The Mental Model Fallacy

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  • The mental model fallacy is that it’s worth it to read descriptions of mental models, written and aggregated by non-practitioners, in the pursuit of self-improvement and success.
  • The second half of this assertion is false: you cannot learn the mental models that are responsible for success through reading and thinking. The reason for this is the same reason that attempting to learn how to ride a bicycle by reading a book is stupid. The most valuable mental models do not survive codification. They cannot be expressed through words alone.
  • The answer is that the mental models that make Buffett and Munger so effective are divided into two types: mental models that are explicit knowledge and mental models that are tacit knowledge.
  • Similarly, the idea that knowledge can be divided into explicit and tacit is not new: the Ancient Greeks called the former epistêmê and the latter technê, loosely translated into ‘knowledge’ and ‘art’.
  • Read from the source material of master practitioners, copy their actions, climb their skill trees, and reflect through trial and error. Don’t read third-party accounts of technê. And stop reading this blog if my career goals diverge from yours.