Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Currentday misuse of the term Model

  1. May 27, 2010 #1
    There seems to be a trend to misuse the term model, particularly by non scientists such as educationalists, business and politicians.

    Should we be worried as the non scientific version means the diametric opposite.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    So which is the correct use?
    An airfix plastic aeroplane kit, a women in lingerie in front of a camera or a spreadsheet.

    Personally I'm more interested in harsher sentences for anyone using the word 'workshop' to describe anything other than a room with a lathe in it. Anyone using it as a verb will simply be shot.
  4. May 27, 2010 #3
    Normally, I'm pretty laid back. However, the diametric opposite use of the scientific version of model has me awake nights. In my opinion, the general public should be warned against diametric opposite use of all scientific terms. Perhaps the government needs to get involved here. A lot of times they get speed and velocity mixed up too.
  5. May 27, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I am interested to see some examples. Are you talking about a physical model of a system/experiment, female/male model, business model, or all of them?

    I, personally, am more annoyed with the term "engineer" being flagrantly tossed around when describing anyone holding a position that is in some way related to technology, such as tier-1 tech support personnel. I'm not kidding, I received an email from an entry level tech support employee at my local ISP, signed: Tech Support Engineer. :grumpy::mad:
  6. May 27, 2010 #5
    Well the models I am talking about work like this.
    You have two systems. Reality and a model.
    You are able to make a correspondence between some property or properties of the model and some observable in reality.
    By establishing values of some property in the model and using this correspondence you hope to gain (sufficiently) accurate predictions of some property in reality.
    If necessary you can force your model to conform to reality.

    The rub comes when people try to do it the other way round ie force reality to conform to some model.
  7. May 27, 2010 #6
    Oh, you mean the Democratic Party. Don't worry about it, they'll be out soon.
  8. May 27, 2010 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Like, mass-less springs, friction-less planes and neglecting air resistance :tongue:
  9. May 27, 2010 #8
    No, I was thinking about the interview I saw today on the BBC where a government education spokesman said,
    " We are going to change schools to conformto our model"

    What he relly meant was more akin to the old engineer's term "pattern".
  10. May 27, 2010 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Or just "design"
    That makes sense now.
  11. May 27, 2010 #10
    i think that can be an OK usage. often, what you want to do is test out an idea on paper/computer first before implementing it in the real world. so, you build a model and test it. if the results are satisfactory for the model, then you go with that idea. otherwise, you change the model and test again.

    works great in engineering. dubious that any actual testing occurs in government, tho.
  12. May 27, 2010 #11
    I don't understand what the problem with his statement is. It still follows with what you have said (correcty) previously. The spokesman has simple stated they have postulated a model, and they are going to use it to plug-and-chug to see what the results are. The model predicts results, based on the data used to construct it. The actual results will have to be generated to see if said model needs modifying.
  13. May 27, 2010 #12
    A woman with plastic parts spread on a sheet is also a model. :biggrin:
  14. May 27, 2010 #13
    Perhaps I did not phrase things very well.

    To paraphrase what the spokesman said:

    There is reality (the education system) and I have a model of what education "ought to be like" so I am going to (try to) force reality to conform to this model.

    I have heard similar utterances in the news from bankers and economists about their stuff.

    Citizens of ancient Greece once heard Plato spout similar nonsense about "perfection" and reality and shadows.
  15. May 27, 2010 #14
    The education system is not some organic entity that simply sprung up on its own and works by its own principles. The education system is in itself some model of what people think is the best environment and methods for educating children. What the man you are referring to seems to be saying is that he would like to alter that model in hopes of making it better, not that he is some wizard who believes he can alter reality.
  16. May 28, 2010 #15
    He would need to be at least lvl 50 to do that..
  17. May 28, 2010 #16
    whenever you have to use the same qualifying adjective thrice in two different posts, everyone knows you just learned a new word and are trying to sound smart. which is kind of sad, because it's not a very advanced word.
  18. May 28, 2010 #17
    I'm sorry I brought you down. What's worse, I haven't a clue what you're talking about.
  19. May 28, 2010 #18
    What is your point? I think if you read it again you would see that he was poking fun. Didn't really warrant a stab at his grammar or intentions.
  20. May 28, 2010 #19
    Thanks Pattonias. Can you tell me what he means?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook