Peter Hollins - Mental Models
- Address "Important"; Ignore "Urgent" to separate priorities from impostors
- Visualize All the Dominoes to make decisions as informed as possible
- Make Reversible Decisions to remove indecisions and have a bias to action
- Seek "Satisfiction" to achieve your priorities and ignore what doesn't matter
- Stay within 40% - 70% to balance information with action
- Minimize Regret by consulting the future you on decisions
- Ignore "Black Swans" to understand how outliers shouldn't change your thinking
- Look for Equilibrium Points to find real patterns in data and not be fooled
- Wait for the Regression to the Mean to find real patterns in data and not be fooled
- What Would Bayes Do to calculate probabilities and predict the future based on real events
- Do It Like Darwin to seek real, honest truth in a situation
- Think With System 2 to think analytically instead of emotionally
- Peer Review Your Perspectives to understand the consensus view and why you might differ
- Find Your Own Flaws to scrutinize yourself before others can
- Separate Correlation From Causation to understand what truly needs to be addressed to solve a problem
Decision Making For Speed And Context
To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
- Abraham Maslow
A mental model is a blueprint to emphasize important aspects of whatever you're facing, and it defines context, background and direction.
Without them, you are only able to see the haphazard, individual elements with no connection to each other.
A chef is someone who has the mental models of flavor profiles, what basic ingredients are needed for a stock or a sauce, typical techniques for different meats, and the conventional beverage and food pairings.
You can think of mental models as life heuristics or guidelines to evaluate and comprehend.
Mental models aren't perfect representations of the world around us, they serve to separate the signal from the noise for a specific perspective.
Too few mental models limit your capability to comprehend.
MM #10: What Would Bayes Do to calculate probabilities and predict the future based on real events
Humans, despite being terrible at it, always try to predict the future, usually through guessing.
When predicting an outcome, it's difficult for us to filter out the noise from concrete signals.
Use Bayes Theorem as a guiding comprehension framework - it's a formula for predicting what might happen if other meaningful events have occured.
The essence of it is that, if A occurs, and it is related to B, then you can generate a tangible probability.
The formula is the following:
- Tornados are rare (1%)
- Heavy winds are fairly common (10%)
- 90% of tornadoes cause heavy winds
What's the probability of there being a tornado if there are heavy winds? It's 9%.
P(tornado | heavy winds) = P(heavy winds | tornado) * P(tornado) / P(heavy winds)
= 0.9 * 0.01 / 0.1
P(king | face card) = P(face card | king) * P(king) / P(face card)
= 1 * (4 / 52) / (12 / 52)
Stop making assumptions and ask, "What would Bayes do?"
Don't make assumptions, focus on what is really happening, and spit out a probability to help you make decisions and evaluate.
MM #11: Do It Like Darwin to seek real, honest truth in a situation
Seeing clearly means seeing both sides of the table.
The basic guideline of Darwin's Golden rule is to be more than just open to contradicting or opposing ideas but give them equal attention as your own assumptions.
Darwin completely immersed himself in evidence or explanations that went against his findings because he was aware that the human mind is inclined to dispose of contrary views.
Ignoring or brushing over the opposing view creates a mental dishonesty.
Darwin was immune to confirmation bias.
His stances is related to intellectual honestly and the maxim "strong opinions but held lightly". It assumes intellectual humility: being unattached to any stances or theories and simply following the evidence.
Darwin forces a dialog of skepticism back onto himself instead of onto others in defensiveness.
He would direct questions inward, such as: What do you know? Are you sure? Why are you sure? How can it be proved? What potential errors have you made?
Treat all the evidence you receive by the same standards of reliability. You must be circumspect of all evidence, and this means tending toward high-quality information more than high quantities of information.
MM #12: Think With System 2 to think analytically instead of emotionally
This mental model was popularized by Daniel Kahneman - Thinking Fast & Slow.
Daniel says our brain can be modeled as pair of systems.
System 1 is "fast" effortless thinking, automatic, intuitive, instinctive, subconscious. It's "recipe" thinking, and uses low energy because it's "cached". Example are riding a bicycle, recognizing a friend, crying, or fight-or-flight instinct. It acts upon heuristics built from past experiences. This system is focused on doing the fast, efficient thing versus doing the slow, more beneficial in the long run thing.
System 2 is "slow" thinking, analytical, contemplative, laborious. deliberate, methodical, conscious. It uses more energy because it perform more computation and can be more tiring or draining. It's decision-making thinking, that usually triggers in situations that have high consequences, like choosing a college, buying a house, or quitting your job. It's also generally the default system in situations that require more conscious awareness, like driving through a foggy night, striving to hear someone across a noisy room, or learning a complex subject that's new to you.
This means that our biology optimizes for System 1, because it's more efficient. This makes us more susceptible to accepting things at first glance, to not thinking skeptically, being more gullible, and acting impulsively without considering consequences.
System 1 shines the most in dangerous situations when urgency and quickness are paramount. It's also extremely useful when you reach expertise in a skill. A virtuous musician plays their instrument using System 1, it's automated and instinctive, just like walking and talking are to most humans.
In absence of every day dangers in our lives, System 2 is becoming more and more preferable as the dominant thinking tool.
Thinking clearly isn't an instinct to us. Humans are all about survival, pleasure, food, sleep, and avoiding pain. We see the world much more accurately at second glance.
MM #13: Peer Review Your Perspectives to understand the consensus view and why you might differ
The goal of peer reviews is to guard inaccuracies or omissions in a final work and to offer alternative viewpoints that could help make the results clearer, more relevant, or precise.
The more vicious a peer review against your work might be, the more helpful it could be.
The best peer reviews leave no stones unturned and make sure the originator is presenting work that's been subjected to as much examination as possible.
Collecting data points from all sides leads you closer to the reality. The more different the sources the better.
Subjecting your ideas to peer review increases your legitimacy and authenticity.
MM #14: Find Your Own Flaws to scrutinize yourself before others can
Treat your opinions and perspectives as assumptions that must be verified.
Don't become emotionally invested in their outcome, or defensive about being correct. Seek the honest truth.
One strategy to achieve this would be to, instead of trying to prove your perspective, flip it on its head and try to prove it wrong.
Instead of a best-case scenario, paint an apocalyptic worst-case scenario.
If you want your opinion to fail, what's the easiest way that can happen?
Go against the confirmation bias.
Starting from a conclusion limits the breadth of perspectives. Start with a premise and draw conclusion fro evidence.
MM #15: Separate Correlation From Causation to understand what truly needs to be addressed to solve a problem
Storks deliver babies?
Just because two things occur simultaneously doesn't mean that there is a causal relationship between them.
Imagine seeing a chart with two lines, depicting the daily sales of sunglasses and ice cream, respectively. By looking solely at that chart, one would say that one might cause the other, where the truth is that warm weather causes both.
Two events with similar patterns or related behaviors do not have to be causing each other.
Correlation shows relation in terms of trait or trend. It says nothing about the underlying reason.
"These two things are generally doing the same thing at the same time"
Causation is an effort to establish the reason things happen. → cause and effect
"This thing changed, which in turn cause this other thing to change"
The reality is messy though, sometimes there isn't an obvious cause. Sometimes we must look past the immediate reason (the proximate cause) and search for a more fundamental basis (the root cause).
The root and proximate causes have the "reason for the reason" relationship.
When finding the true cause, go past the immediate situation and examine the sequence of factors and cues, thinking or emotional patterns, or environmental elements that set the groundwork.
A useful technique for examining cause and effect is to apply the "5 Why's", a technique originating in Toyota factories.© nem035RSS