Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Introduction to a latticework of mental models and the blog

Knowledge is not the personal property of its discoverer, but the common property of all”

-Benjamin Franklin

I have been a fool for most of my life. I stumbled upon the mental models by accident. I was studying the best investors of all time. And I found Charlie Munger and his idea about the latticework of mental models by trying to find how to make better investments. I consider the best way to learn, is to study the all-time greats in their own fields and their ideas. Munger is one of them. It took me a while to understand the concept of the latticework, but I have found it useful in my life. 

Most of the scientific breakthroughs have been only mental models before their discoveries have been proven

A mental model is an idea of how something works in the real world. Most of the scientific breakthroughs have been only mental descriptions before they have been proven. These descriptions of the basic laws of the universe are, in essence, the laws of thinking. They are the basics of the past, present, and future. Mental models are the simplified versions of the laws of the universe. The laws of the universe are too complex to be explained with enough precision by using the exact laws.

You need to know all the big ideas from multiple disciplines like mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, psychology, and economics, and use them routinely. You need to have models from different disciplines because all the wisdom cannot be found from one academic department. You need to identify core principles from every department and understand them. And understand how they relate to each other. You cannot just remember isolated facts and think you know everything. You don´t have enough brainpower. You need to create a latticework of mental models to understand how things are connected. The best models are the most basic scientific principles like inertia in physics or combinations in mathematics.

The amount of useful mental models is around a hundred. You will probably need a lot a smaller amount of models most of the time. The amount of the most important models is between twenty and thirty. You don´t have to understand all the models deeply, but you need to understand how they work at the basic level. You also need to think out of the disciplinary boundaries. You can only be a good thinker by forgetting them and by applying different mental models in many disciplines. For example, the mental model of cycles can be used in mathematics, physics, economics, and even in enhancing productivity or learning new skills. This flexibility makes most of the big ideas so powerful.

Using a latticework of mental models is a skill

Using mental models and connecting them with each other is a skill. And like learning other skills you need time and lots of repetition to truly master it. You have to learn the right things, in the right way, in the right order, and at the right time. I have spent two years and I have just started. There are no short-cuts. You need a critical mass of understanding to use mental models with their fullest potential. Constructing a latticework of mental models is a complex skill. The latticework is constructed from smaller sets of subskills. Understanding a single mental model is one subskill.

Some models intertwine with each other. You need to understand these connections thoroughly. Some people are more talented in learning to apply mental models in their daily lives. Others may need a lot more effort and time than others. And in like other skills, if you did learn to do things in the wrong way, you have to unlearn everything. The younger you start the easier learning is because your brain hasn´t strengthened the wrong connections.

This skill-based, learn the right things, in the right order approach, is what separates me from the others who blog about mental models. My problem is that nobody has done this before. I will probably make some mistakes about in which order these models should be taught. People are also different, which means the order introducing mental models my way, will not apply to everybody.

You have your mental models and some kind of latticework(s) working all the time

Everybody has their own mental models. We have tens of models. For example, what you think will happen to your iPhone if you drop it, is a mental model. How you think you will react is another one. The combination of the models can be a small part of latticework or they can just be separate models without connection in your head. You have your own models and I have only one question for you: Why wouldn´t you want to have better ones? I will show you what those models are and how you can use them to your advantage. You have to understand that no amount of information will guarantee an understanding and no amount of understanding will guarantee wisdom to use it properly. Reading and understanding are not enough without the proper utilization of the models.

The optimal latticework consists of the most basic scientific principles and the detailed models in your perspective field.

The optimal latticework consists of the most basic scientific principles of the most important disciplines and their interaction, and those principles should be connected to the expertise of your own detailed knowledge in the area of your own discipline. These two latticeworks combined as a bigger latticework will make you a truly world-class performer in an intellectual field instead of a fool with a fancy title. What sets expert performers from everyone else is the quality and quantity of their mental models.

My purpose is to give you some tools for creating a better latticework of the general principles and help you utilize it better. Your responsibility is to connect it with your discipline. You have to understand that no amount of information will guarantee an understanding and no amount of understanding will guarantee the wisdom to use it properly. This chain is what I call the utilization of data, and it will be the first model I will introduce. I will deliver you the information and the knowledge I have and you have to do the rest.

The three main benefits of learning the latticework of mental models with purest scientific principles:

  • You will get a better general education.
  • You will learn how to be more efficient and more productive.
  • You will need to gather less information to get better results. Mental models make it possible to process large amounts of information quickly and you will need less experiential understanding.

You need to understand many factors and use many models at the same time.

We are at the beginning of the era, in which we can apply the results of modeling through multiple models and factors more accurately than before. This is necessary because big things great people do are never the results of a single factor. They happen, because of the interaction of many factors from genes to upbringing, from education to the concentration of hormones between individual brain cells. Thinking through multiple models and many factors at the same time is necessary, but rare. I read at least one non-fiction book a week to make my understanding of the latticework better. Most of the authors of the books think the factor they are promoting is the only factor for something happening. This leads to an incomplete understanding of the big picture and worse results in what people are trying to accomplish. With a lack of synthesis, you will end up like a man who sees every problem as a nail, because the only tool he has is a hammer.

We need to analyze the big data to get more accurate results of the research in psychology. Most of the studies are, for example, still made by researching one or two psychological biases at the same time. In reality, most of the time, the number of factors is not enough and the results we get are not truthful enough. We need more resources and the big data will help. It will take some time, but in the end, we will get there.

I will start with the most important models and how individuals can use them

In this blog, I will start with the most basic and most important models. They are also the highest quality models. I will introduce one model per week. The rest of the time is reserved for discussion. I will try to keep the models as simple as possible. First, I will introduce the most important models separately and some of their interactions with each other. The amount of the most basic and the most important models is somewhere between twenty and thirty. These models will give you most of the information you need about the latticework. Then I may get further into details with them before going into the less important models. This order may change, depending on how things move on.

Everything will be seen from the viewpoint of an individual, but most of the models can be applied to a larger group of people or even to the big organizations. Later on, it may change. I have already written a book about personal finance in Finnish, in which I use the latticework of mental models in developing better ways of using money or understanding the economy. I may write a better book about those things in English later, but I have not made any decisions about it.

I will try to keep the number of models as small as possible. Sometimes this is not as simple as I would like it to be. Because of the interaction of the models. For example, consistency bias and status quo bias in psychology can be seen as inertia in physics. The names I use may vary with names the other mental model's bloggers or experts use. I will try to use the terms of the most basic disciplines like mathematics, physics, or chemistry. For example, I will use Inertia instead of status quo bias as I try to keep things as simple as possible. There is no need to use both. If you really understand the models, there is no need to complicate things by increasing the amount of them.

At least 90% of the things I publish will be free

All these blog posts will be free. Unfortunately, everything has an opportunity cost. You have to be willing to believe you get enough added value from reading my blog to justify the cost of using the most valuable commodity of yours, time. You will never get it back. Feel free to share all the information in this blog with all the people you think will get added value from it. I will probably publish some books about mental models and those will probably not be free. Books have a better user interface than a blogger, which I am using.

Do you consider yourself as a helpful person?
Could you give me some advice by answering two questions:

On a scale from 1 to 10, how useful is this information to you?
Why didn´t you give a lower number?

I hope you find this information useful and want to improve your mental models with me!


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