Monthly Archives: March 2011

On Ice, Sea Levels and Brain Models

Cross-posted as a long comment on WattsUpWithThat, on its post entitled Antarctic ice models “not correct,” sea level rise “complicated”:

This is the way of learning new things: At first (IMHO the first century or five) simplistic ideas pop into mind, and we think we have a basic understanding of a phenomenon, and later on we learn of complications that tell us we have to add complexity to our understanding.

It isn’t that we are stupid, but it IS because we think that the model we have conjured up in our heads matches the reality. And once the brain model takes form, it is that which we are seeing when we see the phenomenon’s evidence being unveiled over time – we color our perceptions by the expectations that we have about our brain model, that it will prove out to be correct. So we keep crowbar-ing the evidence to fit the model.Some of us will see the Emperor’s New Clothes and push for modification of the model/paradigm/construct, against some level of resistance by the rest. Progress does get made, but those brain models keep fighting for their very lives.

Continue reading