Talk:Scientific modelling

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The heading says "modelling", the article says "modeling". I think this should be consistent. As far as I know this is a discrepancy between American/British English? Are there any Wikipedia guidelines on this sort of situation? Eriatarka (talk) 14:07, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

You are right. This problem started 2.5 years ago, when User:Nobbie on 21 January 2006 moved the article "Scientific modeling" to "Scientific modelling" claiming more neutral spelling (both BrE and AmE). Now I don't know what is right or wrong. I do think this inconsistency isn;t right. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 22:10, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
I came to this page to answer that very question. Merriam-Webster seems to accept either. . Google has 100M hits for "modeling" and only 40M hits for "modelling". However, many of the hits for the former are related to being a model (as in a fashion model), while pretty much all the hits for the latter are related to scientific modeling. So based on that, at least, "modelling" seems preferred. Jbradfor (talk) 16:15, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
It is an interesting point of view, and made me wonder. So I just did some checking myself in This gave me:
  • 11.669 about modeling
  • 7.700 dbout modelling
  • 648 over "scientific modeling"
  • 614 about "scientific modelling"
Especially the last two number of hits seems remarkable. Both terms seems equal in use. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 18:23, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
I think you'll find most native English speakers, i.e., those in the U.S., would use one l - modeling, modeler, etc., while the minority of English speakers, i.e., those who speak "UK" English, would use the double l. Since this is Wiki, no doubt the double l crowd will win as they seem far more insistent that their's is the "correct" way. Jmdeur (talk) 20:56, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
p.s. it's interesting that today "modeling" with google generates about 300 million hits vs. only about 30 milllion for "modelling" - at least in non-Wiki use, U.S. English would appear to be gaining ground. Jmdeur (talk) 21:00, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Would you like the UK to change its name as well, maybe "Grate Brittane" would that make you happy as you mount your bizarre campaign against England across various pages. And to correct you - the most common form of English in use is set to become so called "Chinglish" or "Singlish", as people in China and the Far East adapt the language to use as their common second tongue - so get your facts right before your stupid comments. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Modelling is the British spelling, Modeling is the American spelling. The main problem is inconsistency - I have changed everything to Modelling, only because the current title sais "modelling". If Wikipedia endorses either type of spelling system, things should be changed accordingly, but in a consistent manner.

A list of types of Scientific modelling[edit]

The next list is in a recent change rather ("vernaggeld") made invisable (some google-rates have been added, with term written with "l"//"ll"):

  1. Climate modelling - 424.000 // 301.000
  2. Data modelling - 1.650.000 // 636.000
  3. Ecological modelling - 183.000 // 543.000
  4. Economical modelling - 365.000 // 493.000
  5. Climate modelling - 424.000 // 310.000
  6. Futures studies
  7. Geologic modelling
  8. Graphical modelling
  9. Hydrographical modelling
  10. Hydrological modelling
  11. Hydrogeological modelling
  12. Mathematical modelling
  13. Medical modelling
  14. Meteorological modelling
  15. Modelling in Epidemiology
  16. Modelling of scientific inquiry
  17. Molecular modelling
  18. Ocean modelling
  19. Policy modelling
  20. Simulation
  21. Software modelling
  22. Statistical modelling
  23. Stochastical modelling
  24. System dynamics

This list represents the titles of some 40 magazines about scientific modelling which offer all kinds of international forums. And every item in this list has an link to the place were more information can be found. - Mdd 14:02, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

The original listing back[edit]

Now this list was undressed for what reasons, but I restored it. This was not a see also section, where a list is given from all items in Wikipedia related to the subject. This is a lst of existing forms of scientific modelling in reality. Maybe I should have explained this better. However recently I started transforming this listing into text.. and I have got any further yet. I hope I have explained my actions. - Mdd 14:12, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

please see Wikipedia:Piped link#Use. The purpose of piped links is NOT to provide uniformity in a list. It is to allow an in-text link to fit grammatically into the sentence. The article include several that have little or nothing to do with scientific modelling. DCDuring 15:27, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

I have read every word of the Wikipedia:Piped link#Use, and it doesn't forbit what I did. And you are trying to turns things around here. This is a list of forms of scientific modelling... which I originally extracted from reality. I used the piped link to show, what Wikipedia has to offer about every type of modelling.

Now as I said, I'm in the process of writting a section about every type of modelling. If you state that several types have little or nothing to do with scientific modelling, I am very interested. Above is a list of 24 types. Could you tell me which types you mean and why? - Mdd 18:02, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

The listing of types of scientific modelling[edit]

I started adding some google rates at the types of scientific modelling, which gives a first indication about how notable these subjects are. - Mdd 13:37, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Maybe methodological moddeling should be added as well. Not necessarily by that term, but something like this is missing. Definition of Methodological modelling by Ader, Mellenbergh and Hand (2008): indicates the subsequent activities of (i) translating a substantive research problem into the specification of a class of statistical models (the model space M), (ii) selecting the most relevant subset S C M of statistical models (statistical modelling), and (iii) Interpreting S in terms of the research problem. If this would be incorporated in the page there would also be room to speak about things as Model Search, Fitting of a model, the EH algorithm, etc. Or do you think all this belongs somewhere else? Please excuse any beginner mistakes, I'm new to wikipedia. TesseUndDaan (talk) 22:28, 1 December 2008 (UTC)


Plagiarism!? At least in the "Overview" section, most of the text seems lifted directly by the paper "Modelling as a Discipline" by Silvert (2000). However, a citation only comes at the end of the section. No time to fix, but if anyone's able, it's on the to-do list. (April 11 2007) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. At the moment there are two references in this section. These two references indeed confirm you suggestion. The problem here is not so much, that that Silvert is referenced, but that no more sources are referenced to. This is a problem which often occurs in Wikipedia articles that are just a beginning. I will try to fix this soon. -- Mdd (talk) 10:11, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Although you do have a point, I want to respond to question if here there is a case of plagiarism. I have a few things in response.
  • "..most of the text seems lifted directly by the paper...". The text is available on line an anyone can check that this text is no directly lifted, but rewritten into the general introduction that fits this Wikipedia context.
  • A lot of similarities remain because both texts have the same purpose to give a general introduction on scientific modelling.
  • I have selected this particulair text out of the dozends of books and articles I read about this subject.
But as I stated before, this article is still in a premature state. And I am going to work on that. Last but not least. I don't know if one could call this situation a type of plagiarism in the first place, because the source is clearly mentioned, the text is clearly rewritten, and it is only a general introduction of known knowledge. Not some bright original ideas which are completely copied here. In Wikipedia we have rules about copyright infringement. I will look into this some more. And I will rewrite the introduction some more sone. -- Mdd (talk) 14:11, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
P.S. See also Wikipedia:Copyright violations and Wikipedia:Citing sources
I am really happy that someone took the time to write an entry about modeling and collecting links to other resources. I think
MDD has done a good job on this and it has helped me. Nonetheless, I agree that this is a case of quite severe plagiarism,
especially as MDD does not seem to be William Silvert who owns the rights
on this together with the Journal where he published it. It is definitely not enough by any scientif standards to slightly
rearrange the order or exchange some words. In a thesis, this would lead to an immediate rejection and severe accusations.
The easiest thing to do is the following: start the introduction with
"Following Silvert (citation), modeling is ... "
and then just summarize his points on a more abstract level without using his words.
In such a situation it is a good idea to read the text to be cited, to close the book, and then write it up. This makes sure
that it is at the same time really a summary of the thoughts of someone else and something totally new. Also, the citation
at the beginning of the introdution (and not at the end as a mere 'find further information here'!)
makes it clearer that the following is based on the genuine ideas of somebody else. And yes, the formulation of a
text is the author's 'bright and original' contribution. Netzwerkerin (talk) 14:11, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I made two more references to Silvert in the introduction. If you don't agree, please refraise the text as you think is right. And two things:
  • This article is still in a premature state. There is a need for a lot more general introduction and specific text about general modelling topics.
  • Now the whole idea of Wikipedia is to create articles based on reliable sources. We are supposed to use the sources.
And further. First I don't understand the plagiarism claim. I still think this only applies to situations where the author claims to have written the whole text himselve and doesn't mention the sources he uses.
Second there is a very funny situation here, when you compare this situations to the standards for an article in a scientific journal. For these articles it is important to be original and to present your opinions based on your own original resource. Now the key rule in Wikipedia is "no original research". So in this article I can not comment directly on Siverts text. I can only add other opinions. Your not suppose to add your own interpretation. I think my interpretation is in the text I selected. This is as far as one can go here. The funny things is that every where that you look in Wikipedia you can acuse editors of beeing original or making plagiarism. And then one other thing, I am not the sole author of this article. I expect other people to work with me on this article, and generaly they do. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 15:38, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Examples removed[edit]

I removed the folowing examples.

    • Model of a particle: in a potential field. In this model we consider a particle as being a point of mass m that describes a trajectory modelled by a function x: R ? R3 given its coordinates in space as a function of time. The potential field is given by a function V:R3 ? R and the trajectory is a solution of the differential equation
 m \frac{d^2}{dt^2} x(t)  = - \operatorname{grad} V(x(t)).
Note this model assumes that the particle is a point mass, which is certainly known to be false in many cases where we use the model, e.g. when we use it as a model of planetary motion.
    • Model of rational behavior for a consumer. In this model we assume a consumer faces a choice of n commodities labelled 1,2,...,n each with a market price p1, p2,..., pn. The consumer is assumed to have a cardinal utility function U (cardinal in the sense that it assigns numerical values to utilities), depending on the amounts of commodities x1, x2,..., xn consumed. The model further assumes that the consumer has a budget M which she uses to purchase a vector x1, x2,..., xn in such a way as to maximize U(x1, x2,..., xn). The problem of rational behavior in this model then becomes one of constrained maximization, that is maximize
 U(x_1,x_2,\ldots, x_n)
subject to
 \sum_{i=1}^n p_i x_i = M.
This model has been used in model of general equilibrium theory, particularly to show existence and Pareto optimality of economic equilibria. However, the fact that this particular formulation assigns numerical values to levels of satisfaction is a source of criticism. But this is not an essential ingredient of the theory and again, the model is an idealization.
    • Myers-Briggs personality type. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a technique that claims to produce a representation of a person's preferences, using four scales. These scales can be combined in various ways to produce 16 personality types. Types are typically denoted by four letters — for example, INTJ (introverted intuition with extroverted thinking) — to represent a person's preferences. This model is claimed by CPP (formerly known as Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.) to produce a good predictor of a person's career and marriage partner preference. It should be pointed out, see [1], that there is considerable disagreement among psychologists on whether this assessment technique (and the implied idealized personality model) is of any value.
    • Model of political contagion. Some versions of this model are sometimes referred to as the domino theory. In the broadest possible terms, according to this model, political movements that take hold in one country are likely to spread to geographically neighboring ones. This model is surprisingly popular, although as it stands, it is extremely impoverished conceptually, saying nothing about the type of political movement, the degree of geographical proximity, the time scale at which these events take place, etc.

Further comment[edit]

These examples are removed because:

  • No of these items are examples of scientific modelling.
  • These examples aren't even examples of genaral types of scientific models, but a random list of some specific types of models. Wikipedia offers articles about hunderds of those items.
  • The article itselve gives a list of the more general types of scientific modelling

-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 15:19, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Bad Writing[edit]

This is the worst written Wikipedia page I've ever seen. Look at this sentence, for example:

"Attempts to formalize the principles of the empirical sciences in the same way logicians axiomatize the principles of logic use a descriptive interpretation to model reality."

That's as bad as the worst gobbledygook I've seen come out of marketing departments, law firms, and the government. Writing like that is unworthy of Wikipedia and (especially) of the sciences.

I'm a writer, not a scientist, and I came here to answer a simple question: what's the difference between a scientific model and a scientific theory? I searched the relevant pages and I still don't know. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:18, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to hear. I agree that one sentence doesn't make much sence to me also. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 12:11, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
Then you haven't read the page Atmospheric beast that I'm trying to kill. Said: Rursus 12:07, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Interpretation of models[edit]

Would it be appropriate to discuss how scientists generally view models as they describe the world? I have had this discussion with more than one layperson. What I mean to say is should we place more emphasis on the fact that all we work with are logical constructs, and the degree to which they predict the behavior of a system determine their usefulness, but quantifying the behavior of a system does not necessarily imply that you have actually explained the system.

An example might be the electron. No one can directly observe one, and so directly demonstrate its existence. However, we can say SUPPOSE there exists a thing which we will call an electron, and SUPPOSE it has these properties. Given these properties, what behavior would I observe in X situation? Then you set up the situation and compare measured and predicted results. After a while, we have developed a model of an electron that correlates with experiment so well that it is assumed that our model is a description of actual reality (I think this is a positivist view).

In my dealings with scientists, I've found that in general dealings, they apply a positivist view toward a lot of models (now I'm talking about ones that are generally agreed to be much more abstract than the electron example) such as electromagnetic fields. It is just simpler in day-to-day operations. However, if you try to pin a guy down, they generally start to squirm and acknowledge that they only accept the description for its ability to predict behavior, and won't go so far as to say that it is an actual explanation of reality.

I think it is important because this clarifies the role of modelling, and helps non-scientists understand how we can go from the plum-pudding model to the bohr model to more sophisticated models of atoms.

I may just start adding content, and if anyone has a problem, they can just edit or revert, though I would appreciate some collaberation

AndyHuston (talk) 13:22, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Hi, thanks for your interest. This article still needs a lot of work, but I think, maybe not in directly in the way you propose here. Wikipedia is not a forum to write about your own original thought. We try to collect data from reliable sources and represent them. So if you have a reliable source and text about "how scientists generally view models" then it is ok to write about this.
So if you want to add content, use reliable sources. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 13:42, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
I am aware that as written, this is original thought. I was just presenting a general direction for the article and an example to illustrate. It is just the talk page. Thanks for the advice, but I am not new to wikipedia. I'll get something together and throw it up in a while and see how everyone feels about it. AndyHuston (talk) 17:29, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
Ok. This was just my respons. Indeed this is a talkpage and you have asked the question: "Would it be appropriate to discuss how scientists generally view models as they describe the world?" Now I wonder if there is any study and publication about this subject at all?
For you maybe this is an interesting question how scientists view models? My main questions remain, how scientists define models? What different models they encounter? How do they use them? What general properties and behavior are suggested? If you are familiar with wikipedia you maybe noticed the recently the general article about model (abstract) has been eliminated. There is still, I think, very little general information about Scientific modelling or modelling in science, on wikipedia. The most simple questions haven't been answered yet. And why not? Maybe these simple questions are the most difficult to answer..!? -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 18:22, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Compatibility with Philosophy of science?[edit]

Intuitively (not a citable source), I got a real hard problem accepting Logical positivism because it's harsh matter-of-factual statements seems to imply that anything such as modelling is to be regarded as metaphysics and thereby unscientific/evil, since I'm a computer nerd (Nerd quota 93), it made me very angry. Of course, that's my impression, but what about other less political science philosophies? Said: Rursus 12:13, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

I forgot "cruel statements". Said: Rursus 12:15, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Scientific Modeling article as an overview of the Modeling Domain[edit]

Marcel, and all: Here are some thoughts on this article. There was a question, if this article provides an overview of the modeling domain. I believe, the article provides a good overview, and could be further improved.

  • It addresses the "What?" question by
    • defining Scientific Modeling as the process of creating Models;
    • defining Model as a certain representation of a system of entities, phenomena or processes.
    • providing several key related definitions
  • It addresses the "Why?" question (relating modeling and simulation; describing model as an complementary method for direct measurement and experimentation)
  • It addresses the "How?" question by providing links to different types of models and steps of the modeling process

Here are few suggestions to improve the article:

  • I suggest providing a stronger link to the concept of knowledge. We are saying that is an essential and inseparable part of all scientific activity. I would expect a clear answer to the question on "What are different forms of scientific knowledge?", wheather a 'model' is one of them, and what are other forms of scientific knowledge, that are not models. I do believe, that such subsection is very critical.
  • Address the "When?" question, by providing a subsection on the History of modeling, in the form of the essential timelines, to follow up on the statement that 'Modelling is a comparatively new area of activity involving the marriage of ideas from various disciplines[1]'
  • Address the "Who?" question by providing the link to the key persons who have contributes to the development of this domain.
  • The list of the key concepts related to modeling includes 'structure'. I suggest, that the concept 'behavior' is also added.
  • Review the paragraph related to the statement that "modeling is a substitute of direct measurement". I suggest some careful re-wording, as modeling in natural science usually leads to (and is validated by) direct measurements (of some phenomena, predicted by the model).
  • Some minor wordsmith-ing can improve the article, there are plenty suggestions above.
  • There is a section on Business Process Modeling, but it needs to be compelmented with (and contrasted to)
    • Modeling in Systems Engineering and
    • Modeling in Software Engineering needs to be addressed

Equilibrioception (talk) 17:31, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I agree this article can use a lot of improvement. I idea of further improvement has been to write a short introduction of every type of modelling mentioned in the "Types of scientific modelling" section, but have come to that yet.
In general I have found it hard to find reliable sources with a more general scope on this matter. I doubt you can speak of a Modeling Domain in science. The insights seems to be scattered all around. I must say I am impressed lately by the advanced insights in modeling in the field of software engineering. But the insights here focus mainly on the modeling of aspects of the software development process.
I think it would be nice to even have articles about "Modeling in Systems Engineering" and "Modeling in Software Engineering". And some outline of the field, as you suggested earlier. If you have some concrete things you want to change in teh article, I would say, just go ahead. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 22:36, 26 January 2009 (UTC)


Hi there,

THere is a problem for modelling and modeling on the english wikipedia... If I type, "Modelling" I get on the Model (person) page... but if I type "Modeling", I get into the Scientific modelling page... And as far as I know (but I'm not a native speaker) both modelling could be writen with one and two "l"... It's confusing... Do somebody have I idea to solve it ?

Thank's in advance, and thank's to wikipedia contributors which make it so efficient...

PhDam's —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dam s.vador (talkcontribs) 00:54, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Modelling and Simulation of Bakeries[edit]

I removed the follwoing section here:

Most bakeries work on a suboptimal level concerning utilization of devices, energy consumption and staff allocation. That results in “bottle-necks”, operation problems, and not achieving the best possible profits. In order to detect these suboptimal processes, it is advantageous to use virtual models. Once created, these models behave like the real system. Thus, they will provide a very detailed look on the production flows, and a powerful tool for production planning, which helps to find and eliminate inefficient production schemes and “bottle-necks”.<ref> Hussein, Walid Barakat; Hecker, Florian; Mitzscherling, Martin; and Becker, Thomas (2009), ''[ Computer Modelling and Simulation of Bakeries' Production Planning]'', in: International Journal of Food Engineering: Vol. 5 : Iss. 2, Article 8.</ref>.

This is about one very specific application of computer simulation, and hardly related to applying scientific modelling in general. -- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 21:50, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Article section(s) removed[edit]

Due to possible violation of copyright, see WP:Copyvio, I have removed one or more section of this article for now.

I apologize for all inconvenience I have caused here, see also here. If you would like to assist in improving this article, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get. Thank you.

-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 23:07, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Removed an incredibly bizarre (uncited) reference to sadomasochism, which read: Because "Modelling and Simulation" is frequently taught in male dominated undergraduate environments, this field of application is deliberately named "Modelling and Simulation", rather than "Simulation and Modelling", to avoid distractions which may arise due to any possible association with the negative connotations of S&M.[citation needed]. This adds nothing to the substance of the article, and is unsubstantiated.

RealityApologist (talk) 00:25, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Copied and pasted from various Wikipedia articles[edit]

This article or section appears to have been copied and pasted from various Wikipedia articles, possibly in violation of a copyright. This has occurred last year, May 11-13 2008, when I expanded this article.

I apologize for all inconvenience I have caused here, see also here. If you would like to assist in improving this article, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get. Thank you.

-- Marcel Douwe Dekker (talk) 23:09, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Copy-paste registration[edit]

-- Mdd (talk) 20:05, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Whole systems approach to everyday life and for education[edit]

I began the model approach as an alternative to the scientific method when I studied education because I found that the scientific method does not work for middle and high school science students because they do not have the years necessary to invest in collecting enough data points to prove, for instance, a weather hypothesis. Invariably their findings were wrong. (As it happens, the weather models don't do much better!)

Modeling allows a generalized picture where individual components are not so important as to collapse the entire model if a few of them are misconceived. Also the only way to conceptualize a whole picture of the surrounding environment, or a whole system World view, is through modeling. This is necessary to keep the more conceptual students interested enough to want to be scientists. I write about that on the wikiversity and in this paper, where I also cover concept mapping (which may not be as valuable as originally advertised).

This kind of model certainly exists, and is simple in comparison to the models described in the article, yet is still scientific. It is especially useful for describing the kinds of conditions under which we all function, such in as economic or political environment. Getting people to embrace valid concepts is necessary for a functioning democracy (despite what many elitists may say), so this simplified kind of modeling may potentially be more influential than highly complex modeling, especially since the scientific modelers have been failing miserably of late.

I am going to do some research to attempt to describe simpler modeling in psychology, for the same democratic purpose I mention above, so average people can grasp the neurological layers that influence their lives and surrounding surrounding environments, basically, to get the best from life. This relates to the constructivist "community of knowledge," but from a more emotional approach where emotion is a kind of exceedingly complex interactive information, or knowledge.

From this research I may be able to provide support for inclusion of simpler education-based and more "pedestrian" scientific modeling into the article.--John Bessa (talk) 00:57, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Some introductory text[edit]

Tell me what you think:

Models are meant be an abstraction or conceptualization of an environment solely meant to be beneficial. As such they predict behavior, and their merit usually lies in their ability to do so; they may be as large as the World's weather, or they may be as simple as a child's conceptualization of the world on the walk to school. Modeling is fundamentally different from the Scientific Method in that a model is a whole systems view where individual components are not so important as to collapse the entire model if a few of them are misconceived. Conversely the scientific method (from Aristotle) determines what is fact by linking hypothesis through proof and peer review to theory (which is fact), where any errors eliminate the hypothesis. The scientific method does not provide a pathway to knowledge construction, where the modeling approach begins with a generalized structure based on the vast set of givens that we use to describe the surrounding environment. A model is then extended experimentally with new ideas to further strengthen or expand it. If the inclusion of a new idea appears to give benefits, such as creating more profit as in a business model, then the model stays; if not, then out it goes! Logistical accuracy is not important, only an overall benefit from the use of the model. Since a model may produce benefits at its outset, risk is an acceptable part of innovation, where, hopefully, steps take backwards are far outnumbered by steps forward. With increasing benefits come exponential increases in opportunities to develop accuracy as the model quickly gels.
When limited to the Scientific Method, as most of "cold" science is, one is left adrift in a sea of facts developed (usually from funded studies or doctoral dissertations) that are usually detached and useless in of themselves. As the facts are connected, the scientific method is applied recursively to increasingly larger pieces preventing rapid construction and practical implementation in a useful time-frame. Many models are created as spaghetti structures of otherwise disconnected fact, and once implemented are difficult to modify and hence tend break with changing conditions or new conceptions. (This problem is paralleled in computer systems design, and is the strongest argument for objected-oriented approaches.) Further there is no environmental connection to the data, and hence a criteria for morality; the only criteria is that the data followed the method without respect for the environment in which the data was collected.--John Bessa (talk) 16:45, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Models and useful fictions[edit]

I think that the article can be improved by showing the reader where and why the act of making a model stands in relation to the creation of a theory.

In the West, many thinkers began with the assumption that humans see simply and directly what is going on. Unconsciously, early science was often based on analogies to human behavior. Humans go up trees because they want to (to get fruit, for instance). But smoke does not really go up because it wants to. Saying, "Smoke goes upward because that is what it wants/needs to do," models smoke behavior on human behavior.

The world often presents humans with situations that prompt us to make models. For instance, scientists discover that planets circle the sun. They ask themselves why the orbits are circular. They make a (mental or physical) model in which there is an anchor at the center (a physicist standing in his/her lab perhaps), a string, and a weight at the end. The spherical weight at the end of the string is a pretty good model for a planet. Swinging the weight around at the end of the string produces something very similar to a planetary orbit. But what, in nature, is the string? The model is helpful not only for helping us understand better what we already know from experience, but also for helping us ask further questions.

The essential change that occurred in Western science starting at about the time of Kant and Hume was the realization that the model is a creation of the human mind. A related idea is that successful theories are "useful fictions." The word "fiction" not only includes the idea of "not truth" or "not reality" but is appropriately also built on the root word meaning "to build." Models are creations of the workman in his shop. Fictions are the products of fiction writers. We are presumptuous when we make the easy assumption that because our model or our convenient fiction works we must therefore really know what is going on in the real world.

The lead of the article describes utilitarian models as we find them today, and it makes it appear that physics (and other parts of science) was here first, and models came along as an afterthought. So we have, e.g., climatology, we have equations, we have data, and then we make a model that predicts hurricanes or does something else that is really neat. But that description puts everything backwards. Humans started with storms and then realized that there were storm systems. They first built "models" (assume a set of boxes filled with air, each of which is heated on a variable basis by the sun...), then got equations to describe the interactions among the part of their models, then got in trouble with the real world because it did not perform as predicted, then made alterations to the math... It wasn't that we got a set of equations by some sudden insight and later decided to make models to show non-scientists how things work.

When humans got into quantum physics they discovered that the models we can build based on our everyday experience of ocean waves, rifle bullets, and the other elements of our common experiential world do not do a very adequate job of describing what is really happening. The map is not the territory. Humans create maps. Humans know the territory by means of maps. Tangential experiences of the territory force humans to modify their maps, but the distinction between map and thing mapped remains.

I'll see whether I can still find my copy of Philipp Frank's Philosophy of Science. It should be a good source for evidence on these points.P0M (talk) 22:24, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Freudenthal reference wrong???[edit]

I really liked the following description in the overview that is as well copied in the article of "conceptual models": "Attempts to formalize the principles of the empirical sciences, use an interpretation to model reality, in the same way logicians axiomatize the principles of logic. The aim of these attempts is to construct a formal system that will not produce theoretical consequences that are contrary to what is found in reality. Predictions or other statements drawn from such a formal system mirror or map the real world only insofar as these scientific models are true.[4]"

-> However, I checked the original reference and a "more acutal one" of 1961 and I really did not find this citation or even some fragments! Please give the correct reference!!! -- User: - 12:16, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
The reference to the source was rather incomplete, and I made a correction here. Now the text here is no citation, otherwise the text would be put in quotation marks. This source is only used as a reference. -- Mdd (talk) 16:13, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Etymology of "assumption"[edit]

I removed the following paragraph by User:Wingroras because it is off topic and interrupts the flow of the article. I suggest he/she posts it elsewhere, as it's still very interesting. (talk) 06:52, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

The term "assumption" is actually broader than its standard use, etymologically speaking. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and online Wiktionary indicate its Latin source as assumere ("accept, to take to oneself, adopt, usurp"), which is a conjunction of ad- ("to, towards, at") and sumere (to take). The root survives, with shifted meanings, in the Italian sumere and Spanish sumir. The first sense of "assume" in the OED is "to take unto (oneself), receive, accept, adopt.” The term was originally employed in religious contexts as in “to receive up into heaven,” especially “the reception of the Virgin Mary into heaven, with body preserved from corruption,” (1297 CE) but it was also simply used to refer to “receive into association” or “adopt into partnership.” Moreover, other senses of assumere included (i) “investing oneself with (an attribute), ” (ii) “to undertake” (especially in Law), (iii) “to take to oneself in appearance only, to pretend to possess,” and (iv) “to suppose a thing to be” (all senses from OED entry on “assume”; the OED entry for “assumption” is almost perfectly symmetrical in senses). Thus, "assumption" connotes other associations than the contemporary standard sense of “that which is assumed or taken for granted; a supposition, postulate” (only the 11th of 12 senses of “assumption,” and the 10th of 11 senses of “assume”) .