Mental models

Here’s a nice collection of mental models:

These are some mental models I find useful. They’re rooted in decades of experience of thousands of experts – a modern equivalent of folk wisdom. Mental models are useful to quickly and correctly reason about seemingly intractable problems. They require quite a bit of intuition to properly internalize, but once you’ve internalized them they’re relatively easy to apply. They’re also easy to forget in the moment – use this post as a checklist when thinking about complex problems.

Of those that I read through so far, I found the Planning fallacy the most useful:

Planning fallacy – the observation that humans are overly optimistic when predicting success of their undertakings. Empirically, the average case turns out to be worse than the worst case human estimate.
Corollary: Be really pessimistic when estimating. Assume the average case will be slightly worse than the hypothetical worst case.
Corollary: When estimating time, upgrade the units and double the estimate (e.g. convert “one week” to “two months”).


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