Blog series: Modeling for metascientists (and other interesting people)

Leo Tiokhin, PhD
2 min readMay 10, 2021

Brief Introduction

This is a series about modeling. It is mainly meant for metascientists in the social sciences. With a bit of luck, it will also be useful to other interesting people.

Part 1: Models are for transparency. (Leo Tiokhin)

Part 2: Models are unrealistic by design. (Leo Tiokhin)

Part 3: Five modeling misconceptions. (Leo Tiokhin)

Part 4: Strategic ambiguity or unknown unknowns? (Willem Frankenhuis, Karthik Panchanathan & Paul Smaldino)

Part 5: Modeling for metascientists: some first steps. (Minhua Yan)

Part 6: Theories and models are not the only fruit. (Daniel Nettle)

Less-Brief Introduction

Metascientists are becoming increasingly interested in developing theory, particularly in using formal models to do so. In the long run, this has the potential to push our field ahead of many other social sciences, where models look something like:

Health Belief Model

But before we can look at such models, chuckle, and feel confident that we know why they are (to put it nicely) not as helpful as they could be, it’s useful to step back and ask:

What are models for, anyways?

In this series, I’ll heed my own advice and take a few steps towards answering this question. My goal is not to provide a comprehensive resource on formal modeling — I’m far from the best person to do so, and many others (including some of the contributors to this series) have dedicated their careers towards producing such resources.

Instead, my goal is to 1) make a light, introductory series for metascientists who are interested in formal modeling, 2) clarify my own thinking, 3) prevent quarantine from pulling me into the darkness and 4) stop myself from watching another Friends rerun.

This last one is hard because right now Chandler and Monica are in love (but trying to keep it secret) so Joey ends up being blamed for weird sex-related things that Rachel finds scattered around the apartment. At the same time, Ross’s engagement is falling apart, but right as things are getting bad, in comes Joey eating a bucket of chicken (ah, Joey); meanwhile Phoebe…



P.S. The title of this series is borrowed from Hanna Kokko’s wonderful book, Modelling for Field Biologists and Other Interesting People.



Leo Tiokhin, PhD

Senior Researcher @ Rathenau Instituut | Science Policy | Evidence-Based Advice |