This sharp book…is an important read—a steady hand for our turbulent times.

The power of mental models to make better decisions

We're always told that humans make bad decisions and that more data is better. But this is backwards: people are actually good at decisions because we use mental models and can envision new realities outside of data. Great outcomes don't depend so much on the final moment of choosing but on generating better alternatives to choose among. That's framing. It's a cognitive muscle we can strengthen to improve our lives, work and future—to meet our moment of economic upheaval, social tensions and existential threats. Framers shows how.

What people are saying…

Framers brilliantly shows that mental models are at the heart of creativity, critical thinking and innovation.

Wonderfully stimulating... It will teach you to see around corners.

Fascinating ... how people can improve the way they think to stay ahead of the machine.

“Big ideas, great stories, values and verve... It will change how you think—and might just change the world too.”

Things you’ll learn in this book…

  • Why the discovery of a new antibiotic via AI is really a triumph for humans over machines because we can frame and reframe how we see the world
  • How a team of tech thinkers on the film Minority Report invented the sci-fi world of the future by applying counterfactuals and consistency
  • Why the 1976 Israeli hostage-rescue mission at Entebbe succeeded by using frames to expand their set of alternatives and modifying cognitive constraints
  • The subtle way that Apple University trains young executives to see issues from multiple angles, with productive friction, to find the best solutions
  • How different countries framed the covid-19 outbreak (as "flu" or "SARS") affected how they responded and their failure or success
  • The way the origin of the MeToo movement reframed sexual assault from a domain of silence and shame to strength and empowerment
  • How Nazi Germany led to a mental monoculture, and ways this can be resisted in our own day by fostering cognative pluralism

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About the authors

Kenneth Cukier is a senior editor at The Economist and host of its weekly podcast on technology, Babbage. He is also an associate fellow at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is professor of internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center of Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Francis de Véricourt is professor of management science and the director of the Center for Decisions, Models and Data at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin. Learn more about the authors

Learn more about the authors

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How to harness mental models to make better decisions — and improve our lives, our work and our future.