Winning the lottery

So how do mental models work?

Here is a quick example of my model for getting rich:

  1. Pick the right numbers.
  2. Buy a lottery ticket.
  3. Win the lottery.

Easy, right? Unfortunately, this is in conflict another mental model of mine:

  1. My chance of getting hit by a bus are orders of magnitude greater than winning the lottery.
  2. I live in London, with lots of buses, some of which drive extremely close to the side of the road.
  3. If I play the lottery, chances are I’ve been hit by a bus.
  4. I’d better not play the lottery.


If you think this is a bit far-fetched, you should see my normal mental models. But that’s okay… mental models don’t need to make sense, they just need to work. The important thing is to ask the questions:

  • Does this mental model work for me?
  • Is there something that might work better?