As I gather more experience (i.e. get older) I’ve discovered every model has a breaking point. What does that mean and why should you care? Accepting that models break is the first step to understanding and identifying their limitations. More importantly, because models have a breaking point, you should be actively discovering other models that help you better communicate and grasp new concepts.

Sounds easy right? Unfortunately my experience in life proves the opposite with most people wanting to only hold a single “valid” model that manages to explain and justify everything. I see this as a consequence of western education guided by Socratic thought and a Platonic ideal but that is a post for another time. In real life, this desire to hold onto “one valid model” translates to arguments over the merits of a particular model and often the basis for justifying a position. Note that I have no problems arguing for the sake of testing and discovering the boundaries of a particular model.

What do you do about it?

Accept that models are simplifications of sometimes complicated, sometimes complex systems. Be open to exploring the boundaries of a particular model, uncovering where one model excels at explaining certain characteristics of a system. Seek out and invent new models that provide a different point of view, or that emphasise and highlight different aspects for that system.