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Business & Economics Decision-making & Problem Solving

The Great Mental Models Volume 1: General Thinking Concepts

by (author) Rhiannon Beaubien & Shane Parrish

Latticework Publishing Inc.
Initial publish date
Dec 2018
Decision-Making & Problem Solving, Personal & Practical Guides, Success
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2018
    List Price

Classroom Resources

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Solve problems. Think with clarity. Achieve your goals.


The secret to better decision-making is learning things that won’t change. Mastering a small number of versatile concepts with broad applicability enables you to rapidly grasp new areas, identify patterns, and understand how the world works. Don’t waste your time on knowledge with an expiry date - focus on the fundamentals.


The Farnam Street latticework of mental models gives you the durable cognitive tools you need to avoid problems and make better decisions.


A mental model is a representation of how something works. Constructing mental models helps you to navigate the world efficiently and intelligently. Time and time again, great thinkers such as Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett have found mental models indispensable in both solving problems and preventing them in the first place. Cultivating stronger mental models is one of the most powerful things you can do to become a better thinker.






The Great Mental Models: Volume 1 covers essential general thinking models.


Formal education doesn’t prepare you to make decisions in the real world. This volume details nine of the most versatile, all-purpose mental models they didn’t teach you in school which you can use right away to improve how clearly you understand the world. Discover the forces governing the universe and how to focus your efforts so you can harness them to your advantage, rather than fight them or worse yet— ignore them.


Volume 1 will teach you how to:


  • Eliminate blind spots by learning to distinguish between maps and territory
  • Increase your chances of success in any endeavor by staying within your circle of competence
  • Unleash creative ability and navigate complex situations with ease through first principles thinking
  • Expand your conception of what’s possible by carrying out thought experiments
  • See opportunities others miss using second-order thinking
  • Improve the accuracy of your decisions with probabilistic thinking
  • Invert problems to avoid disaster
  • Leverage Occam’s razor to bypass unnecessary complexity

And so much more...




Mastering The Great Mental Models helps you thrive in an uncertain world. The right cognitive tools prepare you for any type of challenge. From parenting to healthy eating, relationships to personal productivity, and from learning to product design, this book will give you new lenses for understanding life.



A wonderful resource you’ll keep returning to year after year. As you incorporate the models in this book into your mental toolbox, you’ll see the world with fresh eyes.







Praise for The Great Mental Models series:


“I’m really glad this exists in the world and I can see that I will be recommending it often.”


— Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, founder and CEO of Automattic




“If you’ve read Charlie Munger’s Almanack this is the book you deeply crave in its wake. … Learn the big ideas from the big disciplines and you’ll be able to twist and turn problems in interesting ways at unprecedented speeds. … You owe yourself this book.”


— Simon Eskildsen



“This is what non-fiction books should aspire to be like. Informative, concise, universal, practical, visual, sharing stories and examples for context. Definitely, a must-read if you’re into universal multi-disciplinary thinking.”


— Carl Rannaberg



“I can truly say it is one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting lost in. I loved the book and the challenges to conventional wisdom and thinking it presents.”


— Rod Berryman



“Want to learn? Read This! This should be a standard text for high school and university students.”


— Code Cubitt

About the authors

Rhiannon Beaubien is a writer and the managing editor at Farnam Street Media where she leads the development of The Great Mental Models book series. She is based out of Ottawa, Canada and regularly explores how to apply the timeless ideas behind mental models on She worked at a Canadian intelligence agency for more than ten years and is also an author of fiction.

Rhiannon Beaubien's profile page

Shane is the founder of Farnam Street, and currently resides in Ottawa, Canada. Farnam Street (FS) is one of the world’s fastest growing websites, dedicated to helping our readers master the best of what other people have already figured out. We curate, examine and explore the timeless ideas and mental models that history’s brightest minds have used to live lives of purpose. Our readers include students, teachers, CEOs, coaches, athletes, artists, leaders, followers, politicians and more. They’re not defined by gender, age, income, or politics but rather by a shared passion for avoiding problems, making better decisions, and lifelong learning.

Shane Parrish's profile page