What’s real #3

Posted on August 15, 2011


What’s real? According to Hawking’s ‘model dependent realism‘ our models are the closest we get to reality. Our models consist of assumptions, beliefs and biases supported by selective – cherry picked – bits of evidence strained through our fallible senses.

One model of our models, created by Karl Popper, proposes that we construct three worlds.World 1 is  the physical world   consisting of stuff like rocks and genes. World 2 consists of psychological stuff like thoughts and feelings. And World 3  consists of abstract stuff like mathematics, maps and metaphors. Notice world three consists of the stuff we use to model the other two worlds. Science relies heavily on mathematical models to make sense of experience. The rest of us make sense of our experience by relying heavily on drawings,  maps and wordy stuff –  like metaphors and labels or stereotypes. For instance we explain someone’s behavior with labels or names like liberal, or conservative, or feminist, or atheist, or by blaming their  color. Or we blame their upbringing (their parents)  using the metaphor of  ‘how the twig is bent so grows the tree’ . Notice how these labels , or stereotypes  or models, simplify explanations by ignoring huge  individual differences  between feminists, or between conservatives or between blacks.

Recall that models are simpler than but, hopefully,  similar to what’s being modeled. But some models are so simple they throw out the baby with the bath water. Notice that phrase ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’ is a model of uncritical thinking or sloppy modeling.

Poppers’s three worlds model is one way that helps him make sense of experience – a meta-model that supposedly covers all types of experience.

We will propose even a simpler model that provides a basic building block – a  mini-model – that we believe can be used to help not only scientists but also citizens make sense of different kinds experience.

Posted in: Sciencing