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The Great Mental Models, Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry and Biology

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  567 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published March 27th 2020 by Latticework Publishing Inc. (first published December 1st 2019)
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Todd Cheng
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reread
A good collection of the science frameworks applied to social science. For example a catalyst model in chemistry used to suggest the importance of learning and it ability to be a force multiplier. The book links velocity as speed and size in physics to Napoleon and his use in army strategy. Natural selection as evolution or in this narrative how it applies to to adaption and survival of language. Each chapter frames one science framework a metaphor or model to another more abstract social issue. ...more
Andy One
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do it. Love it.get it.go for it. Be it. See it.believe it.find it.make it.

An obscure review title for a well written, timeless book. My life is changing for the better using models thinking.
Sven Kirsimäe
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-audible
I wish I was taught subjects like this at my university. For many of the topics, though, a personal experience might be in need. Thus, I'm humbled to learn them now, and in some cases even be able to associate from personal experience. ...more
Anurag Dahal
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For what it's worth, this book contains information worth chewing and digesting. ...more
Vitalijus Sostak
Dec 12, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a strongly simplified selection of some fundamental concepts in physics, chemistry and biology. They're supposed to be practical and applicable in various aspects in life, but it simply does not work for me.
First, it's not a science book, even a very simplified one. There is no system, criteria by which concepts are chosen and their explanation is also inconsistent in structure and details.
Second (and I had exactly same gripes with the first book in the series), the level of
Ivaylo Durmonski
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
There is a good reason why the ideas from physics, chemistry, and biology discussed in this book are worth learning. We exist, in this very moment, thanks to thousands of years of evolution.

The energy circling around and the substances that flow in our bodies and in the bodies of everyone else are what make the world works. And by understanding these forces, you’ll uncover truths about our surroundings that are essential for a happy life.

By backing up the scientific concepts mentioned in the sub
Rishabh Srivastava
Oct 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
This was a frustrating book to read. While the authors brought up some interesting principles/mental models, there was a lot of pseudoscience (like "It is probable that that people first discovered catalysis when alcohol was invented", or "Although the science continues to advance, we lack a comprehensive definition or how many catalysts actually work")

Moreover, they were limited in treating the interesting mental models they did bring up. As an example, Andy Grove and Naval Ravikant treat Lever
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The reason i am giving 4* &not 5* because most of the mental models have been covered in farnam street blog which i had been religiously following since 2018.
This book is good in a sense that it weaves a beautiful structure where that mental tools has been applied in past and where this tools can be followed in day to day sense.
The different stories revolving different mental from battle to discoveries to innovation to philosophy is really fascinating.
I have been reading books on mental tool fo
The Mole
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly! I didn't fully read this one. After reading all of the last book, I found that the chapter conclusions were more than enough to give me the core idea. I still think there's way too much fluff in these books. Good idea, but a lot of unnecessary examples and over explanation going on. ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous book that will help you apply mental models from the sciences.
Will Bowers
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent application of scientific principles to thought patterns. This book is intriguing throughout. I say this being totally unbiased by my appearance in the acknowledgements.
Kilian Markert
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Second part of the series on mental models, this one is much longer and in my opinion way too long. The book goes into even more length than part 1 trying to give real life examples connected to the mental models.

Some of them didn't really fit, while a few where quite interesting and others left me asking, so what?

Also a lot of it is just pretty obvious and not containing any valuable lesson for your life.

Valuable take aways however where:

1. Relativity and limited perspective
"You will always h
Scott Wozniak
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book takes some of the major scientific ideas of our day and then applies them in metaphorical ways to life and leadership. For example, inertia can be used to understand why it's hard to change habits and the second law of thermodynamics (everything slides to disorder/decay unless acted on by an outside energy source) can be used to show how we need to keep pouring new ideas and tools and people into our organizations to keep them healthy and strong.

It's well written and easy to read, espe
Aritra Bose
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to mental models has been through Shane’s works, and this book is just another step towards that goal. The first one in the series introduced me to number of new models altogether, this one takes concepts from known subjects (speed, velocity, alloys to name a few) and synthesises a new paradigm to watch the world through. To internalise these, one needs to devote time, and more importantly commitment, but once you get hooked, there’s no looking back. I found more analogies cited ...more
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read the first volume and loved it. I've been a fan of the Farnam Street blog for some time now and was really happy for this series to come out. At first, I thought this was going to be more "telling" and less "storytelling", given the subtitle. But the great thing about this book is that it uses the properties and principles of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology to tell historical and modern day lessons in a captivating way. Unfortunately, the audio version has a professional narrator so the li ...more
Javier Rivero
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is not a book about mental models, in it’s lengthy entirety, this work describes fundamental concepts from physics, chemistry and biology. So if you didn’t attend high school and don’t know what Evolution or Velocity mean, then this book will probably help you out understanding this basic principles.

To add more, each concept forces an example/analogy from outside the hard sciences such as “how the tea is so popular worldwide” and makes it feel cramped just to fit the original concept, and w
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read, as usually from Shane Parrish, on mental models. This is the 2nd volume in their work. While some of this is repeated from the great work Shane's team does on the Farnam Street website, there is some great stuff here. The writing is succinct but well written, and making it easy to follow and easy to learn from. I really enjoyed the models and examples here, plus some tips at the end on how to implement this. Great stuff. Keep up the good work Shane! ...more
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mildly interesting for the anecdotes, but the application of any of these hasn't really hit home. I see some of them in my day to day, but feel like I already have mental models (e.g., activation energy vs. critical mass, alloying vs. greater than the sum of their parts, niches vs. specialization vs. T's and I's). I'll try to keep the concepts in mind, but it definitely didn't hit home while reading. ...more
Ams Leafs
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this and am excited for volume 3 to come out.

I like the style of this and Robert Greene's books of incorporating historical examples to strengthen points (as I find my knowledge of history to be weak at best). I hope to find more similar authors.

Thanks for writing this book!
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
For whatever reason, the idea of limiting reactants from high school chemistry class has been a "mental model" that I have applied to many other areas of life. I enjoyed sharing notes and getting some new ideas in these areas that I have such little experience in. I look forward to the volume that will cover math... ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“Charlie” here we go...!
Can’t wait for Volume 3.
I like the fact that the book introduces the models in a pretty simple, general and understandable manner... but I experienced it will take a whole different level of research and application of the models in order to let it stick... and remain as a lattice-work in my/your head as someone suggested... Love it!
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A toolkit for life

Building on his first volume, this book captures the models from physics, chemistry, and biology.Great reference to always go back to for attacking problems or challenges in your life.
Bharadwaj Machiraju
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Probably being from a science based background, most of these models seem trivial. Examples make them stick better and yes just like previous volume, reading more on these models on the side was useful.
Madhur Bhargava
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is worth it's weight in gold. It provides the reader a variety of lenses from sciences to see how these the learnings from various streams can be picked up as-is and can be applied into a problem in a totally unrelated field. Nuf said, a highly recommend read. ...more
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Didn't love this as much as volume 1 but still a good book to read. I didn't agree with the author's use of certain models, but still found it enlightening and well worth reading. Note that this volume is about 2x long (and probably 2x as dense for the average reader) when compared with volume 1. ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waiting for volume 3

The second volume of mental models is great, even more insightful than the first one. Been following Farnam st blog and podcast for years and Mental Models are at the heart of their thinking about life. Recommended
Joanne McKinnon
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mind-fitness
Much required

Just reading the author’s newsletter improved my decision making. I am now less vulnerable to manipulations. The mental models are based on facts not fiction. A way to reinforce your logical mind.
Akash Chauhan
May 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Only good for those who do not have a science background as all are basics taught in school.
Stefan Liljenström
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookshelf, networks
Amazing book, especially the physics and chemistry sections. A must read.
Sumit Gupta
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional.Timeless wisdom..
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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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