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The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,024 ratings  ·  384 reviews
The old saying goes, "To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." But anyone who has done any kind of project knows a hammer often isn't enough.

The more tools you have at your disposal, the more likely you'll use the right tool for the job — and get it done right.

The same is true when it comes to your thinking. The quality of your outcomes depends on the m
Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published October 9th 2019 by Latticework Publishing Inc. (first published December 1st 2018)
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Simon Eskildsen
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
If you've read Charlie Munger's Almanack this is the book you deeply crave in its wake. Shane's done a wonderful job over the past few years making mental models approachable through A mental model is a way to look at a problem through a certain lense: an economist will look at a problem one way, a biologist another, and a statistician yet another. Learn the big ideas from the big disciplines and you'll be able to twist and turn problems in interesting ways at unprecedented speeds. His ...more
Philip Joubert
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I listened to the audiobook, which Shane unfortunately narrated. He's super smart but a terrible narrator and it sounds like he's actually bored reading his own book.

The content is not super well presented, but the mental models themselves are super good. Here are a few of them:

Maps are not the territory - All models are wrong, but some are useful
1. Reality is the ultimate update
2. Consider the cartographer
3. Map can influence territory

Circle of competence
If you want to improve your odds of suc
Carl Rannaberg
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what non-fiction books should aspire to be like. Informative, concise, universal, practical, visual, sharing stories and examples for context etc.
This book consists of 9 mental models which can be used to better understand the world and make smarter decisions. It references numerous books and other resources where you can dig deeper.
This book is the first volume of the series and covers these mental models:
1. The map is not the territory
2. Circle of competence
3. First principles thinking
Yrjo Ojasaar
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short introduction of a few popular mental models to provide you with some basic prisms of analysis. Snack-size and superficial (Blinkist style) - so it should be accessible for absolutely everyone.
Robin Jose
Nov 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book does not necessitate an extensive review.

Here’s an easy way to sum it up:
- a lengthy introduction on the benefits of mental models
- a motley collection of mental models thrown around, with hardly any insights or application

I guess this is one of those books which takes even less time to write that it takes to read it. That about sums it up.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, audiobook
Short, but good foundations.

Notes below:

Mental Models book, by Shane Parris:
Keep in contact with reality if you want to draw strength
We usually are in the way of ourselves, because of our blindspots

1. Not having the right perspective or vantage point

Be open to other perspectives
2. Ego-induced denial

We have too much investment in our opinion, and discredit other's points of view
We don't benefit from the world's knowledge as much as we want

1. We fear what others
Augustin Grigorov
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not impressed by this book and not just because the narration in the audiobook sounds like it's made to actively try to get you to fall asleep. The "mental models" were really basic and while there were a few grains of good insight here and there it was mostly common sense stuff. What was by far the worst though, were the examples. They felt disconnected and not only not prioving the point but confusing me at times. Not an amazing read. ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
First off, the narration of the book leaves me wanting. It sounded like he was reading the headers and subheaders of topics before a new section but there would be no pause to allow for the reader to mentally switch gears. It was hard to ascertain whether he just said belonged to the previous topic, was a header, a new topic, I heard something wrong, or what have you.

Secondly, some of the audiobook is just fluff. I remember thinking a couple of times that he made the exact same point a single se
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A must-read book to inform and improve deep thinking and decision making. Shane has done a wonderful job in making useful mental models more approachable and applicable by packaging them in a easy-to-follow format. While much of the content can already be found on the FarnamStreet blog, I prefer the book as it makes these concepts easy to access, consume and reflect.

I am looking forward to the second book in the series of five.
Mirek Jasinski
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I should have read the reviews first, especially the critical ones. Listened to the audiobook and that was tedious (even though it's a short one). One of the reviewers suggested reading articles on Shane Parrish's blog instead, and this seems to be a much better option. Pity, as the title is great! ...more
Brad Pierce
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m so happy this book exists. I’ve read many books on thinking and mental models and heuristics and self-delusions. I feel this series will be the anchor text for acquiring wisdom and not fooling yourself and I can’t wait for the next 3 volumes.
Phi Unit
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Years of wisdom from a quick weekend read. A good introduction to 9 useful mental models. Design of the hard copy is great.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm going to have to revisit this several times, but some really valuable frameworks here. Some new to me, some not. ...more
Vivify M
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-interest
I found a lot that I was happy to engage with in this book. I had hoped to find more new ideas, but the subject matter is valuable enough to make up for that.

My biggest gripe with the book was that it felt incomplete. If I understood correctly, this is the first volume in many. But, I couldn't help feeling that I'd paid too much for it.

Somethings I found interesting while reading.
First was that my definition of mental models was different to the authors. I thought of mental model more as a for
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you have read any of my other book reviews 1) sorry, I'm basically writing these for myself, I really didn't think anyone was going to read them 2) you'll know that I've referenced Shane Parrish and his fantastic blog farnam street ( many times, whether it be from podcasts (Annie Duke - Thinking In Bets) or from book recommendations and his equal obsession with the nonagenarian, Charlie Munger.

I feel like I have been getting dumber as I've grown older and this book is a great kick in
Demi Yilmaz
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I recommend only the first chapter of this book. It is the best explanation of mental models and how they work.

Each of the other chapters talk about a specific mental model where just reading a chapter won't even get the reader to understand 1% of what that mental model is. The book is written really well but each of those chapters should be a 20 hour lesson all on its own with examples, practices, assignments and everything a lesson would have.

So while I recommend this book to everyone, I reco
Shane Orr
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been subscribed to Shane Parrish’s newsletter and following for a few years. This is the first in a series of books being published by Shane and the Farnham Street group focusing on mental models, which are thinking concepts that help us make good decisions. This volume covers nine, such as Occam‘s Razor, inversion, probabilistic thinking, and others. It‘s great, essential reading.
Sayan Bhowmik
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great introduction to few of the mental models. All of the models were explained with sufficient examples. Overall a Good Read.
Mitch Krause
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great overview of 10 reliable mental models that can be used in various life scenarios.

My favorites:
Occam's Razor
Hamlin's Razor
Andrei Savu
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good collection with great examples. These can make a big difference once internalized. Turning them into every day habits is the hard part.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mental models help you focus on understanding how things are than how things should be.

Three things need to be considered to use mental models/map better.

a) Reality is the ultimate update: maps/models can become outdated. When reality changes, models should change too.

b) Consider the cartographer: Think about the context in which the map was created.

c) Maps can influence territories: models have limitation. Don't try to overfit it.

Maps, or models, are necessary but necessarily flawed.

Sven Kirsimäe
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-drive
Amazing finalisation of my 2020 read set! Will start with the vol. 2 of the book right now! ...more
Mukesh Gupta
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Simple, short and to the point. All the basic mental models that one needs in our day to day life explained well and with an example. Shane does a brilliant job. Looking forward to the next book in the series already..
Kerry McGowan
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: decision-making
Great book. Have always enjoyed the FS Blog and Knowledge Project podcast and this is an extension of those excellent resources.
Kartik Gulati
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heard on Audible.
Brief, informative, and valuable, the book exposes you to 8 very easily understood mental models that may be applied on a day to day basis in problem solving situations.

1. Circles of Competence: Define what you are genuinely good at and comfortable doing and then dance and innovate within the boundaries of that circle of competence. You may from time to time based on your broad understanding glide across circles or in the gaps between, but you will do your most impactful work
Rick Sam
Nov 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
If you've read enough Philosophy, this book would come off as subpar.

Philosophy would force you to think through arguments, issues, methodologies.

Along with it, you will come across theories of epistemology, theory of moral issues.

Whether you use First-Principle or Abstraction, you'd be forced to learn how various Philosophers formulate arguments.

If you have not read Philosophy then I'd say, go ahead read this book to get an introduction.

I'd say, most of the Western Classics teach you everyt
Sanford Chee
Nov 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
Economist interview w/ Shane Parrish

FS blog

9 mental models in Vol. 1
1/ the map is not the territory
2/ circle of competence
3/ 1st principles thinking
4/ thought experiments
5/ probabilistic thinking
6/ 2nd order thinking
7/ inversion
8/ Occam’s razor
9/ Hanlon’s razor

Michał Węgrzyn
A case study on how to ruin your own book. I’ve listened to an audiobook version read by an author. Horrible experience. Why does an author self sabotage his own work?

Very rarely do I need to rely on my shear willpower to plow through the book. This was it.

Maybe physical book leaves a better impression.

Content was ok, basically a summary of authors blog.

Best thing about this book was that it was short and finishing it gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
Jamie Coleiro
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Familiar with Shane's blog? Happy. 🙌🏽

Unfamiliar with Shane's blog? Enlightened. 🧠

Shane begins by paying homage to those before him: "The ideas in these volumes are not my own, nor do I deserve credit for them. [...] I've only curated, edited, and shaped the work of others before me."

A powerful way to start a powerful book.

Kudos, Shane (and team). Kudos.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fabulous read and one of the best introductions to the world of mental models explaining some of the most important models in the simplest ways. A must read if you aspire to get better at decision making.
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Shane Parrish is the founder, curator and wisdom seeker behind Farnam Street (

What started as a personal, anonymous blog where Shane could explore what others have discovered about decision making, purposeful living, and how the world works, quickly blossomed into one of the fastest-growing websites in the world.

With over 250,000 subscribers, consistently sold-out workshops and over

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