Modeling Madness27 April 2009
Some people try to light a candle. Some people curse the darkness. Me? Part of me wants to model the darkness.
I was led to this reälization upon reading the latest entry from zenicurean. In response to news reports about the latest swine-flu concerns, he writes
Plenty of first reactions appear to heavily involve doing things actual health care experts are not chiefly concerned about getting done, but that's how it always works, isn't it?And I almost immediately thought about why those first reäctions are what they are. For example
- Officials want to be seen as doing something.
- People, including officials, often greatly over-estimate their understanding of issues that have (or seem to have) a significant bearing on general welfare.
- Officials with axes to grind are quick to find excuses for the grinding.
- Politicians can exploit the prejudices and desires of voters who are predisposed to support various measures (such as blocking foreign trade or travel, or subsidizing some profession).
So, could we pull this altogether, and surely other things that don't come so quickly to-mind, perhaps into a mathematical model, or perhaps into something less formal, that would have some predictive efficacy, or at least some distinctive explanatory efficacy?