I have a new essay up on Correlations, wherein I try to get the reader comfortable with the idea of a “model”.
In writing this, I came to understand that the way the word “model” is used in the climate sciences is confusing. An executable software package (a “program”) is often called a “model” but this overvalues the code and undervalues the model. The code is an attempted embodiment of the model. The model is the science. The realization of the model (“running the code”) is the prediction. The code itself is just an instrument.
It’s hopeless to demand that we stop calling it a “model”. It’s just too ingrained. We should be aware, though, that this is sloppy thinking. The code is just code.