Undoubtedly our life is a sum total of the decisions we make. In the exact same place with exact same inputs two human beings make two completely different decisions. One turns out to be more right than the other. Charlie Munger, part of the Buffet Munger duo, extolled the power of identifying and applying mental models across disciplines in his 1995 speech, ‘The Psychology of Human Misjudgement’.
If you don’t keep learning, other people will pass you by. Temperament alone won’t do it – you need a lot of curiosity for a long, long time.Charles Munger
I was poking around the idea of mental models for a while, after being exposed to the power of Occam’s Razor which states “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” The simplest explanation in a given situation is probably the correct one. And then I came across this article by Gabriel Weinberg (thanks to Pocket) the founder of Duck Duck Go – the privacy driven search engine that decided to take on Google. Gabriel quotes Munger as having said “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly‑wise person.” The article also points to Tren Griffin and his blog 25iq and his post on A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger about Mental Models and Worldly Wisdom, Tren has written books and a bunch of posts on Charlie Munger – obviously a big fan and lists down the Mental models you should familiarize yourself and try to find applications of those.
“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. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.” Then quotes Charlie and goes on to explain in the words of Richard Feynman the Nobel laureate physicist (1965) – “ Richard Feynman liked to tell this story about something his father taught him: “You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird.” Rather than just knowing the names of various mental models, Charlie Munger is very focused on acquiring a deep understanding of these models so they can help him better understand the world.”
Then I found this fascinating podcast Making Sense by Sam Harris (Sam is the author of five New York Times best sellers including The End of Faith, Sam received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA) where he speaks with Shane Parrish, the host of The Knowledge Project podcast and the Founder of Farnam Street blog ( and surprise surprise another die hard fan of Charlie Munger, Farnam St., Omaha is the street on which Berkshire Hathaway office exists). In this episode on Mental Models Shane talks about how mental models can be applied to make better decisions, understanding how the world works and live a better life.
This post is the starting point. All the articles cited above are available form the links below. These are not easy reads. I will update this post / article, elaborate on the ideas and models over the next several Wednesday posts. I think besides the tactical content that I normally write about and share ideas that are making an impact on me or helping me tackle challenges, this series will make a fundamental contribution to shifting how we make decisions, fight our cognitive biases and false intuitions (read ego).
I will be very keen to know your views as well as books, podcasts and articles you are reading on this.
Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful by Gabriel Weinberg https://getpocket.com/explore/item/mental-models-i-find-repeatedly-useful
The Psychology of Human Misjudgement by Charles T. Munger http://web.archive.org/web/20151004200748/http:/law.indiana.edu/instruction/profession/doc/16_1.pdf
A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger about Mental Models and Worldly Wisdom by Tren Griffin https://25iq.com/2015/08/22/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-from-charlie-munger-about-mental-models-and-worldly-wisdom/
#155 – MENTAL MODELS – A Conversation with Shane Parrish by Sam Harris https://samharris.org/podcasts/155-mental-models/