"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best Blog Entries 2008

I'm more than a little pleased that one of my contributions has been selected for inclusion in "The Open Laboratory: The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2008", the third edition of this publication.

Alas, it won't drive much traffic here, as it was on the late, lamented Correlations blog.

It isn't entirely polished, so I am happy I get an editorial pass at it before it goes to print.

Here it is in case you missed it the first time: The Third Branch of Science .



thingsbreak said...

Congratulations on that. What happened with Correlations, btw?

Michael Tobis said...

The TV show got cancelled.

You may wonder why that means the blog was cancelled. The short answer is that TV people think the way TV people think.

It was an interesting experience meeting them.

The long answer requires beer (which in your case also requires me finding out who you are; Eli will confirm that I can keep a secret). I will go so far as to say that the show itself and Correlations as well suffered from the sorts of problems that make the professional media what they are. I promise that PBS is not immune.

I still think there is room for a collaborative outreach blog somewhere.

King of the Road said...

Interestingly, I correspond sporadically with a professor of physics (Rhett Alain) at Southeastern Lousiana University who has a blog that I enjoy at: http://blog.dotphys.net/. His main interest is in physics education - his blog is at a very elementary level but is a lot of fun.

In any case, he has the opposite viewpoint, in a sense. He also believes there is not third branch of science but he categorizes modelling as theoretical rather than experimental.

If you look at his post at:http://blog.dotphys.net/2008/10/basics-numerical-calculations/ he provides a link to a letter he wrote about it to the American Journal of Physics.


Michael Tobis said...

I think the story I told showed what we in the climate biz call a numerical experiment. In a sense, since all models are wrong (but some are useful), the model that there are two branches of science is wrong but useful.

Computing allows us to explore such complex ramifications of such messy theories (the climate of a planet will never be a neat system) that it feels more like experimentation than like theory.

One point I was trying to make is that predicting the future is not actually the only purpose of climate models, and in the minds of the experimenters it isn't even the primary one.