Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Thought of the Day: “All Models are Wrong, but some are Useful” – George E. P. Box

without comments

While this was written in the 1987 book, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces (and discovered by me today in the Economist Espresso App), which focused on statistical model building, its pragmatic message has much truth: the value of a model is how well it can be used in context.

A 4-year old doesn’t need to know Einstein’s theory that gravity is a bend in the fourth dimension to understand that gravity is what causes them to fall and skin their knee.   Even most engineers only need to understand Newton’s model of gravity to keep skyscrapers from falling.  Yet, Newton’s model of gravity is not sufficient for understanding much of astronomy.   And there is a question today if Einstein’s model is sufficient for understanding the nanoscopic, or whether we need a model with gravitons to do that…

If something that seems as simple as gravity needs to have models that are complex to our human minds for different contexts, it should not be a surprise if many things we encounter in our lives might be the same.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 22nd, 2015 at 11:59 am

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