Too hot or too cold? A Slate debate over the least annoying temperature.

Slate Answers: Is It Better to Stand the Heat or the Cold?

Slate Answers: Is It Better to Stand the Heat or the Cold?

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Aug. 17 2017 8:00 AM
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Which Weather is Better?

‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold—Slatesters get icy over this temperature debate.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Thinkstock.
Would you rather be chilly or sweaty?

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Thinkstock.

Got a question for Slate staffers? Email questions@slate.com.

In January 2014, Matt Yglesias—then a correspondent at Slate’s Moneybox—took an ice-cold stance: Enduring extreme cold is better than extreme heat. The opinion prompted a heated retort from (his soon-to-be colleague) Ezra Klein, then at the Washington Post: “Matt Yglesias Is Wrong: It’s Way Better to Be Hot Than Cold.”

We decided to take the temperature of our current Slatesters and ask: Which kind of weather is better: Too hot or too cold? Why?

The Best Weather Is Too Cold!

Andrew Kahn, assistant interactives editor
Too cold is obviously better because you can usually add insulation to your body, but you can never remove it.

Torie Bosch, Future Tense editor
Cold, cold, cold, because hygge, hygge, hygge. When it’s hot out, I just sweat, sweat, sweat.

Jayson De Leon, Trumpcast producer
Too cold is better because you can do something about it. You can’t always get naked and walk around when it’s hot.

Osita Nwanevu, editorial assistant
You can dress in fashionable layers to warm up, while dressing down when it’s too hot is not universally flattering. Additionally, cold weather calls to mind fireplaces, hot cocoa or cider, snow, and Christmas, while hot weather calls to mind the fact that organized society may well collapse in the next hundred years or so.

The Best Weather Is Too Hot!

Ruth Graham, regular Slate contributor
Too much heat just makes you want to nap and drink lemonade, but too much cold makes you want to die.

Aisha Harris, culture writer and host of Represent
Better to be too hot. I’ve been to Vegas in July, Cairo in June, and a Savannah plantation in July. I still say I’d rather be too hot, mostly because I suffered through four miserable Chicago winters.

Heather Schwedel, copy editor
I’m a big proponent of summer over winter (even/especially in the Northeast). I love the mood that overtakes New York in the summer, when the city empties out and everything feels languid and hazy. I also prefer summer clothes—both wearing them and checking out fellow New Yorkers’ cutoffs, summer dresses, and shades while people-watching. Even when it gets super-hot—hot to the point of tipping over into uncomfortable—it’s still usually sunny and beautiful and life-affirming, which I can’t say for winter.

Rachel Withers, audio and editorial intern
When I was deciding whether to move from Melbourne to New York, my mother—in an attempt to keep me close—warned me, “You won’t like snow. It’ll be cold and wet. And miserable.” Well, you were right, Mum: Winter was very, very, very bad, if not unbearable. I’ll take Too Hot here in New York any day. (But I’ll take Too Cold back in Australia. It’s all relative.)

Evan Urquhart, comments moderator and Outward contributor
You can just lay around fanning yourself and engaging in minimal exertion, whereas if you’re too cold you have to keep moving around and can’t fall asleep or you’ll die. It’s awful.

Katy Waldman, staff writer
I’m talking about comparing the sensory experiences, and there is no comparison. One is physical pain and one is discomfort.

Before You Decide…

Marissa Martinelli, editorial assistant
Anyone who votes Too Cold should spend a week in the Scottish Highlands, then resubmit their answer.

Josh Keating, staff writer
Anyone who votes Too Hot should visit Iraq in July.

Henry Grabar, staff writer
Anyone who votes Too Cold should try the 14-day Antarctica expedition I took last year, or experience my hot-air balloon journey over Svalbard.

Andrew Kahn
Anyone who votes Too Cold should journey with me to the lowest layer of hell—furthest from god—where Satan eternally devours Judas, Brutus, and Cassius in his three maws.