Tom MacWright

I read Super Thinking by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann on


I had high expectations for Super Thinking, but I couldn’t get past the first chapter.

The book consists of a “mental model”, and then a few paragraphs of explanation and backstory, and then on to another unrelated mental model. I put “mental model” in quotes because it brings into question what, precisely, a mental model is. Is “information overload” a mental model, or a buzzword? Is “technical debt” one? What about “externalities”?

Now, my review is context-dependent. If there’s a startup buzzword, I’ve probably heard it. And I’m probably living in a similar bubble as Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo. So there are undoubtedly folks for whom this will be chock-full of new concepts. But I’m not one of them, and imagining, say, “perverse incentives” as a novel concept is difficult.

On the bright side, it’s basically the condensed version of tens of Malcolm Gladwell books but without the feeble narrative trying to tie them all together.

The main fault I find of this book, that transcends personal context and asterisked opinions, is the structure. Every “chapter” contains tens of tiny, disconnected summaries of different “models”, but there’s no index at the front to just skip the ones you know and read the ones that sound interesting.

This is kind of like a factoid version of Principles - it’s just very hard for me to understand the appeal.