What Are Mental Models?
Mental models are thinking tools that help guide and shape our perceptions of the world. They simplify complexity so we can understand life better, make decisions confidently, and solve problems.
Are They Useful?
When approaching a problem, it’s not one size fits all. It’s better to have a lot of different thinking methods so you can choose the right framework. In life, we tend to hone our skills in a specific field. As such, we rely on what we’ve learned and how those experiences have led us to think, but counterintuitively, specialization can cause blind spots.
It’s not so different from using a hammer to nail everything, and discovering a screwdriver can screw things in better than a hammer ever could. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more capable you are of choosing the correct one. In a mental model’s case, the benefit of selecting correctly is the ability to see clearly.
By comprehending the best thinking from many disciplines, you can view any problem objectively. Whether the concept comes from physics or psychology, these thinking methods can be used for multiple purposes. Having the faculty to select one purposefully from your metaphorical bookshelf is what you’re aiming to achieve.
Are They Perfect?
Nope, mental models are imperfect, but when used correctly, they can impact your outcomes significantly. It’s important to frame them as a resource rather than a source of truth, and in that format, they deliver utility.
Are They Important?
If these were different times, perhaps Mental Models would be less useful. However, with the war on truth, and a lack of digital media literacy, there’s precious little humans have at their disposal to parse reality.
Mental models are essential because we need to find ways to parse, analyze, and interpret incoming messages from the outside world.
As a complex organism, humanity has never been harder to grasp or comprehend how billions of us create, think, love, hate, and exist in space every day.
We are polarized people having difficult, vitriolic discussions, and we are alienating each other. This has to change.
The world needs independent thinkers now more than ever. The demand is for people to come to the table and discover new solutions to old problems.
While it’s impossible to see outside of our own experience and live unbiased lives, giving yourself a chance to take a step back when others are racing forward is imperative.
The quippiest quote or sensational outburst cannot define us. Instead, the most measured and earnest voices must prevail.
If you’re interested in parsing reality more reliably, engaging in independent thinking, and figuring out how the world works, join me on this journey to learn more about the Mental Models available to all of us.
Second Order Thinking
The ability to reason beyond the obvious to interrogate decisions, and their consequences.
A fictitious investor whose illogical and conflicting reactions to the stock market represent the trappings of groupthink.
The Map is Not The Territory
A map is not reality; it represents a territory. In this context, a map is symbolic, a model of reality.
An observation that almost everything in the world has an uneven distribution — 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.
If you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. Folks mistakenly apply a familiar solution to every problem.
Red Queen Effect
The necessity to adapt and change to survive against others taking similar action in an ever-changing climate.
The discipline of challenging all your assumptions about a problem to develop an original solution.
A point where several psychological tendencies converge and elicit the desired outcome.
Someone who has an existing advantage can easily acquire more of it versus someone who has less.
Kantian Fairness Tendency
Making systems fairer is more important than making them suitable for individuals.
Tragedy of the Commons
An individual overuses a shared resource rather than a group’s long-term preservation, leading to a negative outcome.
A mathematical formula to evaluate anything in probabilities based on all the available data, rather than one’s own biases.
A game that exhibits why two people might not cooperate, even when it’s in their best interest.
Porter's Five Forces
The five forces that influence a company’s ability to serve its customers and profit.
Don’t search for a solution by thinking linearly; consider outcomes you don’t want to occur first.
Individuals are influenced and mimic what others around them are doing — monkey see, monkey do.
When confronted with competing solutions for the same thing, the simplest is likely the correct one.
Circle of Competence
By identifying your areas of expertise, one can determine where they have an advantage.
An entity who does not have to bear the full responsibility for an action is likely to behave recklessly.