An Analyst's View of the Uses and Abuses of Modeling for Decisionmaking

by Garry D. Brewer


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It is an open question as to whether or not models, simulations, and games (MSGs) are being used by policymakers. On the one hand, it may be argued, these techniques are being used extensively: the quantity of activity is considerable. On the other hand, close inspection of much of this activity reveals a divergence of purpose between those who build and those who use MSGs having a policy-assisting intent; users are inadequately trained to know what they are buying from technical experts; and this inadequacy also exists with respect to the experts knowing or caring about the users. What results are ill-developed controls over the building and use of MSGs because (1) the actual users do not know how the information contained in the model was generated; and (2) the experts responsible for the information contained in the model have abnegated responsibility for their products through disinterest, contempt, and ignorance. Ameliorative requirements are outlined and focus on professionalism, documentation, and institutional developments.

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