Friday, September 21, 2012

Why we SHOULD take up the Model Thinking Class

When you observe your thinking abstractly and objectively , you will see mathematical models working continuously in your mind , weighing the choices you have and don't have, choices you can and want to have. But if you feel its scope is only limited to YOUR rational thinking , and  YOUR actions , its time to come out of that blackbox. 

Heard of the recent exodus from Bangalore and other cities of migrants from the Northeast? They were reacting to threatening SMS messages warning of violent retaliation from Muslims.  Here is a link to an article on the topic. Read it carefully and understand how the author  reaches the conclusion using Model Thinking.

I know for some of you might be interested enough to continue reading further before clicking on the link above, so here is a short and sweet example : 

Let us consider a common real life situation :

You are standing at a Bus stop waiting for a bus . A private Jeep stops a few meters from the stop and the cleaner starts shouting the name of exact stop where you want to go. 

You are in a dilemma whether to take lift in the Jeep. In the meantime, one person gets into the vehicle. You rethink your decision. The cleaner shouts again.
Another person gets in. You change your mind and get into the bus. 

Are you the only person who took that split second decision? Well , probably not. What happened with you would have probably had happened 
with the other people who got in before / after you.

What your brain did there is mathematically described as the Standing Ovation Model. A more direct example of it would be a theater full of people where the probability of maximum people standing to appreciate the stage performance is directly proportional to the no of people standing in the first few rows. Otherwise , why do you think celebrities often go to the theater and sit on first row on First Day First Show ?

Continuing with our bus example ... So exactly what kept you initially from taking lift in the Jeep ? Probably you were thinking :

  • Bloody private drivers , I 'd rather use the government bus service. Why pay him? <=> Is it in my set of principles to take the lift? (YES/NO)
  • Everyone has their own way of earning , why blame the poor. 
  • Is the driver / cleaner genuine ? (not drunk , not a kidnapper ... categorization )  (YES/NO)
  • Is the vehicle in good condition ? (YES/NO)
  • just get in .. who knows when the bus will come. ( Even if your mind made it sound cool at the end , you still change your mind weighing all factors TOGETHER, right? )

This is the Decision Tree Model in your mind. Where every branch had an associated weight.

So, are you interested in more of this stuff ? Do take up the online course on "Model Thinking" by prof. Scott E. Page  by visiting : 

The course is split over weeks, so working professionals can take it up too. Complete the assignments and get a free certificate of completion from foreign university. The course is light-weight and interesting as it goes across all domains, from day to day life to technology , finance and bureaucracy. 

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