The power of a proper mental framework is that it is descriptive, predictive, and helps expose blind spots – and all mistakes come from blind spots.
In order to build this proper mental framework or “latticework,” it must be composed of time-tested and robust principles – what we call “the big ideas from the big disciplines.”1A latticework is traditionally used in home improvement projects to create shade, decorate fences, support plants, and more. It creates a stable structure as each point connects and reinforces every other point. Using this metaphor for our own purposes, we can use a latticework structure to organize and reinforce ideas and mental models. If successful in forming this mental structure, you’ll be able to attach new knowledge to previous knowledge, allowing you to more easily learn new concepts. Forming this latticework is important no matter your stage of life, context, or future goals as it helps sharpen your thinking, judgment, and decision-making. Rather than having ideas floating around aimlessly in our heads, our mental latticework will allow us to organize and categorize information so that it becomes interconnected and robust understanding.2And, as Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “To understand is to know what to do.”
The value of this type of structure and organization is beautifully exemplified by Dmitri Mendeleev and his Periodic Table of Elements.
Mendeleev was a Russian chemist who discovered that elements could be organized by their atomic mass and valence, revealing that their chemical properties are derived from these two characteristics.
This discovery went on to become the Periodic Law, an early version of the periodic table of elements. Amazingly, his new framework for organizing the elements allowed him to correct the properties of some already known elements and predict the properties of eight, which were yet to be discovered! People mocked him at first and called him crazy, but he was so confident in his structure that he even left missing spaces in his table for some yet to be discovered elements. He was vindicated when gallium (Ga) and germanium (Ge) were discovered in 1875 and 1886, respectively, and fit perfectly into the two empty slots he left for them.
Mendeleev’s insights created a structure that helped organize the elements, deepening our understanding of the world, and making our collective future efforts more effective.
This is precisely what we are aiming to achieve with The Latticework. If we can create our own “periodic table of elements” or “latticework” in which to organize, categorize, and interconnect information, we too can deepen our understanding of the world. This will make us more effective thinkers, improve our decision-making, and reduce our blind spots, resulting in more complete and fulfilling lives.3…whatever that means and looks like to you…
If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models.
– Charlie Munger
While the resource is tremendously valuable on its own, the contributions made by our all-in community will allow what Charlie Munger calls “Lollapalooza Effects” to emerge, resulting in outcomes far more powerful than anyone could imagine. By hosting this resource online and allowing for our partners to add highlights, ideas, comments, and feedback, we will transform what is typically a passive and single-player learning process into an active and multi-player one. Together, we can learn more than we otherwise could. Together, we can help each other widen our perspectives. Together, we can build a beautiful resource and community that is continuously learning, iterating, and improving.
We hope this multidisciplinary resource and community helps structure and inform your latticework, widening your perspective, and positively impacting how you live and interact with the world around you. We also hope you disagree with parts of it (we’re just students, not experts) and can explain things more clearly and completely than they currently are. That way, we can simultaneously improve the resource and ourselves. This process truly is an infinite game – a journey worth starting and never finishing.4Finite and Infinite Games has been hugely influential in thinking through how to structure and incentivize this resource and community. Briefly, a finite game is played solely to win whereas an infinite game is played simply for the sake of playing. We are playing an infinite game and, if this resonates with you, invite you to join us!
Next: The Vision