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Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful (2016) (medium.com)
315 points by febin 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments




I would add one: 90% of the time someone acts irrationally (and they're not mentally ill) it's due to insecurity of some sort.


I’d expand this a lot. When someone tells you something about his or herself, there’s a good chance they are trying to convince themselves of it.

I don’t mean that people are dishonest. It’s more that we mostly learn about one another’s internal mental lives by telling each other about them. And our ability to maintain a consistent theory of mind is limited. We walk around worrying about this or that, and then we expose our mental states to one another with a snippet of a stream of consciousness. So it’s only natural we are constantly exposing our personal fears to one another.


Another corollary: 50% of the things people tell you are true, are things they wish were true but know are not.


I guess the trick is figuring out which 50% is which


Yup. It does narrow it down pretty good. You know it’s true or not true. Nothing else is probably true.


This is so true that you have to really develop an intuition for identifying sociopaths that will manipulate this natural human trait for their gain. I've had the displeasure of staying with a sociopathic lawyer one summer in my younger years that was a pro at feigning mutual interest/mirroring your insecurities to get on your good side and then gaslighting you to get you to do them favors. In the end it was only minor things they got from me but the lessons learned have been huge for me in the corporate world where I work with these types of people, most often seen in senior management roles.

After having experienced it I'll never let someone use mw in that manner ever again as I've learned how to call them out and use their own logic and tactics against them and I've built some solid internal heuristics for spotting the methods sociopaths employ to deceive people. Pretty fascinating subject, can anyone relate to my experiences/expand on the topic?


Could you please share an example so I could better imagine what you mean? Thank you.


I'd be so curious to hear more about this, with examples of things they'd say and how you'd spot them (and what to respond with, ideally).


We change as we interact. This is just as easily explainable through a perceptive bias - the difference between experiencing and having experienced.


> Although nobody knows whom he reveals when he discloses himself in deed or word, he must be willing to risk the disclosure.

-- Hannah Arendt


Good marketing often makes us act irrationally — we buy lots of stuff we don’t need — surely it’s not because we’re insecure?


What are you talking about? 95% of advertising/marketing trades on people's insecurity.


It's exactly because we're insecure


What do you mean by "need" in this context? Is it immoral to sell anything that's not basic sustenance?


Don't miss out on two of the biggest benefits: mapping your own rather than trying to learn someone else's list, and then refactoring the list you wind up with for more compact representation. The easy way to do this was I just noted down any time I noticed myself using a mental model for about 2 weeks. Once new entries started tapering off I did the compression by trying to spot ways I could organize the list into categories or relations. This significantly improved the clarity of my thinking.


Farnam Street curation is also good https://fs.blog/mental-models/



Trying to remember the items in the list of enumerated mental models described is a feat in itself. This does not seem like a very practical approach for an MM 'n00b' ...


There were some people here in HN trying to solve this problem. Have a look at this one https://github.com/marcelinollano/mental-models


You don't have to remember them exactly, memorize them all, know them in order or whatever.

Just read about them, make some notes, try some of the ones you didn't know about, and so on. If you did found them useful, revisit over time.


If I could recommend one item from the list: the 80/20 principle.


I like Polya's method as well:

1. Understand the problem

2. Devise a plan

3. Execute said plan

4. Review and reflect

This is a nice framework to attack any problem with. It won't necessarily give you a solution but it provides a nice springboard.


He finds 189 different models to be "repeatedly useful"? Hmmmm...


If I were to pick one of these. BATNA has been the most profitable one for me. It's truly amazing what this unlocks in negotiations if you have actively considered it.


Also, it gets super weird when your BATNA is not measured in dollars.


This looks very nice. If you have an excellent grasp of each item in this list, you should be able to interact well well with any kind of thinking person.



I don’t understand the point of this list. It’s just a list of concepts on various degrees of commonality. What’s the motivation of making a list like this? What’s the benefit?


I've seen Charlie Munger's talk mentioned in the article in the past too and my main takeaway is that apparently people think in very different ways because I have the same reaction as you and don't understand the value or purpose of a list like this.


The author answers that question in the introduction:

"I find mental models are useful to try to make sense of things and to help generate ideas."


This was originally submitted with a title something like "Mental Models the DuckDuckGo founder finds useful", and the mods have apparently changed it to the title on Medium.

I think that in instances like this, who "I" is is important context to HN readers scrolling through the front page. Perhaps it would be better to do the brackets thing editors do when clarifying something in a quote:

"Mental Models I [the founder of DuckDuckGo] Find Repeatedly Useful"


We reverted the title back to the original since it wasn't misleading or clickbait. That's in the guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

On HN, the first person in a title refers to the author of the article, not the submitting account. That seems simple and sufficient. It isn't necessary, nor possible, nor even desirable for an 80-char title to explain everything. It's good for HN readers to have to work a little. https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20%22work%20a%20little....


I used the title "Mental Models used by the founder of DuckDuckGo". But yeah, the bracket format makes more sense. Will keep this in mind, next time I post something similar here.




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