Good Friday Change?

We explore all kinds of "events" that seem to be meaningful to large numbers of people. Nowadays, we do not make formal predictions in cases where experience suggests the chances of a substantial effect are small, or in cases where there the information is not available for a precise specification. But explorations are useful as precursors to formal assessments of event categories. We can learn from them if we are careful in our interpretations of results. Here is an example suggested by a correspondent named Ellen, who is interested in the potential collective effect of a special time on Good Friday.

I'm wondering if you've ever taken any special notice of Good Friday. Here's why I'm curious: When I was a child, raised Catholic and going to a Catholic school it was still in the days when everything closed for the 3 hours of "the passion and death" of JC. It was virtually impossible to not be thinking about the historical events of the day. I recall that as the years went by I came to expect that no matter what the weather was in the morning on Good Friday, by or at twelve the skies would cloud up. Sometimes it would storm. I'm not certain it wasn't my childish imagination that makes me think it happened every year, but it seems to me that that was so. Altho' I've looong not been Catholic I still note the weather each Good Friday afternoon and it seems that there are few years where this phenomenon doesn't happen. Even in these times when businesses stay open, etc. the day is still very strong in theconsciousness of the masses. I used to think that "God" made it happen. Now I can't help but wonder if it isn't the focus of concentration that actually affects our surroundings. Today's Good Friday, here in Milwaukee, and the weather was sunny til about 11:30, cloudy til a bit after 3:00 and then sunny again.

It is a useful exercise to do an analysis, partly to indicate what is needed to specify a hypothesis that can be tested. Ellen lives in Milwaukee, and sees a confirmation of the 3 hour change. But of course Christians live all around the world, and the 3 hour period she describes travels through the time zones. To make a test that corresponds to her experience, we would look at the data collected between, say, 11:00 and 4:00 Milwaukee time, (adding a bit on either side of the likely period) but to test the general hypothesis as described, we would need to look at data from many timezones. The figure shows the 24 hour UTC day, and the segment for Ellen's experience is marked. Because the GCP effect size is too small for single events, even powerful ones, to show up reliably in the data, we can't make strong interpretations. However, if we assume this sample is representative, we see an overall positive trend, which is impressively steady from 04:00 to 16:00. No statistically appropriate conclusion can be drawn, but this is consistent with a weak but widespread global consciousness effect.

Good Friday

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