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by a wide margin without recognizing the game is over—a true beginner’s mental model of the state of play might be so far off that he might not understand his defeat until his more skilled opponent shows him the more accurate model that she is using. A large part of becoming proficient at playing Go consists in learning how to manipulate the relevant mental models of the board, and learning how to manipulate the pieces on the board such that your opponent is forced to accept your model.

Of course, disagreement about model construction and use has consequences that range far beyond the outcome of strategy games. In the late 1990s, the designers behind the Sim series created a project for the Markle Foundation called “SimHealth.” SimHealth worked much like SimCity, but rather than simulation the operation of a city, it simulated the operation of the national healthcare system—hospitals, doctors, nurses, ambulances, &c. Even more interestingly, it exposed the assumptions of the model, and opened those up to tinkering: rather than working with a single fixed model and tinkering with initial/later conditions (as in SimCity), SimHealth’s “players” could also change the parameters of the model itself, experimenting with how the simulation’s behavior would change if (for example) hospitals could be efficiently run only a dozen doctors, or if normal citizens only visited the emergency room for life-threatening problems. Wright argued that tools of this type made the process of health care policy debate explicit in a way that simple disagreement did not—that is, it exposed the fact that the real nature of the disagreement was one about models.

WW: When people disagree over what policy we should be following, the disagreement flows out of a disagreement about their model of the world. The idea was that if people could come to a shared understanding or at least agree toward the model of the world, then they would be much more in agreement about the policy we should take.

CP: So in a way, a system like that could be used to externalize mental models and create a