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Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)
CET Virtual Lunch Seminar

Mathematical models for policy-making and the illusion of accuracy.

CET is excited to announce this CET Virtual Lunch Seminar with Arnald Puy Maeso, Marie Curie Global Fellow at Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at UiB.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CET Lunch seminars are currently online.
Photo:
Judith Dalsgård/CET

Main content

Mathematical models are increasingly being used to gain insights into managerial problems, probe the future and help us ensure human and environmental welfare. Model-produced numbers are thus performative and have a direct impact on people’s lives. They also convey a sense of objectivity and precision: quantification is often regarded as the epitome of Science and a prerequisite to make impartial, rational decisions. Yet models inevitably hide assumptions, normative stances, biases and simplifications. Unveiling these uncertainties is key to prevent models from misguiding our policies under an accuracy mirage.

In the seminar I will use examples from the Climate, Energy and the Agricultural Sciences to illustrate the accuracy illusion; show how the addition of detail aiming at making models more precise for policy-making often produces fuzzier estimates, and expose what can we do to make models better acknowledge uncertainties.

About the speaker

Arnald Puy Maeso (PhD, 2012) studies intensive agrarian systems and their sustainability through time. He has been a Wenner-Gren Foundation Fellow, a Humboldt Research Fellow (University of Cologne, 2014-2015) and a Marie Curie Fellow (University of Haifa, 2015-2017). He currently holds a Marie Curie Global Fellowship at the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department (Princeton University) and at the Center for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (University of Bergen). His project studies the risks and benefits of promoting "large" and "small" irrigation systems through anthropological / historical perspectives, dynamic models and uncertainty/sensitivity analysis. He is also interested in examining the uncertainties embedded in the models used by FAO or the UN for policy-making in agriculture.