Article ID: CBB000932756

The Epistemologies of Non-Forecasting Simulations, Part II: Climate, Chaos, Computing Style, and the Contextual Plasticity of Error (2009)


We continue our analysis of modeling practices that focus more on qualitative understanding of system behavior than the attempt to provide sharp forecasts. The argument here is built around three episodes: the ambitious work of the Princeton Meteorological Project; the seemingly simple models of convection in weather systems by Edward Lorenz at MIT; and then finally analysis of the dripping faucet by Robert Shaw and the Dynamical Systems Collective at UC Santa Cruz. Using the Princeton Meteorological Project as an argumentative foil for the later chaos work of Lorenz and Shaw, we first show how the epistemological interest of modeling came to shift from issuing predictions to probing the very meaning and limits of prediction. The second step of our argument shows that what may be seen in one context of use as a modeling technology that is error ridden, imprecise, or inadequate, may be parsed completely differently in another context. This argument about technology and practice, we argue, feeds through to epistemological conceptions of error. Far from being something that can be defined in the absolute, the notion of error is shown to be contextually plastic.


Description Three case studies: the Princeton Meteorological Project; Edward Lorenz's models of convection in weather systems at MIT; and Robert Shaw's analysis of the dripping faucet. See also JournalArticle; William Thomas; Lambert Williams; The Epistemologies of Non... (2009) [932755].

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Article Thomas, William; Williams, Lambert (2009) The Epistemologies of Non-Forecasting Simulations, Part I: Industrial Dynamics and Management Pedagogy at MIT. Science in Context (p. 245). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Dahan Dalmedico, Amy
Lahsen, Myanna
Miller, Kristen
Greene, Mott T.
Jankovic, Vladimir
Richards, Bernard
Social Studies of Science
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
History of Meteorology
Rutherford Journal: The New Zealand Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Science in Context
University of Chicago Press
Princeton University
University of Notre Dame
American Chemical Society
Models and modeling in science
Computer science
Computer Simulation
Climate and climatology
Chaos theory; chaotic behavior
Turing, Alan Mathison
Forrester, Jay Wright
Von Neumann, John
Peterson, Maya Karin
May, Robert M.
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
20th century
United States
United Kingdom
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
Princeton University
Club of Rome
University of California, Santa Cruz
Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Stanford University

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