Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful
Gabriel Weinberg

I’ll offer a couple:

The Broken Window Fallacy — A parable told by 19th century economist Frédéric Bastiat which illustrates a tendency to focus on effects which are proximate to a cause (“seen”) and ignore effects which are further removed in time and space (“unseen”) from the cause. Related to Systems Thinking. Related to The Law of Unintended Consequences. (

Primum Non Nocere (First Do No Harm) — From medicine, an ethical maxim to counter the human bias for intervention. We tend to overestimate our understanding of complex systems. And we tend place a high moral value on intentions over consequences. These factors create a strong incentive to “do something” in every situation, when often the best course is to do nothing. Primum Non Nocere attempts to counter this incentive by placing an explicit ethical obligation on the practitioner. Beyond medicine this maxim can be applied to any complex system, including economic and political systems (although it rarely is). Related to The Law of Unintended Consequences. (

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