Super Thinking Book Summary - Super Thinking Book explained in key points
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Super Thinking summary

Gabriel Weinberg Lauren McCann

The Big Book of Mental Models

4.3 (533 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Super Thinking by Gabriel Weinberg with Lauren McCann is a book that teaches readers to think more effectively. It offers strategies to improve decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, and more.

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    Super Thinking
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    Super thinking leverages tried-and-true concepts to help us explain the world and make better decisions.

    We make dozens of decisions every day. They aren’t all big decisions, but enough bad calls can cumulatively result in overdrawn bank accounts, unhappy marriages and dead-end jobs. That means that every decision counts. 

    Life, however, is full of complicated conundrums and ambiguous evidence. Making up our minds often feels less like an act of reason than a stab in the dark. 

    Surely there’s a better way? Well, there is – super thinking, a way of understanding the world that relies on proven cognitive blueprints to make sense of the jumble of data out there. 

    Let’s unpack that. Every industry has its own mental models that allow practitioners to create “mental pictures” of a problem. These aren’t one-off snapshots, but techniques that can be reapplied time and again – that’s the “model” part. Put differently, they’re recurring concepts that explain the world.

    Most mental models are pretty rarefied and used only by specialists. Others are much more widely applicable. These super models can help us make sense of everyday life. Take critical mass. Physicists use it to describe the minimum amount of nuclear mass needed to create a critical state that triggers a nuclear chain reaction. But it’s also a handy model in other contexts, like that of technological change. 

    Fax machines were invented in the 1840s, but languished in obscurity for over a century. Why? Their cost meant only a few wealthy individuals and organizations could afford to adopt the technology. That affected the perceived value of faxing: even if you bought a machine, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone you knew. 

    As the cost came down, more people bought fax machines and more connections became possible. To put that into numbers, two devices can make one connection, five can make ten and twelve can make sixty-six. By the 1970s, faxing had reached critical mass. There were enough machines that the network itself became useful – if you had your own device, chances were you’d be able to contact anyone. 

    Contemporary businesses have made a killing leveraging that insight. Critical mass told ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, for example, how many drivers they needed in cities before people would begin relying on their services. 

    That’s not the only super model that you can use to cut through complexity. In the following blinks, we’ll be looking at a ton of shortcuts to help you boost your cognitive performance.

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    What is Super Thinking about?

    Super Thinking (2019) is a conceptual toolkit designed to help you cut through complexity and make better decisions. Drawing on insights from fields as varied as biology and economics, entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg and statistician Lauren McCann present the “mental models” used by today’s top problem-solvers and decision-makers. But this isn’t a dry academic treatise on logic: apply these models to your personal and professional conundrums and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a super thinker in your own right!

    Super Thinking Review

    Super Thinking by Gabriel Weinberg with Lauren McCann (2019) explores mental models and how they can improve decision-making and problem-solving. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a comprehensive collection of mental models, providing readers with practical tools to make better decisions in all aspects of life.
    • Through a blend of real-world examples and case studies, the book demonstrates how mental models have been applied successfully, making it highly relatable and applicable.
    • The authors clearly explain complex concepts in a concise and accessible manner, ensuring the book is engaging and informative, rather than dry and dull.

    Best quote from Super Thinking

    Everything should be made as simple as it can be, but not simpler. – Roger Sessions

    —Gabriel Weinberg with Lauren McCann
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    Who should read Super Thinking?

    • Thinkers and logicians
    • Science buffs 
    • Self-optimizers 

    About the Author

    Gabriel Weinberg is the founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, a multibillion-dollar internet privacy company. He is the author of Traction (2015), a guide to generating customer growth in the start-up sector. 

    Lauren McCann is a statistician and researcher with over a decade of experience designing and analyzing clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry. She holds degrees in mathematics and operations research from MIT and has written for several prestigious medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

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    Super Thinking FAQs 

    What is the main message of Super Thinking?

    The main message of Super Thinking is to train your mind to think more effectively and make better decisions.

    How long does it take to read Super Thinking?

    The reading time for Super Thinking varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Super Thinking a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Super Thinking is definitely worth reading. It provides practical techniques and insights to boost your thinking skills.

    Who is the author of Super Thinking?

    Super Thinking is written by Gabriel Weinberg with Lauren McCann.

    What to read after Super Thinking?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Super Thinking, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Shift Into a Higher Gear by Delatorro McNeal II
    • The Five Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird
    • The Art Of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
    • The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien
    • The Great Mental Models Volume 2 by Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson
    • The Great Mental Models Volume 3 by Rhiannon Beaubien and Rosie Leizrowice
    • Thinking in New Boxes by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
    • Ultralearning by Scott H. Young