The Model Thinker Book Summary - The Model Thinker Book explained in key points
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The Model Thinker summary

Scott E. Page

What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You

3.9 (156 ratings)
20 mins
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    The Model Thinker
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    Models help us to explain, design, and predict.

    In June 2009 Air France flight AF 477 crashed in the Atlantic ocean. After searching in vain for weeks, and after a second failed search attempt a year later, the French authorities eventually turned to using complex data models to locate the plane. Using data on ocean currents and sophisticated modeling, they pinpointed a small region where they predicted the fuselage might lie. Within a week, they’d found it!

    The key message here is: Models help us to explain, design, and predict.

    The success in locating Air France flight AF 477 shows the power of using models. By simplifying the world into straightforward variables, models reduce the confusing background noise and identify the truly significant factors that determine real-world outcomes. Sound a little abstract? Then picture real-world models like, for instance, those in physics which explain missile trajectories, or ecological models that explain the distribution of species in an ecosystem. Each of these draws on observable facts to create accounts of why things happen the way they do.

    But that’s not all. As useful as models are for analyzing and visualizing data that already exists in the world, they're equally helpful in imagining what things might look like. Using models to visualize all sorts of designs – for example, social policies, innovative products, or marketing campaigns – allows us to project and envision outcomes without actually committing to them. With models, then, we can consider the implications of our choices and redesign things in response to our discoveries.

    From imagining the form a design could take, it's a short step to thinking about what will happen. Models help us predict the future. They don’t always do this perfectly, of course – as anyone who’s ever been misled by a weather forecast knows. But, as you’ll learn in the following blinks, models can make it much easier to predict the outcomes of uncertain events.

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    What is The Model Thinker about?

    The Model Thinker (2018) is a guide to using models to make data talk. In a world inundated with information, it sheds some much-needed light on the patterns underlying the noise – and points us toward the ways we can reveal those patterns for ourselves.

    Who should read The Model Thinker?

    • Modeling novices interested in making sense of data
    • Future-focused leaders interested in predicting the next big thing
    • Anyone who wants to sound a little smarter at dinner parties

    About the Author

    Scott E. Page is an American social scientist based at the University of Michigan, where he’s John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management. He’s the author of several other titles, including The Diversity Bonus and The Difference.

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