Things I Know #3 was born of my ruminations on climate models and Anthropogenic Global Warming theory, but it certainly is not limited to climate science. It applies to all kinds of Scientific™ models.
Ok let's just get this out of the way right now. As I plow my way through Mr. Godwin's book, it's probably going to spawn some postings, and this is one of them.
He put it this way:
[scientists] forget that they are only using a simulated abstract model of their own invention, with no actual external referent. In short: "one begins by abstracting from concrete existence, and ends by attributing concreteness to the abstraction." - (Wofgang Smith)And
The properties we ascribe to our object of interest and the questions we ask about it reinforce the original metaphorical image and we miss aspects of the system that do not fit the metaphorical approximation. - (Lewotin)In other words, the model is incapable of showing us anything based on things we hadn't already assumed when we created the model. The model will tell us what we told it to tell us (whether absolutely true or not at all), and it won't take into account anything we didn't tell it to tell it to take into account (whether it is relevant or not.)
That was just too good not to bookmark for future reference.