Discover more from Mental Models Weekly
What is a mental model?
Welcome, I’m really excited to have you joining me in learning a new mental model each week. I’ve wanted to launch this project for a while - to add some structure (and discipline) to my own learning and also to have some fun learning with you all! 💛
For week #1 let’s look at what a mental model is, and why we would even want to bother spending time learning a whole load of them. 😉
What is a mental model?
I remember once hearing mental models called "apps for your brain" which I thought was a fun definition. The term is often used as a catch-all to cover any concept/principle/framework that you can hold as a mental representation of an external reality. A mental model can also be thought of as a tool for thinking - to help you understand or explain something. Here's a great list of examples.
Why study mental models?
Learning new mental models helps you think better. It gives you a box of thinking tools that help with your judgement and your decision making.
I'm super keen to improve my decision making and I believe that mental models have started to help me make decisions more clearly. But hey, don't just take my word for it - celebrated thinkers such as Charlie Munger, Elon Musk, and Ray Dalio give lots of credit to mental models.
Take it from Munger -
You've got to have models in your head. And you've got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models.
And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department ... you've got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.
Or take it from Dalio (italics mine) -
Those who understand more of them (mental models/principles) and understand them well know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well.
Munger suggested that learning 80 or 90 key models "will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person."
So I'm going to assume he's right, which means we can build wisdom, one week at a time, by adding to our own personal internal repository of mental models.
Over these first few weeks we're going to be jumping around a bunch of different disciplines. We will get started with a few of my favorite mental models (Bayes Theorem, Operant Conditioning) and things that have been topical for me lately (Survivorship Bias, Activation Energy, Hanlon's Razor). 🎉
Reply to this email if you have any thoughts, requests etc you want to share, otherwise 'til next week dear Mental Modelers! 🙇