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The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You
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The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  427 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Work with data like a pro using this guide that breaks down how to organize, apply, and most importantly, understand what you are analyzing in order to become a true data ninja.

From the stock market to genomics laboratories, census figures to marketing email blasts, we are awash with data. But as anyone who has ever opened up a spreadsheet packed with seemingly infinite li
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 27th 2018 by Basic Books
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Mel (Epic Reading)
As a professional Business Intelligence Analyst (BIA) this is the perfect non-fiction book for my desk. I do data aggregation, reporting, and analysis at my day job. And we are constantly trying to determine what the best correlation, representation or model is for analysis the data available to us.
Scott E. Page starts us off talking about WHY. This is an often overlooked piece of any business work. The why. Why do we do something? Why do we care? Why use X over Y? And so on...
In this case Pag
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like the subject of this book. Model thinking is one of the best subjects I have taken in Coursera. The concepts are really useful and practical. It helps you to frame your thinking about numerous things in our world.

I would not give this book a 5 stars because I think this subject is best convey through other format like videos, lectures, or course. The topic is a bit complex especially for those who ate not comfortable with numerical reasoning. By putting it in book format it limited
Professor Page certainly introduces some interesting concepts in The Model Thinker. His overall aim here is to get you to use multiple models in your thinking, and the plethora of models provided will be an aid to any person out there.

That said, I found it rather difficult to get through. My attention wandered far more than I thought it would. I think that is just the nature of non-fiction sometimes. Even when interested in a subject, a book on it is not always enjoyable. Thus, my star rating sh
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Doesn’t provide as much math as a textbook and doesn’t provide as much substance as a story/novel. Caught in between doing neither well.
Alexis Bauer Kolak
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title of this book is a little misleading. While the author provides a clear, informative overview of the different types of models and the kinds of problems they are regularly used to solve, he never touches on examples of where you might want to apply them. I was expecting a little more guidance on what this information means to me.

In spite of that, I could see this being very useful, and it did make me want to read more on some of the topics covered here.
Daniel Christensen
OK. So, this is a beast which is neither fish nor fowl. It’s somewhere between popular science and a coursebook.

Many model thinking is so hot right now (see Munger, Parish etc etc.). This book kinda fits into that genre.

On the other hand, it is also a much more serious treatment of how to apply analytic models, and it’s almost a textbook for his course:

That said, the book doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of how to use each approach. That’s not necessari
Ramanathan Palaniappan
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Charlie Munger (the billionaire investor/partner of Warren Buffett) said: "The first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models—because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does. You become the equivalent of a chiropractor who, of course, is the great boob in medicine.

It’s like the old saying, “To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
Fernando Rodriguez-Villa
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating read. It managed to explain a wide range of intense math/statistical topics in an approachable way. It is definitely more technical than a pop science book (Sapiens, Sixth Extinction) but more accessible than a textbook... take from that what you will. The true test will be if I retained any of it for use in daily/life. I certainly hope so.
Jan Spörer
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Here are my key takeaways from the book. I’ve found that the earlier chapters were more interesting to me as there were more statistical concepts at the start. There are many game theory models in the later chapters:
-Many-model approach: The book relies on a many-model approach. A given problem can usually be solved with several models. Also, different problems require different models. (pp. 5-6) Condorcet jury theorem: Many models are better than one model in a jury problem. If a judge is right
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This books offers insight into so many disciplines by giving a primer of so many models and concepts, developed by different people for different problems encountered in the real world. While it can only be an introductory reading due to the vast number of models presented, it is still very dense and at times very technical. So be prepared to do some skimming if you want to get through it. But your horizon will be broadened.
Héctor Iván Patricio Moreno
This book is awesome. First, it heightened my appreciation for math. I've never had the opportunity to learn about models in such great detail and extensiveness. The book explains formally many models used to understand several problems and phenomenons that happen in the current world. The models help you understand in a mathematical and formal way some thoughts you may have intuitively and explain it. Other times, applying the same model to different problems makes you understand things you wou ...more
Jeff Heuer
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A somewhat dry, but unique text, that concisely presents a worldview it took me years of piecemeal study to stitch together from bits of economics, behavioral science, computer science, biology, complex systems, and beyond. You might think of it as “computational social science”, though it certainly extends further.

It does a very nice job of pointing to real-world scenarios that can be usefully analyzed by each model, and highlights topics of equity, diversity, and other pro-social values, speci
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read all but the 2nd-to-last and 3rd-to-last chapters, because I ran out of time before the book was due back at the library. I did read the final chapter. I found thee book to be very dense, but interesting at times. The first 100 pages were tedious and largely review for me. There were some interesting nuggets from game theory, signaling models, random walks, and spatial vs. hedonic models. All in all, like an encyclopedia that would be best digested in 6+weeks, each chapter lulling you to sle ...more
Bryan Alkire
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Good info but the writing is not compelling
Jim Mehnet
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books-read
The case made by the author is that social systems are very complex and often have vast numbers of what could be causal forces at play. In physics, chemistry and biology, sciences from which social sciences emerge we have often had few enough variables that relatively simple models have been constructed since the enlightenment that are so surefooted at predicting fairly granular aspects of the future that we call them laws. The social sciences (economics, psychology, political science, sociology ...more
Ben Hughes
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a thorough coverage of various types of models that can help us apply to problems. A strong foundation in mathematics is helpful, as most of these models are spelled out formally via math, but not necessarily required. This book advocates for, importantly, a "many-models" approach to problem analysis: many people approach problems myopically, applying the models and intuitions that are most familiar to them to a problem, convincing themselves they have it all figured out - with unwarrant ...more
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library
A tough read - not one you can simply breeze through - a revelation nonetheless, once you have managed to trundle through the first 50 pages. The Model Thinker spans across multiple disciplines, throwing light on the most critical models yet discovered or constructed for various contexts. After laying down the basics of a model, Prof. Page highlights the insights gleaned from the model's applications in the germane contexts.
Prof. Page takes care not to delve too deep into each model, for then,
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and revealing, a guide to help think on today's complex problems

What's a model? How to use a model? Why to use a model? Any qualitative approach to apply a model? Only use 1 model or various? These are the questions that these book look to help to answer. It is fascinating as depending your area of expertise some model will be recognizable and others not. Maybe someone can say that many other models are not included, or not clear the difference what a model is, is the Standard Atomic
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rmtd, vuca
Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom

Basically sums the "Model Thinking" Course by the same professor.
The style in which the book was written, makes it a perfect handbook/manual for class...
And I guess that regardless of one's background, and with enough openness, you can discern magical phenomena (obviously it's just that we ignore how stuff work), while reading this book.
Now back to the oldest idea about models as mere reductions, and are not reliable or so: Yes they are reductions, and a
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well crafted with clear examples, and no excessive formulae to intimidate non-experts (the detailed formulae are boxed away or footnoted rather than in the main body of text). The book is an overview only, not diving deep into any particular model, and achieves what it intends to: Suggest the many available models and how combining them can help people plan better, to achieve better results in a complex interactive world. Such an approach is extremely useful today, when you can easily look up mo ...more
Christopher Alleman
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For the thinking minds that desire clarity with complex data or social issues. I had a really great time reading this book. Having recently graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree, I found some chapters to be trivial and some to be concepts I had never thought of or ever actually understood. The book has been beneficial during the read and I hope to reference this book as I move forward in life. This by no means goes into detail of any one model but rather adequately explains the importan ...more
Aaron Lee
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, the book accomplishes its goal of introducing many different models. The writing is clear, and technical concepts are explained well without superfluous detail or jargon. That said, the book would benefit from better organization of the models — grouping chapters together, or contextualizing them so readers start each chapter with an idea of how and when they might apply the model. As is, each model is explained clearly, but it is on the reader to generalize and recognize when the model ...more
Mitch Malone
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are some useful models in here that I've been able to apply directly to my work. The overall thesis—using many models to explain, predict, and act is more helpful than using one—is something that really came into focus.

It's a very dense book with "textbook" style writing. I wish it had more narrative prose to make the reading more enjoyable. There aren't as many real world examples in the book—it's mostly math and visuals of the models themselves.
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Makes some good points about the usefulness of models and provides a concise overview of many useful types of models. Works well as a general introduction to what modeling can do, or as a brief glimpse at other models for people who already do modeling and looking for inspiration, but its not particularly useful as any sort of guide to get started in actually doing it.

Could also have used a more thorough editing.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good reference for knowing model names. Nothing more. It is not for people without basic statistics, computer science, and math knowledge. And It is not for people who were looking for advanced models. I was not really sure who the author's intended readers are. On the plus side, the book gives a very broad view of the models used in various fields--from economics to epidemiology. ...more
Kevin Dineen
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I preface my review with this: I'm a beginner in data and formulas. This book quickly went over my head, although I was able to grasp a decent amount. Written clearly, the logical and math behind it was more beyond me. Definitely will help to have some background with logic, mathematical formulas, and data analysis. ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's a testament to human interpretation that models that barely differ mathematically can explain so many diverse social phenomena.

Book is very well written too, even if the title about "data" is misleading. This is not a book about data really.

I started reading this a few months while skiing alone. I'd hurtle down and read this on the way up. Feels a long, long time ago now.
Denis Romanovsky
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a great source of wisdom. 25 something general prediction models with simple math explanation, good examples and comprehensive insights. Many model approach reasonable as nothing else in this world. Invaluable food for thought!
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
More of a reference manual than a book to be read straight through. Had some good tidbits here and there and the last chapter was great. But I mostly found the real world examples to be the only part of this book that were intelligible.
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe one of my favorite books for this topic, though it doesn’t make for a particularly enjoyable linear read. Bookmark and come back to it. Re-read things multiple times. Revisit it annually, maybe.
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