LRB · Joseph Stiglitz · The Non-Existent Hand

LRB · Joseph Stiglitz · The Non-Existent Hand.

One comment in particular rang a bell for me.

Often the use of a mathematical model is considered  as giving predictions greater credibility when all it really does is ensure that they are consistent with the assumptions of the model.

In areas of technology based on well established assumptions this may actually justify some faith in the predictions, but in scientific practice the role of the mathematics is more often not to establish the prediction but rather to pin down the blame for its failure, and so to discredit the faulty assumptions of an inadequate theory.

Perhaps more emphasis on this aspect in our instruction would help to diminish the mystified acceptance of arguments to the effect that “mathematics predicts that…”

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