Science Inventory

THE INTERSECTION OF INDEPENDENT LIES: INCREASING REALISM IN ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT

Citation:

NAGY, L. R., A. FAIRBROTHER, M. A. ETTERSON, AND J. ORME-ZAVALETA. THE INTERSECTION OF INDEPENDENT LIES: INCREASING REALISM IN ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT. HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL, 13:355-369, (2007).

Impact/Purpose:

In this article we provide an overview of model inference in ecological risk assessment, discuss the benefits and trade-offs of increasing model realism, show the similarities and differences between Levins’ model clusters and those used in ecological risk assessment, and present how risk assessment models can incorporate Levins’ ideas of truth through independent lies.

Description:

In 1966, Levins presented a philosophical discussion on making inference about populations using clusters of models. In this article we provide an overview of model inference in ecological risk assessment, discuss the benefits and trade-offs of increasing model realism, show the similarities and differences between Levins’ model clusters and those used in ecological risk assessment, and present how risk assessment models can incorporate Levins’ ideas of truth through independent lies. Two aspects of Levins’ philosophy are directly relevant to risk assessment. First, confidence in our interpretation of risk is increased when multiple risk assessments yield similar qualitative results. Second, model clusters should be evaluated to determine if they maximize precision, generality, or realism or a mix of the three. In the later case, the evaluation of each model will differ depending on whether it is more general, precise, or realistic relative to the other models used. We conclude that risk assessments can be strengthened using Levins’ idea, but that Levins’ caution that model outcome should not be mistaken for truth is still applicable.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 08/01/2007
Record Last Revised: 05/15/2008
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 140164