Is coming up with mental models random?


Creating mental models is not a random process. Shane Parrish and his guests on The Knowledge Project podcast explain that mental models are developed through a combination of reading, curiosity, reflection on past experiences, and a systematic approach to learning from both successes and failures.

For instance, Mike Maples describes his method of creating mental models for investing by conducting thorough analyses of past investment decisions, which includes revisiting initial introductions, notes, and subsequent outcomes of various investments. Through this process, he identified patterns and insights that formed the basis of his mental models, showing that it’s a deliberate, reflective process rather than a random occurrence 1.

Similarly, Scott Page emphasizes that mental models are used to map the messy and complex reality into structured, logical mathematical models, again highlighting a deliberate, structured approach to developing these frameworks 2.

Therefore, the creation of mental models is characterized by deliberate learning and reflection, not by randomness.

Creating Mental Models

Mike explains how he came up with mental models for investing in startups by analyzing past mistakes and successes, and understanding what questions reveal the answers that would cause you to say yes. He emphasizes the importance of not breathing your own fumes and not repeating avoidable mistakes.

The Knowledge Project

Mike Maples — The Knowledge Project #77