Shane Parrish - The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts
The promise of this book sounds great. Read these 216 pages, and your thinking will get more efficient. Don’t expect that.
The Great Mental Models have one thing going for them: the table of contents. Shane did a good job of curating the tools for better thinking but not describing them. The book itself was, surprisingly for me, worse than reading the articles on the topic on fs.blog.
The book is too abstract and contains little practical advice. For almost every concept, I had to go on the internet and find examples and explanations from others.
These are the valuable concepts that ended up in my permanent notes. You can do your own research.
- Map is not a territory - Our understanding of the world is only an approximation. We should keep that in mind when making decisions.
- First principles thinking - Try to decompose our reasoning for decisions into the smallest parts, then investigate each part separately.
- Shane suggested 5 Whys method without giving any good examples. This method is originally meant for finding defects in a system, and it’s not obvious how it relates to the First principles thinking. This chapter was the least useful even though the model is interesting.
- Probabilistic thinking - A brief explanation of Byes Theorem and base rate neglect + fat tail curve (also called Power law randomness by Nassim Taleb).
- Occam’s razor - If your map (understanding of the world) is too complex, look for a simpler explanation, this works for aliens, conspiracies, and even reading too much into your friend forgetting about your coffee catchup
- This was personally the most useful model and the only one I understood from this book without further research.
- Hanlon’s razor - When people do something bad, always assume negligence and incompetence before malice.
Read these five blog articles, do more of your own research on the internet and save yourself reading this book.