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Map is not a territory - Mental Model
In 1931 Alfred Korzybski gave a presentation at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans where he used the phrase “the map is not the territory.”
A map is the reduction(abstractions) of territory, it is not a territory.
Maps are simpler. The territory is complex. As it is reduced; it loses some of its components and may become flawed. But that does not make it useless.
The truth is, the only way we can navigate the complexity of reality is through some sort of abstraction
When we stop questioning maps and consider it as a whole it limits our belief.
For example, to travel to Gujarat, a map of it can be useful. But it is not a territory nor does it describe the beauty of the location, minute details or any extra information.
And most importantly, it is made at a point in time. You cannot use the map of Gujarat 100 years ago now.
The territory is dynamic, it changes rapidly. Faster than the map can change.
The distinction between map and territory is a useful metaphor for the differences between impression and reality. What you think differ from reality.
So relevant(not of different territory) and up to date map has to be used.
A map is not a territory that signifies that the reality you have projected in your head(which you considers to be real) is not true. It is just a map and not a territory.
Maps are useful as a guide. But it should be used along with its limitations. Once all the important and relevant information is gathered on a map, decision making can be done with it.
Perception is not reality
The same works for our mind even. We process the reality in our head, use the required information from a certain perspective and it goes into our memory.
The thought regarding that event is not the same as an event. It is just opinionated and perspective of the event. Relying too much on it can cause serious problems. Always look for a reality check.
The problem is when our knowledge becomes a map and we forget territory completely. From time to time, the relevance of the map should be checked with the territory.
When the territory changes, change the map. One map does not fit all.
A map is only an abstraction, it can not be useful for detailed study.
All maps are flawed but some are useful; don’t take it for granted.
Use First Principle Thinking or Socratic Questioning to verify the map you have of reality in your brain.
Consider the following points while using a map:
1. Reality is the ultimate update
Feedback loops should be created by the creator of the map and should be updated regularly as changes in territory occur.
2. Consider the cartographer
It is not purely with the objective of abstraction of territory, it also has influence and biases of the creator.
3. Maps can influence territories
After the map is studied for a while; you will twist the reality to fit the model in it.
When US town plannIng was done, people tried to fit their model in the cities rather than understanding how better planning can be done. They found the map to be perfected and tried to impose it in the cities.
Maps become useless when territory difference. It is useful only to the point it shows the most probable extract of reality.
Frequently it is the nature of the mind to extract information from reality and use it for the future. Mind doesn’t store the territory itself. So every time the map is used, we consider it as total and rely on it.
So whenever you remember that this is the map I am using, remember this model.
You can use it while making decisions based on less information, judging someone whom you don’t know well, doubting yourself on failure etc.
Financial Statements, world map, procedures, snapshots, news
A dating profile is not a person,
Ads of a product is not a product.
Shane Parrish book (V-1)