(please read “What are Mental Models” to understand the emphasis on “MY” and why I include useful)
Unfortunately, nothing can be 100% accurate / verified. Also, in the Soros writing, “According to Popper, scientific laws are hypothetical in character; they cannot be verified, but they can be falsified by empirical testing… One failed test is sufficient to falsify a theory, but no amount of confirming instances is sufficient to verify it.” However, while nothing can be 100% verified, there is a spectrum of accuracy that I believe roughly follows academic disciplines. When I am thinking through mental models, I categorize them in these broad buckets and following subcategories. This provides a rough understanding around the level of accuracy of a mental model I am thinking through. (Physical sciences are generally more accurate than social sciences with social sciences generally being more accurate than humanities)
Is this an all-encompassing list? Not even close. Models will be added and they may be subtracted. The below provides an educational framework that will hopefully allow me (and you) to understand how the world works. My goal is to build out a database of essays around these models that I can refer back to. Most of what I have listed I have read about and have some knowledge and thoughts on. The next step is to transcribe those thoughts and continue learning new models.
A few notes:
- There is a unity to science that isn’t appreciated and I don’t think explored enough. As you traverse from the physical sciences to the humanities they are effectively all linked and become more and more complex. This complexity creates the opportunities for more errors and is why I have grouped them in the aforementioned categories. However, just know that when I am exploring group think or sunk costs there will be much more that could be explored that isn’t feasible to do so in an essay. To fully appreciate the increased complexity I will quote a book description (yes…a book description of a book that hasn’t been released at the time of this writing). From Robert Sapolsky’s “Behave”: the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. What goes on in a person’s brain a second before the behavior happens? Then he pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell triggers the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones act hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli which trigger the nervous system? By now, he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened. Sapolsky keeps going–next to what features of the environment affected that person’s brain, and then back to the childhood of the individual, and then to their genetic makeup. Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than that one individual. How culture has shaped that individual’s group, what ecological factors helped shape that culture, and on and on, back to evolutionary factors thousands and even millions of years old.”
- Most of these models are “Google-able” but some such as “myths and stories” won’t be immediately understood. In that particular case I am referring to Yuval Harari’s Sapiens book.
- In some cases you will see models appear in two categories, that is intentional and helps provide additional context on its source and development
- I will prove to be woefully inadequate in describing quantum physics (and most of the physical sciences), but I do think there are broad principles contained within that field that are useful in day to day decision making. In those cases, I will be exploring less of the technical side and more of the takeaways.