Misconception 1: It’s bad when a model’s results are a consequence of its assumptions.

I’m afraid…that the results struck me as a bit inevitable, given the assumptions of the model.

- Anonymous Reviewer

Misconception 2: If a model shows something, then that thing must be true.

Misconception 3: You can show anything with a model, so models are useless.

  • Can we possibly get the result that it is adaptive to produce offspring with varying levels of plasticity? Yes.
  • What assumptions are necessary or sufficient to get the result? Well, we don’t know which ones are necessary (it’s just one model). But we do know which ones are sufficient: parents can produce plastic or fixed offspring, payoffs are symmetric (“safe-specialists in a safe environment attain the same fitness as danger-specialists in a dangerous environment”), environmental parameters are extrinsic, and so on.
  • How large is the range of conditions in which bet-hedging via differential plasticity emerges? Not very.

Misconception 4: Models can’t test hypotheses.

You say at the outset that you set out to test an hypothesis, but…you use simulation rather than experimentation…

- Anonymous Reviewer

Misconception 5: A model must generate novel results to be useful.

None of the results surprise, given how the model was constructed.

- Anonymous Reviewer

Leo’s Epilogue

  1. Kokko, Hanna. Modelling for field biologists and other interesting people. Cambridge University Press, 2007. p.7. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511811388
  2. Smaldino, Paul E. “Models are stupid, and we need more of them.” Computational social psychology (2017): 311–331. https://books.google.nl/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gjwlDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA311&dq=smaldino+models+are+stupid&ots=K1MCBe1kq8&sig=QAClKYlxKvEOUjg_Mu4cZSLbPhE&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=smaldino%20models%20are%20stupid&f=false
  3. Gunawardena, Jeremy. “Models in biology: ‘accurate descriptions of our pathetic thinking’.” BMC biology 12.1 (2014): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7007-12-29
  4. Smaldino, Paul E., and Richard McElreath. “The natural selection of bad science.” Royal Society open science 3.9 (2016): 160384. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160384
  5. Tiokhin, Leonid, Minhua Yan, and Thomas JH Morgan. “Competition for priority harms the reliability of science, but reforms can help.” Nature human behaviour (2021): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-01040-1
  6. Yarkoni, Tal. “The generalizability crisis.” Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi. org/10.31234/osf. io/jqw35 (2019).
  7. Landy, Justin F., et al. “Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results.” Psychological Bulletin 146.5 (2020): 451. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/bul0000220
  8. Rosenstock, Sarita, Justin Bruner, and Cailin O’Connor. “In epistemic networks, is less really more?.” Philosophy of Science84.2 (2017): 234–252. https://doi.org/10.1086/690717
  9. Frey, Daniel, and Dunja Šešelja. “What is the epistemic function of highly idealized agent-based models of scientific inquiry?.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48.4(2018): 407–433. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0048393118767085
  10. Page, Scott E. The model thinker: What you need to know to make data work for you. Hachette UK, 2018. https://books.google.nl/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4a5PDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT8&dq=scott+page+model+thinker&ots=Cp340Z4kpP&sig=WwNa8c8MFeEThq93_nEvxlzKVnM&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=scott%20page%20model%20thinker&f=false
  11. Frankenhuis, Willem E., Karthik Panchanathan, and Jay Belsky. “A mathematical model of the evolution of individual differences in developmental plasticity arising through parental bet‐hedging.” Developmental science 19.2 (2016): 251–274. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12309
  12. Nettle, Daniel. “How my theory explains everything: and can make you happier, healthier, and wealthier.” Hanging on to the Edges: Essays on Science, Society and the Academic Life. Open Book Publishers, 2018. http://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/27512
  13. Scheel, Anne M., et al. “Why hypothesis testers should spend less time testing hypotheses.” Perspectives on Psychological Science (2020): 1745691620966795. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1745691620966795
  14. Goldstein, Raymond E. “Point of View: Are theoretical results ‘Results’?.” Elife 7 (2018): e40018. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.40018
  15. Epstein, Joshua M. “Why model?.” Journal of artificial societies and social simulation 11.4 (2008): 12. http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/11/4/12.html
  16. Chambers, Chris, and Loukia Tzavella. “Registered reports: Past, present and future.”(2020). https://osf.io/preprints/metaarxiv/43298/download



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Leo Tiokhin, PhD

Leo Tiokhin, PhD


Research and data scientist slowly crawling from academia to industry. I like honest people. Learn more at https://www.leotiokhin.com/