Consider a Lego person


Lego people are the wrong size to be humans. They have no nose or ears. Their legs are columns, their hands often hooks. Their "skin" feels nothing like human skin, and they are room temperature... I'm sure you could keep going.

And yet they function as model people, so well that very young children (by 20 months?) are able to recognize them as such and play with them.

How does this work?


  1. I think the emotive facial expressions are key (and kids pick up on these early). The difference between a bald Lego man and a Lego robot is the curve of the mouth.

  2. The mind is not a blank slate. We have inbuilt circuits for recognizing human-like features, and for "detecting" humanness. False positives are unavoidable.

    This is impossible to turn off I find. I watch Murray Rothbard on Youtube and despite knowing better think I am watching a human being!

    1. Yes, but what I am after is really about modeling in general: how do we see, say, an Edgeworth Box diagram as a "model" of a choice situation?


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