The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
28-06-2015, 05:01 PM (This post was last modified: 28-06-2015 05:07 PM by tear151.)
The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
I'm a physics student, and my little cousin asked me how stars work, I told her it was very complicated so I told her to let me think so I could come up with a way to explain to her without lots of complicated words and gave her an explanation where I explained atoms to her in terms of lonely people stuck inside bubbles who need to get really excited (hot) to break through the bubbles and live with their friends, and when that happens they get really happy and give off light and happiness ( again heat) which encourages other molecules to go fast and try to live with their friends too, it took more explaining than that and it was obviously grossly oversimplified and I did make it clear to her that there weren't actually little people inside them and that was just a way for her to understand it, but in she grasped the basic concept of the atom in this manner and applied that to stars.

Now this is basically wrong isn't it, but it's still useful, so I'd like to spark a discussion about over simplifications and when their wrong, and when they're useful to the public. Or just the general statement

"when it comes to public communication of specialist knowledge, we should focus on what is useful rather than what is correct"

"A witty quote means nothing"
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 05:19 PM (This post was last modified: 28-06-2015 05:24 PM by DLJ.)
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:01 PM)tear151 Wrote:  ...
"when it comes to public communication of specialist knowledge, we should focus on what is useful rather than what is correct"

That way lies superstition and religion.

"Grandma's in heaven, darling, and we will all join her later and be happy together"

George Box Wrote:"All models are wrong but some are useful".

Now it would be very remarkable if any system existing in the real world could be exactly represented by any simple model. However, cunningly chosen parsimonious models often do provide remarkably useful approximations. For example, the law PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an "ideal" gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules.

For such a model there is no need to ask the question "Is the model true?". If "truth" is to be the "whole truth" the answer must be "No". The only question of interest is "Is the model illuminating and useful?".

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 05:29 PM
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:19 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(28-06-2015 05:01 PM)tear151 Wrote:  ...
"when it comes to public communication of specialist knowledge, we should focus on what is useful rather than what is correct"

That way lies superstition and religion.

"Grandma's in heaven, darling, and we will all join her later and be happy together"

George Box Wrote:"All models are wrong but some are useful".

Now it would be very remarkable if any system existing in the real world could be exactly represented by any simple model. However, cunningly chosen parsimonious models often do provide remarkably useful approximations. For example, the law PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an "ideal" gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules.

For such a model there is no need to ask the question "Is the model true?". If "truth" is to be the "whole truth" the answer must be "No". The only question of interest is "Is the model illuminating and useful?".

Yes that's exactly what I'm talking about, how much whole truth can we take away before we are simply wrong? The grandmas in heaven example is a bit different, it's useful because it provides emotional comfort, I'm talking about useful in that it gives a basic idea of the truth.

A more relevant example would be PV=NRT (I miss that equation after going into fluid dynamics)

"A witty quote means nothing"
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 05:35 PM
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:01 PM)tear151 Wrote:  "when it comes to public communication of specialist knowledge, we should focus on what is useful rather than what is correct"

Utilitarianism is a slippery slope. It can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 05:39 PM
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:29 PM)tear151 Wrote:  ...
The grandmas in heaven example is a bit different, it's useful because it provides emotional comfort, I'm talking about useful in that it gives a basic idea of the truth.
...

Then, there's you answer.

There must be a threshold beyond which the model strays into untruth.

Teach the models and the methodology so that your young pupils can spot that threshold.

Thumbsup

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 05:45 PM
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:39 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(28-06-2015 05:29 PM)tear151 Wrote:  ...
The grandmas in heaven example is a bit different, it's useful because it provides emotional comfort, I'm talking about useful in that it gives a basic idea of the truth.
...

Then, there's you answer.

There must be a threshold beyond which the model strays into untruth.

Teach the models and the methodology so that your young pupils can spot that threshold.

Thumbsup

Exactly, I'm just curious to discuss some rules and boundaries for how far it can stray, how much something can omit, I'm not a teacher I'm a student. I'd be curious to see people try to give "Rules" on model making.

"A witty quote means nothing"
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-06-2015, 06:07 PM
RE: The difference between incorrectness and oversimplification
(28-06-2015 05:45 PM)tear151 Wrote:  ...
Exactly, I'm just curious to discuss some rules and boundaries for how far it can stray, how much something can omit, I'm not a teacher I'm a student. I'd be curious to see people try to give "Rules" on model making.

Well, given that the context here is 'communication' the key (if you like, Rule #1 for communication) is to 'know your audience'.

The younger or more gullible / innocent your audience, the more one has to simplify.

There is no point talking about clearly defined boundaries and constraints for a model to a 5 year old.

Notice Obama's eulogy recently... he used the god-model (and a noticeable Southern accent Big Grin ) to get his points across. That approach would not work for an audience of scientists.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: