Kashgar, China. Muslim Worshippers by Pete Nielson

Models Are Killing People

How the brain’s natural attempt to simplify things puts people in danger.

Yes, I said models. No, we’re not talking stiletto wielding fashion divas.

Mental Models

Kenneth Craik was the first to coin the term “Mental Model,” essentially shortcuts that the brain takes to make its life easier.

Models create expectations.

We use models in order to simplify our interaction with a system. Rather than have to figure it out as something new and unique we can run through a previously scripted interaction.

Models are often wrong.

A model is meant to simplify life, not capture the entirety of it. What makes this difficult is the brain doesn’t do a great job of updating our models.

Models are a shortcut.

It’s not possible to house all the information and data we take in. So the brain makes a shortcut, it creates a model of the world.

Our models are subjective.

The model is unique to each individual, layered not only in cultural conditioning but time; the memory and moments of our lives.

Models are never perfect but the brain relies on them.

No matter what our model is, it’s a simplification and that oversimplification is something the brain does often.

How models become dangerous.

Models limit our expectations of what is possible and keep us focused on what the brain assumes is important, ignoring other important details that can help us better understand ourselves and others.

Rising discrimination and hate crimes.

The world over the dangers involved with model ideation are becoming more and more apparent.

These acts are based on a broken model.

Someone has generated a view of entire populations based on misapplied information from the news, media, conspiracy books, their limited personal experience or their favorite politician.

Models are great for simple things but they fail at complexity.

Models can help us figure out where we are and how to interact with our environment when we’re tired but they simply don’t contain the information we need when it comes to anything important.

How do we challenge our brains and break out of models when it’s important?

We take advice from the Queen!


Our brains cheat. They don’t have the resources necessary to try and remember all the information they have on a subject. Neither do they know everything about that subject.

Transformation coach specializing in mental health, spirituality & relationships — the ways we connect to self, society & cosmos. www.linktr.ee/JoshuaBurkhart

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