The Great Mental Models Project

The Great Mental Models project is the clearest way to change the way you see the world, avoid problems before they happen, and make better decisions.

The series consists of four volumes that cover the core, timeless, ideas that you should have learned in school and applies them to real life.

This instant Wall-Street Journal bestseller is the breakthrough guide you need to improve your thinking.

Get your copy of Volume 1 (Amazon | Audible | Kindle) and Volume 2 (Amazon | Audible | Kindle)

Here is a quick map to what’s in this article:

A Look Inside Volume 1

General Thinking Concepts covers the first 9 mental models in the series. A thorough understanding of these 9 models will, without a doubt, improve the way you approach problems, consider opportunities, and make difficult decisions.

A chapter is dedicated to each model (see a sample chapter on Probabilistic Thinking), dissecting it in three ways. First, we define it. Second, we provide real-world examples where this model has been used, (or in some cases, show the consequences of where it was ignored.) And last, we offer suggestions for how these models can be applied in your own life — where they really matter.

The project is more than an encyclopedia of mental models, it changes thinking and behaviors.

Volume 1: Bonus Material

Volume Two: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology

Building on the idea that learning worldly wisdom improves our decisions and our outcomes, volume 2 of The Great Mental Models explains the foundational concepts of physics, chemistry, and biology, demonstrating the value of having these models in your toolkit.

These fundamental concepts are everywhere, and if you want to make decisions based on how the world really works, thereby improving your chances of success, then these are critical models to understand. Each chapter explains the key concepts and then explores how to use them as a model by examining historical examples. (See a sample chapter on Cooperation).

Where to Order

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

Real World Reviews

Here is what some people have said about volume 1 and 2 so far:

“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

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

Broadly informative. This book contains a wealth of information which is elegantly sourced from a broad array of knowledge bases and studies. This information is presented in a way that is elegant and easy to digest.”
— Benjamin Krotin

“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. His blog already documents a subset of models, but in this book Shane goes in even more depth with rich examples of each under the umbrella of ‘General Thinking Concepts’, e.g. Occam’s Razor. This is the first in a 5-part series: the encyclopedia of the big ideas from the big disciplines. One that I hope to be recognizable on bookshelves around the world. You owe yourself this book.”
— Simon Eskildsen

“This book is a natural complement to Shane’s blog. It teaches the reader about important mental models in an easy to learn manner. Shane has a wonderful ability to discern what models are most important to decision-makers and to teach the reader the key principles behind these models. This book is a great thing for any active decision-maker to have – in any industry where you make frequent decisions with no “right answer.” I highly recommend it!”
— Paul Ciampa

“The Great Mental Models series is a stunning achievement in centralizing the many models for thought in an organized fashion … The encyclopedic content is complex but easily digested- I’ve found myself referencing the first volume on numerous occasions.”
— Sam

I can truly say 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

“A great book, short and to the point. A less restrained author would probably elaborate more about the concepts, but in my view, the short and concise chapters are what makes this book appealing. I can easily pass this book on to friends and family, who are not one bit interested in learning this stuff, and I bet they would swallow it as I did.
— Amazon Customer

“I was introduced to the mental modal concept in Poor Charlies Almanac. This series takes in even further. I have enjoyed reading this book and learned new concepts in the process.”
— David E. Marr

Beautifully designed, interesting, and delightful book I will be returning to for years to come.
— Amazon Customer

“An obscure review title for a well written, timeless book. My life is changing for the better using models thinking.
— Amazon Customer

“Oh boy. I didn’t know you can make mental models so much fun! I usually think those mental models are academic psychological things (read boring), but this book is really great and easy to understand.
— Amazon Customer

Recommend this book to anyone wanting to think using Mental Models. A very well constructed stories and highlights the different mental models in easy to understand manner. Sometimes we already apply some of these techniques without knowing.”
— Venki

“The Great Mental Models series is a stunning achievement in centralizing the many models for thought in an organized fashion … The encyclopedic content is complex but easily digested- I’ve found myself referencing the first volume on numerous occasions.”
— Sam

“Don’t be deterred by the subtitle. This instant classic is highly relevant for all thinking people, not just those in the sciences. Shane Parrish and the Farnam Street team did a wonderful job highlighting critical mental models and bringing them to life with powerful real-world examples. Well worth your time. I look forward to volume 3. ”
— Christina Mchugh

The foundation stones upon which you start building your repertoire of mental models that you would use to arrive at right decisions and/or solving problems. Very neat chapters are there describing each topic in sufficient detail with good examples. The topics are explained coherently and in simple language.”
— Rajat K Bose

An efficient path to wisdom … No need to re-create the wheel. This book summarizes what other people have already figured out and presents it in an efficient and easy to understand way so that it can immediately be used to improve your success in life.”
— Michael P Weber

“Want to learn? Read This! This should be a standard text for high school and University students. If you want to learn more, faster and retain it longer, then this should be on your reading list. Highly recommend. ”
— Code Cubitt

The Bible for better learning and decision making. Shane does a phenomenal job breaking down how to create a solid framework for learning, understanding, and making better decisions. I can’t wait for next volume. This has been my favorite listen of 2019!”
— Casey Herron

“I had my doubts about this as I got started, but this book was really great. I started listening on my way to and from work, and the concepts often helped me approach problems in the day. Good recap of smart thinking in an entertaining way. I need to try to find the support materials as some of the concepts go fast – he fits a lot in. – and if you get distracted for a minute you’ll miss good stuff. I did this a couple of times thinking about how to apply these concepts in my life.”
— Tiffany

… the deeper I got, the better the book was. It’s a difficult read but highly valuable. Great critical thinking book, which I look forward to the next series coming out.”
— Amazon Customer

Best Minute-for-Minute Book on Audible. Dense with practical tools. This is a great, short listen that you’ll keep coming back to, if you’re interested in building the decision-making meta-skill.”
— Mitchell

This is a terrific book, and what I’ve been looking for for a long time. I’ve studied people that I admire from psychologists, two businessman, two inventors like Elon musk. This is the distill book of their wisdom and has some terrific metal models that go further into depth with the great things that they have to say! ”
— James Cannon