Congratulations to Schrage for his incisive column on the politics and marketing of scientific models. While supercomputers and sophisticated mathematics are without doubt advancing our understanding of nature's complexity, Schrage rightly points out the danger of having important policy decisions swayed by salesmen posing as scientists. His observations speak strongly for the crucial need to raise the general scientific literacy of our society.
With current supercomputers, numerical modeling is being actively applied in fields from physics to chemistry to economics. We can only expect that more technical policy issues will be argued with megabytes of computer output. Politicians should seek discerning counsel as they consider current knowledge on global warming and other issues (such as nuclear waste disposal). The scientific community should promote (and fund) more studies that question how our models fail to predict nature. The integrity and advancement of science depends on understanding these failures.