Preface from Model Mysteries
You may have heard the phrase, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” voiced by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz many years ago. Her problems seem small in comparison to some we’re facing in today’s world. Many of our problems keep repeating themselves throughout history, finding their way into our popular culture, including fictional stories. So in this era, rather than lions, tigers and bears, we might think about zombies, vampires and other fantastical scenarios, OH MY! Even though these types of situations may seem a little silly, exploring them can help increase understanding of some of those more real, difficult problems we’re working to solve. So, given that...
- How can zombie chickens taking over the world be similar to a growing national debt or the possible extinction of an endangered species?
- How can the distribution of a new mind-control technology be similar to working toward a goal, like improving your grades?
- How can vampires spreading throughout a big city be similar to the spread of a new deadly disease?
These and other included explorations are about deriving helpful answers, but the REAL point is to see how the underlying system works. As an example, if we were talking about automobiles, one set of lessons is to learn how to drive a car, but another – deeper – set of instructions is how to build and maintain an automobile. In the following chapters, we are going to be looking “underneath the hood” of each model.
Also, it’s important for us all to recognize that no model is ever going to be perfect, but model makers know that, and they continuously work to improve them to make them behave closer to how things work in the real world.
Why should you care?
Barry Richmond, creator of STELLA® software,coined the term “Systems Citizen.” The term is grounded in his idea that if people increase their awareness and insights about the systems around them, they can better make logical decisions while increasing their empathy at the same time. He illustrated this point by showing an image of someone who was clearly not aware of how his actions impacted others. Chris Soderquist later wrote this definition, “Systems Citizens have empathy, they respect others, and they wish to make the world a better place for everyone.”
As you use this book, your understanding of systems in general and these systems in particular will increase. If our understanding of systems expands, the hope is we’ll also make decisions that result in a better world for all.