Which models are the most reliable? Well, obviously, the models that come from hard science and engineering are the most reliable models on this Earth. And engineering quality control - at least the guts of it that matters to you and me and people who are not professional engineers - is very much based on the elementary mathematics of Fermat and Pascal.

It costs so much, and you get so much less likelihood of it breaking if you spend this much. It's all elementary high school mathematics. And an elaboration of that is what Deming brought to Japan for all of that quality-control stuff.

I don't think it's necessary for most people to be terribly facile in statistics. For example, I'm not sure that I can even pronounce the Gaussian distribution, although I know what it looks like and I know that events and huge aspects of reality end up distributed that way. So I can do a rough calculation.

But if you ask me to work out something involving a Gaussian distribution to ten decimal points, I can't sit down and do the math. I'm like a poker player who's learned to play pretty well without mastering Pascal.

And, by the way, that works well enough. But you have to understand that bell-shaped curve at least roughly as well as I do.

And, of course, the engineering idea of a backup system is a very powerful idea. The engineering idea of breakpoints - that's a very powerful model, too. The notion of a critical mass - that comes out of physics - is a very powerful model.

All of these things have great utility in looking at ordinary reality. And all of this cost-benefit analysis - hell, that's all elementary high school algebra. It's just been dolled up a little bit with fancy lingo.

I suppose the next most reliable models are from biology/physiology because, after all, all of us are programmed by our genetic makeup to be much the same.

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