Mental models as filters? LO13000

Stephen Wehrenberg (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 12:36:39 -0500


I encounter repeated comparisons of mental models to "filters" and to
"panes of glass that distort reality," etc. The implication (or
explication, in some cases) is that there is an objective reality (in a
Platonic sense) and our belief systems tend to present us less than
reality, or some imperfect (read "dysfunctional") perception of reality.

I wonder if it's possible that a mental model, to carry the pane of glass
analogy along, might actually serve as a lens that focuses perception to
something that is even clearer than reality? After all, observed facts
are just data, and until imbued with context and understood in the
richness of relationships, have little meaning. Is it possible that some
mental models, in some situations, for some people, are actually

Perhaps I have a mental model that, once in a while, my model is correct.
Seems possible, no? And is this one of those times?


Stephen B. Wehrenberg
Chief, Forecasts and Systems, US Coast Guard;
Administrative Sciences, The George Washington University
"Life is a jam session."

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