Chapter

Mathematical Modeling in Nutrition and the Health Sciences

Volume 537 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 43-61

Aspects of Effective Modeling

  • Judah RosenblattAffiliated withUniversity of Texas Medical Branch

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Abstract

Too many people, including a substantial number of scientists and teachers, view science as the search for truth - in the form of the immutable laws of nature. For proof of this assertion, you need only notice some of the more prominent controversies: creation-ism vs. evolution, arguments over the big bang theory, and Dr. Atkins vs. Dr. Dean Ornish. One of the older such controversies, which in many ways is as relevant now as ever, is the controversy between Galileo and the Catholic Church. It is sometimes summarized as follows: “In the middle ages, people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Now we know that the earth really revolves around the sun. ” If this assertion is what most people currently believe, it would indicate that little has been learned about the real nature of science in the last 500 years. Science is concerned with describing variables (which we will consider to be the same as the measurements used to observe them) and especially with describing the relations between measurements for the purposes of prediction and (under appropriate circumstances) control. This may sound somewhat less dramatic than searching for truth, but if you examine just about any scientific investigation, you’ll see that the assertion above captures the essence of science.