Mental models are a way of explaining how things work. Throughout our lives, we build up a personal collection of mental models to understand the world around us.
Mental models aren't perfect but developing a rich toolbox of them can be useful in navigating the complexities of life. Learning to intuitively apply the right models in the right situations is something we develop with practice.
This website is a curated collection of models with broad applicability in everyday life. There’s a focus on brief descriptions and simple, real life examples of the models in use.
A thought experiments is a technique used to explore a hypothesis, theory or principle by thinking through what its consequences would be. These experiments are not actually performed and are often impossible to set up. The intent is not to prove something, but rather to explore difficult questions through speculation and logical thinking. Hopefully, the results of this thinking will lead us down interesting paths we might otherwise miss. Some examples are: "What will happen if this event occurs?", "If B happened instead of A, how might things differ?", "If something happens in the future, what might cause it?".
Einstein imagined what would happen if someone chased a light beam and caught up. The results of this thought experiment lead him to special relativity. Note that this experiment was not actually performed and the theory was proven using other empirical means.
The trolly problem is a famous thought experiment in the field of ethics. It's often referenced with thinking about the design of self-driving cars.