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  • The Great Mental Models

  • General Thinking Concepts
  • Written by: Shane Parrish
  • Narrated by: Shane Parrish
  • Length: 3 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (389 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The old saying goes, "To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail". But anyone who has done any kind of project knows a hammer often isn't enough. 

The more tools you have at your disposal, the more likely you'll use the right tool for the job - and get it done right. 

The same is true when it comes to your thinking. The quality of your outcomes depends on the mental models in your head. And most people are going through life with little more than a hammer. 

Until now. 

The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts is the first book in The Great Mental Models series designed to upgrade your thinking with the best, most useful and powerful tools so you always have the right one on hand. 

This volume details nine of the most versatile all-purpose mental models you can use right away to improve your decision making, your productivity, and how clearly you see the world. You will discover what forces govern the universe and how to focus your efforts so you can harness them to your advantage, rather than fight with them or, worse yet, ignore them.

©2019 Shane Parrish (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about The Great Mental Models

Average Customer Ratings
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  • RM
  • 27-05-19

a good summary of other books

This is a good book for those who haven't read books like thinking fast and slow, fooled by randomness, predictably irrational and the likes. For me it was a summary of all learning I got from the other books. It didn't get a 4 because the first few chapters were excruciatingly boring and slow. The author kept repeating the obvious several times and in many different words, all saying the same things. Finally I speeded the play back to 1.65 times but still could spot repetitive statements. The last few chapters had something new in them but since I was driving while listening couldn't slow down to 1.2 times and perhaps missed some parts like Hanlon's razor.

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

The narration is horrible

i struggled to finish it because of the narrators lifeless, anaesthetic voice. he draws attention away from the content and just cant hold your mind. its a struggle

5 people found this helpful

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Good start to a series of cognitive techniques

Shane lucidly explains some basic thinking concepts and illustrates them pretty well. Since this volume deals only with general thinking concepts, it's somewhat rudimentaryand draws from 'Thinking Fast and Slow' which is a much harder read. I especially enjoyed his explanations of Hanlon's razor and second order thinking. A short and engaging read, I would recommend this to anyone who's looking for simple techniques to improve their decision making skills.

2 people found this helpful

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Awesome and crisp

Was looking forward to simple explanations for mental models. Finally found it. Now eagerly waiting for next set. Have always been a big fan of blog from same author I. E. Farnam Street

2 people found this helpful

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Must read for all

An amazing book which shapes the way you should think. Breaks down a lot of fallacies in our basic logic and I would say undeniably amazing tools and mental models to learn. 10/10 would revisit this book in the future.

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A good read to understand human psychology

Got to know about Shane through a podcast with Kunal shah! Psychology understanding is rare in 2022. In whatever context of life this book can give you some edge to know people and make better decisions.

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insightful

A brief and nice collection of mental models needed to make sense of this world.

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Content is good but performance is subpar

Just because of voice performance I would recommend getting text book to read yourself

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Loved the book and the simplified concepts

The examples in the books were very good. Wish there were more such examples for better understanding.

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Underwhelming, overrated

Most likely you would be already familiar with the concepts here. I expected new insights but the content is rather basic for the subject

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  • Peter
  • 14-04-19

A dissapointing debut

I enjoy the Farnam street blog so see that he was releasing an audiobook intrigued me immediately. I really want to like this release but its just underwhelming. This volume lacked both depth and breadth of the mental models discussed, adding nothing to his blog entries. It feels like he's reading a textbook or class notes, dropping the terms and maybe the most barebones of examples. The content is far to dry and academic for a casual listener and far to shallow and basic to really help the people who are aware of these concepts but want to really integrate them into their mental tool kit.

In his chapter on probabilistic thinking, for example, he barely discusses things like hindsight bias, the gamblers fallacy isn't mentioned, hints at black swan event but doesn't follow that thread, his discussion of distribution curves assumes people know what a distribution curve is in general and how the normal distribution works, but describes the curves as if we don't, serving no one in the process and not discussing things like outliers, how to use them in decision making etc... its mostly just describing the terms, as if answering an exam question. After listing to it, I would have no idea

I think a lot of these votes are voting for the author (who I like) and not the work, which I cannot recommend at this time (just read his blog). You are much better off spending your money/credit on more specific books, like Thinking in Bets or A Drunkards Walk (for probabilistic thinking) and really hone that mental model. I really hope the subsequent volumes of this series expand and really add the depth and cohesion these models need to be properly integrated into better overall decision making.

165 people found this helpful

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  • Maverick
  • 11-04-19

Good concept. Too short / limited in detail.

Entire book is ~3 hours. The concept is to review various mental models, introduce the concept, and describe how to use. It is a good concept, and mentioned as part of a series of books.

Given the brevity of the book, I would save my money and review the blog instead.

88 people found this helpful

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  • The Rainking
  • 11-04-19

I wanted to like this.

As a reader of the FS blog, I was a bit disappointed with this audio book. A lot of the content felt like filler and the narration made me want to fall asleep.

Honestly, I think I'd rather have the posts on mental models narrated from the blog and available in a single book vs. many books in a series. Much more signal and less noise.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas D. Trebes
  • 20-04-19

Excellent! Except...

Shane has an excellent weekly blog I recommend highly at fs.blog that I’ve read for a couple of years so I looked forward to the release of the TGMM audiobook. It doesn’t disappoint.

I agree with another reviewer that it needs a pdf or, my preference, would be for Amazon to offer a package of the audiobook with the book itself, not a Kindle version since I don’t like reading on one. It wouldn’t be possible here since Audible was given a 6 month head start before the book is available.

A couple of areas for improvement in the next release after listening to this one twice. First, let us know when you’re moving from one mental model to the next since I thought the segues were weak.

Second, the audiobook is short at under 3 1/2 hours so volumes could be combined. It’s great for Shane and Audible that I will buy 5 audiobooks but not for me. However, in the true spirit of Hanlon’s Razor I’ll assume there was a reason to do it this way.

Since I am a member of the club that believes authors should record their audiobooks so I thoroughly enjoyed Shane’s recording while keeping in mind my point to improve the movement from one mental model to the next.

In summary I suggest buying this audiobook and the ones that follow. In addition to seeing where my past thinking has gone astray and led to less than wise decisions I am confident the knowledge will at least make me stop and think through the ‘effects of the effects’, Second Order Thinking, of future decisions.

I am grateful for the time and effort Shane has put into this project. It has helped me and it will help many others.

Thank you.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Rajat K Bose
  • 10-04-19

Foundation Stones for Effective Thinking

This inaugural volume of the author's Great Mental Models lays down 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. This, I consider, would go a long way in its success as an audio-text.

While I liked Shane's vocal rendering of his own text a lot yet I would prefer the same being done by a professional narrator for it to be even more pleasurable for listeners like me who come from a different part of the world. This is not to say that his performance is not great but it definitely could be improved upon using a professional narrator.

Caveat: I am a member of the Learning Community of fs.blog run by the team led by the author, Shane Parrish and his team. I have been reading his blog for more than a few years.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Noah Waldman
  • 31-10-19

Waste of time

This book could have been summarized in about a page of text. And the reader's voice is grating and unpleasant.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 10-04-19

Great book just a bit short

Great content and very well narrated. Just a bit short and felt like it could be a bit longer.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Filip Starzik
  • 12-04-19

Awesome book

This is a expansion to the articles relating to mental models on Farnam Street blog.
Will definitely listen to it a few more times.
Ca't wait for Vol2.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Michael P Weber
  • 09-04-19

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-04-19

Great intro to mental models. I want more!

This is a great book I would recommend to anyone. The reader's voice lacks energy, but it's good enough to make listening for an hour or more at a time very doable.

4 people found this helpful

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  • bribribel
  • 05-11-19

Content great, reading is terrible

Please Shane get a professional reader!!! Content is fabulous. Listening to you reading is an ordeal.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 12-05-19

Missed the mark

Information is good, but didn't include a single example of these models being applied to everyday life, or regular use cases. I walked away understanding the models, but with know clue where I could start applying them myself.

28 people found this helpful

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  • A. Boyd-brent
  • 05-07-20

Please hire a professional voice over artist.

Amazing book, amazingly badly read.

Please hire a professional voice-over/audiobook artist. This will hugely improve the quality of this product.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremyü
  • 10-07-20

An interesting, if shallow, introduction.

Covers a few statistical and logical models to highlight why models are useful. Some good anecdotal examples to aid with recall, which is probably more appropriate for an audiobook than detailed examination.
I felt a little short-changed, but not a bad way to spend a few hours.

13 people found this helpful

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  • dalton
  • 06-06-19

Great book, however needs more value for the price

The book does what it says, covers each of the models and describes them well, however a lot of this information can be found on the internet; even on the FS website.
Is it worth £20? I still got it and will listen every so often. But still.... I hope the future volumes are longer than 3 hour by providing examples on examples and breaking them down (I need a deeper understanding of the models and would pay someone for their analysis) or reduce the price. Especially since I got 'Seeking Wisdom' for £40.

Look forward to further volumes.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Sam
  • 15-05-21

Mixed bag

As others said, the first 30-50% of this is very slow intro, which would be fine if it wasn't super short and therefore comparably poor value. The pricing of this item is ballsy - consider that 60hrs of Tolstoy costs you the same number of credits. All in all just about worthwhile, but better suited to students and teens than business execs. Hoping for more from the follow on titles in the series.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-10-19

Amazing, some of the models rock :)

I have been reading Shane’s blog for several months. And I was delighted how he introduced mental models.
So when the audiobook came out - I bought it :)
Amazing audiobook. I have listened to it four times now and still find new a applicable ideas (I am Managing Partner of one of the largest Bulgarian digital marketing agencies, and I am teaching classes to over 4 000 students per year).
Waiting for vol.2 of Great Mental Models :)

7 people found this helpful

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  • Matt Dolan
  • 09-05-21

Inspiring!

Loads of great stuff here - I'll be returning to it many times I'm sure.

As others have mentioned, the narration could be better. But it's not terrible - I had no problem following the argument. And it is always nice to hearing words in the voice of the author.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kristine K
  • 02-04-21

Recommend. Wish it had a PDF along with it

This book is a great overview of many mental models. I found it interesting and insightful as there are many MMs discussed, I wish it came with a PDF as a summary of all MMs covered so that I can go back to them quickly and remind myself what's involved (this is hard with audiobooks).

Re narration - I really don't see why people are complaining. This isn't a SciFi book where you need to be able to picture the scene and engage with characters. Not for a second of the book did I think that reading wasn't good (I listen at 1.5 speed so it was perfect for that, poorly narrated books usually are very tough at anything above 1, and I had no issues).

4 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 04-04-21

Interesting and insightful

Though not too indepth it is definately and interesting listen and hopefully opens up the mind to a more logical thought process.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Russell
  • 03-05-19

Dreadful Narration - Returning the book.

This review is not about the content. I couldn't get far enough to evaluate the content.

Parrish comes across so well in conversation but this performance is absolutely Monotone. Impossible to listen to. It's hard to tell where one sentence ends and the next starts. Think the robotic voice of Stephen Hawking but without the pauses.

I am 4 chapters in and returning it. I'll wait for a kindle version.

Note to the author: Get someone else to read the next editions and please consider redoing this one.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-06-20

Hard to listen

Monotone delivery made this book hard to follow. It took me a long time to get through and I don't think I assimilated much.
Will read the actual book one day.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anita
  • 25-01-20

Good topic hard listen

There was some really interesting material in this book but I found it a hard listen. Wasn’t easy to stay focused listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elisia
  • 05-04-22

Great content but hard listen-monotonous narration

Great content but the monotonous narration made me unable to finish. I got about an hour in before realising the info just wasn't sinking in because I couldn't keep my attention. absolutely the most boring narration. will be buying the actual book as the content is promising.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-05-21

Poorly read, lacking depth

Covers simple concepts using anecdotes and hypotheticals as examples. Not particularly engaging. The reader stumbles over words and lacks prosody.

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  • R. Bochorsky
  • 08-09-20

Annoying Narration

I feel like the narrator is talking to me like I’m 6 years old. The material is very good though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-05-20

A gem of logic

A treasure for those logically inclined and a must for those who aren't. For a book of this length, it packs a barrage of serious info, so pay attention!

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  • Rach
  • 14-02-20

Not all new concepts

This book was interesting. Not all of the mental models were new. But i picked up some new insights.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 19-01-20

Useful introduction to Mental Models

The book is informative. A PDF with the book would be useful. I look forward to the next book. This book seemed to end abruptly.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-12-19

short. expecting for the next volume

i never heard of something called a mental model before. neither did i have one that i used regularly. the circle of competence was an eye opener for me!!