Saturday, August 04, 2012


Some of my best memories from grad school are sitting in classes and listening to the impromptu musings of Brit Harris.  He may have been the first to refer to "gi-go" as "garbage in-gospel out".  Brit was a pioneer modeler of urban structure and he knew what he was talking about.

Post-2008, many people are taking a second look at macro-economic models.  Nevertheless, there is always the problem of people reporting their model results with a little too much enthusiasm.

Matt Ridley takes up the theme in today's WSJ, "How Bias Heats Up the Warming Debate."  He notes, "The late novelist Michael Crichton, in his prescient 2003 lecture criticizing climate research, said: 'To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global-warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models.... No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world—increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality.'"

Models are essential, but so is perspective.