Implications and Second Order Thinking

This is one of my favorite mental models. I ask my team to think of Implications ( and use second order thinking) when they send emails to the company.

Let me explain Second Order Thinking a little more using nature as an example.

Any animal which can possibly eat human flesh is considered a serious threat (unless its in a zoo). Humans are not the natural prey of animals, they become prey under abnormal circumstances e.g. when the animal becomes too old to hunt its natural prey and is driven by hunger to hunt slower prey a.k.a. humans. These reasons are not enough for us to leave carnivores free in an environment close to us. We either kill them or call the local zoo to take care of them. The second-order problem here is their target preys are left alone to breed rapidly which affects the food web.

But changes to the food web aren’t the primary problem for human populations; the effects on ecosystem processes are often more dangerous. And many of these processes are big enough that even people in industrialized nations cannot protect themselves. The changes in vegetation that occur when the herbivore population is allowed to rise unchecked can change the frequency and intensity of wildfires. Infectious diseases can become more common; for example, in some parts of Africa where lions and leopards have become scare, populations of olive baboons have changed their behavior patterns, increasing their contacts with the humans nearby. Intestinal parasites have become more common in both the baboons and the people.

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