But not so today. Today we have models. Models are correct in much the same way Marx was always correct, or the Bible or some self-appointed potentate or dictator. Total infallibility. But now with numbers. Big numbers.
Most people aren't very good at math: school taught them that. Suddenly around 11 to 14 most students are made to realize they are math stupid: can't be poor math instruction, just masses of kids don't get it and are math impaired. So later in life, all sorts of people can use numbers and a sheen of statistics and claim anything. And anything you want to claim can be verified with a model.
Here is a wonderful discussion of modelling, models and their abuse. It points out that:
- The rise of models has coincided with the evaporation of the concept of human agency, of human beings consciously gaining and applying new insights through struggle.
- Just a third of a century ago, when politics actually meant something, highly regarded analysts derided vapid computerisations of the future.
- Why have models taken on such importance in policymaking today? Whatever happened to the healthy scepticism that accompanied the portentous conclusions of models in the past?
- With the IPCC, the modern computer modeller's work is complete. The conclusions are already there in the premises; but the presentation as the product of cold, logical number-crunching ensures that this work will brook no counter-argument.