It’s interesting to think about why people confuse models with theories. I think probably there are two reasons. One is the incredible effectiveness of mathematical theories in the physical and natural sciences and how well they behave, how well they work.
The second reason is that as a result of trying to apply that sort of approach to the world, people use mathematics. And mathematics looks incredibly accurate and so you may mistake it for a theory, but it’s really a model. It’s an analogy that doesn’t have the essential truth of a theory.