7 Mental Models for Learning To Understand More Than The bare Minimum - Deepstash

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Understanding mental models

Understanding mental models

Learning is not as easy as owning a device, internet connection and a page full of articles and videos.

Without a proper strategy, you may know isolated facts about everything, but it won't positively contribute to your future development. Understanding the seven mental models for learning can help to gain knowledge coherently.


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Circle of Competence

Circle of Competence

We think we know much more than we really do.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger developed the Circle of Competence. This mental model helps define what you know and what your limitations are. It enables you to avoid making decisions about subjects you don't fully understand.


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Thought experiment

Thought experiment

The purpose of the thought experiment is to delve deeper into a given field to improve your knowledge, uncover what you don't know, and strengthen your understanding of the world.

For example, a madman has tied 5 innocent people to a trolley track. An empty trolley car is fastly approaching the people. You can pull a lever and divert the trolley to another track, but there is 1 person tied to the other track. What would you do?

The idea is to uncover what you actively think about the situation.


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Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor

This mental model explains that when we have two explanations for the same thing, we should prefer the simpler explanation.

For example, when you're learning how to operate a complicated machine or reading a book in a field where you are a beginner, find the simpler explanation to absorb the material and start executing quickly.


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Availability heuristic

The availability heuristic states that we make decisions and form conclusions based on the most recent information we gathered.

For example, if everybody starts investing in an "innovative" fund, you might do it yourself because of everything you've recently heard. But you may fail to ask critical questions and make proper calculations.

This is also important as it shows that what you see is not everything that is available. The best-selling books are the most available, but there are also others that might be better and can teach us more.


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Hindsight bias

Hindsight bias

Hindsight bias is when we see past events as being predictable. But that is because we now know what happened.

When you give feedback to a person about something he did, you know the facts. That means how you frame your criticism can be distorted. You might have done the same thing if you were in his position at the time.

When you create a change in your organisation that has a positive outcome, you may say you knew it all along. But in the long run, we start to think our predictions are perfect, and we may think we don't need to learn more.


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Common knowledge

Common knowledge

Common knowledge tries to describe the things everyone knows. For example, knowledge about money, that our planet circles around the sun, that 1 + 1 = 2.

However, common knowledge won't get you far in life. When you want to succeed in life, you want to stand out because you compete against thousands of others.

Outlining the common knowledge in your field and learning extra things will help you to seem unique and desirable.


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The Feynman learning technique

The Feynman learning technique is not a mental model but a way to approach a subject to learn it faster and better.

  • Pretend you're teaching a concept to a child. Write down in simple terms everything you know about the subject.
  • Identify the gaps. Go over what you've written down and see how you can improve it. What's missing or unclear.
  • Organise and simplify. Create a better way to explain the concept.
  • Transmit. Communicate your idea to someone to get feedback.


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