Metamodel: a model that consists of statements about models.
This is a blog about the language, science, and philosophy of predictive modeling. The aim is to be more whimsical than polemical, and mostly non-technical. The discussions will generally be about climate models, which are arguably the most complex models ever built. But models from related fields will make a guest appearance now and then. The discussions will frequently venture beyond science because the prediction of long-term climate change is now so intertwined with the cultural milieu that it is impossible to discuss it within a purely scientific context.
As a climate scientist, I have worked with a variety of models for over three decades, ranging from very simple to highly complex. Every time you, your company, or your government plan for the future, you are relying on the output of models, whether or not you are aware of it. But models are imperfect abstractions of reality. You need to understand models to use them properly. You don’t need fancy mathematics or a massive supercomputer to understand models and their predictions. This blog will try to show that we can learn a lot from simple logical reasoning using basic physical and mathematical concepts.
Climate models are the essential tools used by IPCC for assessing our climate futures to help guide mitigation and adaptation. As statistician George Box observed, “all models are wrong; but some are useful.” It is only by analyzing how models are wrong can we figure out how best to use them. This blog will critically analyze climate and other models. The purpose of the critiques is not to diminish the serious threat of climate change, but to increase the efficacy of the urgent actions needed to mitigate it.
PS. This blog is also available on a static website for commenting: Metamodel.blog. You can also download individual articles or the whole blog as an eEbook from the website.
Why a blog?
Long-form blogs seem too passé in this age of short-form Twitter and Tiktok. But long-form articles are still important, because many complex issues cannot be discussed efficiently using a short format. At the other extreme, one can use the really long-format of a book to discuss the science and philosophy of modeling. But books are not free, they take time to read, and do not address current developments. Blog posts are free, relatively quick to read, and can address emerging issues.
There are a few climate blogs that are still around, but they are less active. Perhaps because climate denial has shifted from attacking the science to attacking the solutions. But models, climate and otherwise, continue to play an important role in climate solutions. There is perhaps still a role for a blog that discusses modeling and prediction.
The website metamodel.blog is the primary home of this blog. Keeping with current trends, posts will be announced on Twitter and you may also comment on posts by replying to the “official” announcement tweet. Due to algorithmic ranking, you may not see my tweets announcing new posts even if you follow me on Twitter. Also, not everyone is on Twitter, which in itself is currently in a state of flux. Therefore, all posts will be mirrored on substack.metamodel.blog to provide a free subscription option for those who prefer to receive posts via email.
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