Mental Models – A review.

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“Any fool can know, but the point is to understand.”

Albert Einstein.

We live in an increasingly complex world. Rather than being black and white, every scenario is multifaceted and nuanced. People load their heads with trivial things, which adds no value to their lives and unnecessary complicate matters. Yes, the world is bizarre, but we can make sense of it, and that’s what Mental Models teach us.

The book “100 mental models” elaborates upon the most versatile, all-purpose mental models you weren’t taught in school in school which you can use right away to improve how clearly you understand the world. In turn, as Charlie Munger puts it, these models can “help us make better decisions”.

Munger said, if he were younger, he would create a course on it.

Mental models are nothing but the key ideas in each discipline- Philosophy, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Economics, and History. These models teach us how to simplify the complex into smaller, understandable chunks; how to connect the dots among the greatest ideas of each of the sciences rather than putting those ideas into watertight compartments. Munger suggests that if we learn all the big ideas from each discipline and synthesize or interrelate those learnings, more rational thinking will naturally follow. If things don’t add up, they are futile to you.

One of the most influential models one could come across in this book is the allegory of the Plato Cave, in the section of Philosophy.

The allegory goes like this: a group of prisoners has chained inside a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The prisoners can only see shadows projected on the wall — of objects passing in front of a fire behind them. They give names to these shadows. And because the prisoners have known or seen nothing else in life, these shadows become their reality.

“On the walls of the cave, only the shadows are the truth.”


This suggests that the world that we are all born into is such a cave — our reality is based on what we see or perceive, which is, more often than not, far different from the true reality. We are bound or imprisoned to this illusionary world idea. We don’t analyze anything, blindly follow what we see or are told.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This slogan was the marketing strategy employed by cereal companies to boost their sale.

This allegory is one of the hundred exemplary models this book covers. But that’s not all that there is. Models/Ideas like confirmation bias, inversion, probabilistic thinking are a part of the reality that we live in. Ideas like Logotherapy, Stoicism can make you question the futility of materialistic pursuits, and discover your true purpose in life. Models like scale, leverage and incentive help you in business.

The common thread running across all models in this book is that they all force you to think critically and logically.

People like Naval, Elon Musk focuses on multidisciplinary approach. Mental model is the key to that approach.

I am doing this article is because I am a fan of Mental Models and. And this book fills you up with the right set of models.

Don’t be a fool and ignore them because they do not tell you what to think rather how to think. All the information in your head is useless if you don’t have them in a usable form.

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