This post is part of the 📖 Mental Models series.


Today, I am reading the 11th mental model Do It Like Darwin from How to See More Clearly chapter of the book Mental Models written by Author Peter Hollins.

TL;DR! 💬

Mental Models are like giving a treasure map to someone lost in the woods. They provide instant understanding, context, and most importantly, a path to the end destination. Now imagine having such a map for all problems and decisions in your life.

In this book Mental Models, author Peter Hollins discuss 30 mental models that billionaires/CEOs, Olympic athletes, and scientists use to think differently and avoid mistakes.

Battle information overwhelm, focus on what really matters, and make complex decisions with speed and confidence.


Yesterday, I finished reading the 10th mental model What Would Bayes Do (WWBD)?.

Chapter #2: How to See More Clearly

Mental Model #11:

Do It Like Darwin

Use to seek real, honest truth in a situation.

The basic guideline of Darwin’s golden rule was to be more than just open to contradicting or opposing ideas — indeed, Darwin gave it his fullest attention:

Darwin’s Golden Rule!
I had, also, during many years, followed a golden rule, namely, that whenever a published fact, a new observation or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from memory than favourable ones.


Darwin completely immersed himself in evidence or explanations that went against his findings because he was aware that the human mind is inclined to dispose of those contrary views.

If he didn’t investigate them as thoroughly as possible, he’d be likely to forget them, which created mental dishonesty.

Uniquely, Darwin forces a dialogue of scepticism back onto himself instead of onto others in defensiveness. He dispassionately questioned himself in a way that we reserve for others.

He would direct questions inward, such as:

  • What do you know?
  • Are you sure?
  • Why are you sure?
  • How can it be proved?
  • What potential errors could you have made?
  • Where is this conflicting view coming from and why?

Key Takeaways

  • You must be willing to follow the evidence blindly. Wherever it points is where you go. You’ll likely have a narrative in your head beforehand, but it’s something you have to put completely to the side.

  • Treat all the evidence you receive by the same standards of reliability. All of it needs to pass the same sniff test.

  • You must be cautious of all evidence, which means tending toward high-quality information more than high quantities of information.

Summary

  • Darwin was not a genius, but he did have one trait that set him apart from others: his undying devotion to truth.

  • In doing so, he developed his golden rule (and our mental model) of giving equal weight and attention to arguments and opinions that opposed his own.

  • Instead of growing defensive when presented with something that opposed him, he grew critical and sceptical toward himself. This radical open-mindedness puts aside confirmation bias and ego.


That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will read the 12th mental model Think With System 2, use to think analytically versus emotionally.

What mental models we've learned so far?
  1. Address “Important”; Ignore “Urgent”

    Identify and address important tasks, ignore urgent tasks. Delegate important but non-urgent task and delete not important and not urgent tasks.

  2. Visualize All the Dominoes

    Don’t stop your analysis once the most obvious situations are articulated. Consider as many long-term possible ramifications as you can. Think twice about what you’re doing, and it helps to eliminate rash decisions.

  3. Make Reversible Decisions

    If you want to make the best decision possible, you can go ahead and use reversible decisions to learn exactly what you need to know.

  4. Seek “Satisfaction

    We need far fewer things than we originally thought and that our desires are masquerading as needs. Use Seek “Satisfaction” to achieve your priorities and ignore what doesn’t matter by creating a default choice.

  5. Stay Within 40-70%

    Utilize this mental model by intentionally consuming less information and even overgeneralizing — this means not looking at the subtleties of your options.

  6. Minimize Regret

    Minimize Regret. Jeff Bezos developed what he calls the regret minimization framework. In it, he asks one to visualize themselves at age 80 and ask if they would regret making (or not making) a decision. This simplifies decisions by making them about one metric: regret.

  7. Ignore “Black Swans”

    A black swan event is an entirely unpredictable event that comes out of nowhere. Doing so skews all data and beliefs, and people start to take the black swan into account as a new normal. But these are just outliers that should be ignored.

  8. Look for Equilibrium Points

    This mental model is about noticing trends in progress.

    When you first start something, you go from zero to one—that’s an infinite rate of progress. Then you go from one to two, two to three, and so on, and the rate of progress slows, and the returns start diminishing.

    Somewhere around there is an equilibrium point that truly represents what the average mean will be. Don’t make the mistake of not waiting for it.

  9. Wait for the Regression to the Mean

    This mental model is the final mental model about seeing the whole picture in terms of information.

    A change without reason for the change is not a change; it’s just a deviation. As such, it doesn’t represent what will continue to happen in the future.

    A regression to the mean is when things settle back down and resume what they were doing before—this is representative of reality.

  10. What Would Bayes Do (WWBD)?

    Bayes’ Theorem is something that does allow us to conclude the future: based on probabilities and taking into account events that have already occurred. All you need are the rough probabilities of three elements to plug into the Bayes’ formula, and you will come to a more accurate conclusion than so-called experts. This is basic probabilistic thinking.

  11. Do It Like Darwin

    Darwin was not a genius, but he did have one trait that set him apart from others: his undying devotion to truth.

    In doing so, he developed his golden rule (and our mental model) of giving equal weight and attention to arguments and opinions that opposed his own.

    Instead of growing defensive when presented with something that opposed him, he grew critical and sceptical toward himself. This radical open-mindedness puts aside confirmation bias and ego.

Mental Models: 30 Thinking Tools That Separate the Average from the Exceptional. Improved Decision-Making, Logical Analysis, and Problem-Solving

Author(s): Peter Hollins

Short Blurb: 30 Practical and applicable guidelines to think smarter, faster, and with expert insight (even if … Read more
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Part 11 of 29 in the 📖 Mental Models book series.

Series Start | Mental Models - Day 10 | Mental Models - Day 12



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