t find anything strong enough to protect me from the ray when I turn the cone backward. I fire it and become completely unsure why I am bothering to create certainty.

  4. pattypunker says:

    could you activate that cone of uncertainty on this dead end corporate america job of mine? i’d like my reality to be moped shop owner in the carribean. kthanksbye.

    • omawarisan says:

      Ok, here is the plan. Let me know when you are going to make the proposal to management. Text me as you are wrapping up what you are going to tell them. I will fire a blast just as they are coming out with the inevitable no. Go on the attack when they pause and their eyes glaze slightly.

      I know, their eyes are already glazed. Look for more glaze.

  5. I hadn’t heard of the cone of uncertainty, but you have nicely described it’s near universal applicability. What we now need is a fancy term for that point when the cone reverses from uncertainty to “oh shit” certainty. So if you are in the Weather Channel’s cone of uncertainty, you will anxiously await news of the narrowing of the cone and either breathe easy or panic as appropriate. I am reminded of Monday morning staff meetings of yore which we called “Blame Time.” Everyone was in the cone of uncertainty until the boss cast his beady eyes on some poor sucker, the cone narrowed like a laser beam and someone took a bullet for the team. Such an elegant concept needs some fancy terminology.

  6. queensgirl says:

    Aw! What did poor Armando Galarraga ever do to you?

  7. spencercourt says:

    “Cone of uncertainty” as a term is very specific to hurricanes. A more “generic” term would simply be “variance.” There is almost always “variance.”

    When your pocket Aces lose to the donkey who shoves all-in with 7-2 off-suit, that’s “variance.” Your probability of winning was somewhere near 85%. But the donkey hit the 15% “variance.”

  8. jammer5 says:

    The only “Cone of Uncertainty” I know is when I get up at three in the morning and try to hit the commode. I believe, from the evidence in the morning, my variance runs the requisite 15% . . . maybe 85% on a bad attempt.

  9. jammer5 says:

    6/30/10 I am writing my own evaluation at work. Apparently I am some sort of genius.”

    Dude, I did that and they docked my a buck an hour. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned those nine martini lunches 😦

  10. Pie says:

    I would’ve asked for the cone of uncertainty to work against the Germans on that match with England if the clock could’ve been turned back, but Germany have been so good this past fortnight that I should ask you to work that magic against England again if they play Germany in four years time (assuming they qualify!).

    I clicked on your YouTube link for that baseball game, as a person with no understanding of it whatsoever, but got a message saying it’s no longer available because of copyright blah, blah, blah. Some of these people really are killjoys.

    • omawarisan says:

      Pie…here is a link that hopefully will stick

      Essentially, the ball had to arrive in the players glove before the man running to the base for that man to be called out. That out would have given the pitcher the rare perfect game.

      Despite the mistake, it was a moment of grace by the player who maintained his composure and the umpire who later admitted his mistake.

  11. Betty says:

    I had never before heard of the “cone of uncertainty” until this post of yours. Last night, the local tv meteorologist mentioned it and then went off on a rant about what a stupid term it was. Before that, I kind of thought you might have made it up just to post the photo of the cat with the ice cream cone.

    • omawarisan says:

      I was so happy to find that cat picture. It has nothing to do with anything, but it doesn’t need a caption to fit!

      This is the first year I’ve heard them using that term. All the cool meteorologists are using it.

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