Escape from Model Land: Book summary and reviews of Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson

Escape from Model Land

How Mathematical Models Can Lead Us Astray and What We Can Do About It

by Erica Thompson

Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson X
Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson
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Book Summary

Why mathematical models are so often wrong, and how we can make better decisions by accepting their limits.

Whether we are worried about the spread of COVID-19 or making a corporate budget, we depend on mathematical models to help us understand the world around us every day. But models aren't a mirror of reality. In fact, they are fantasies, where everything works out perfectly, every time. And relying on them too heavily can hurt us.

In Escape from Model Land, statistician Erica Thompson illuminates the hidden dangers of models. She demonstrates how models reflect the biases, perspectives, and expectations of their creators. Thompson shows us why understanding the limits of models is vital to using them well. A deeper meditation on the role of mathematics, this is an essential book for helping us avoid either confusing the map with the territory or throwing away the map completely, instead pointing to more nuanced ways to Escape from Model Land.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Thompson, a senior policy fellow at the London School of Economics, debuts with an eye-opening account of the limits and uses of mathematical models...[A] thoughtful, convincing look at how data works." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Math-based models have become the secret machinery of our society, and this book draws back the curtain for a close look...A complex subject rendered in accessible terms, with good advice for using models without drowning in data." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Data, computing power, AI, and the models that use them will continue to proliferate. The wisdom, life experience, and humility to make the best use of those powerful tools will remain scarce. This delightfully wide-ranging book offers heaps of the latter to help us generate genuine insights from the former." - Charles J. Wheelan, New York Times-bestselling author of Naked Statistics

"A brilliant account of how models are so often abused and of how they should be used." - John Kay, author of Other People's Money

"Escape from Model Land demystifies the process of making the mathematical models that are increasingly used to make decisions about our lives, from the financial markets to the pandemic to climate change. A thought-provoking and helpful guide for data scientists and decision makers alike." - Stephanie Hare, author of Technology Is Not Neutral

This information about Escape from Model Land was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Erica Thompson

Erica Thompson is a senior policy fellow at the London School of Economics' Data Science Institute and a fellow of the London Mathematical Laboratory. With a PhD from Imperial College, she has recently worked on the limitations of models of COVID-19 spread, humanitarian crises, and climate change. She lives in West Wales.

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