How To Make Study Easy

I love learning, but I’m also kinda lazy.

So I’ve always preferred stuff packaged as simple as possible. I’ve trudged through dense stuff too – not for fun, but because I’ll be glad I did afterwards. I don’t want to forget it, so I furrow my brows extra hard. Sometimes I don’t grasp it though. ‘Shit maybe I am an idiot’ – It’s all very stressful.

I’ve realised much of this stress is optional.

The densest textbook is made up of squiggles. Some squiggles are harder to learn than others, but none contain inherent stress – we’re the one who makes it stressful. They stress us out because we’re scared we’ll forget them.

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Six Heuristics For Judging Intelligence

The challenge is no longer finding information, it’s trying not to drown in it. Today, how we filter defines much of our intelligence.

To avoid being an intellectual pinball, we need heuristics to figure out if someone’s worth listening to.

Here’s six:

Intellectual Humility

‘Anybody who doesn’t change their mind a lot is dramatically underestimating the complexity of the world’ – Jeff Bezos

What’ve they changed their minds about? What’ve they been wrong about? What aren’t they sure about?

If the answer to all 3 is ‘nothing’, they care more about thinking they’re right than being right. Confidence is important psychologically and socially, but it’s often the enemy of good ideas.

Confidence in specific areas doesn’t disqualify automatically. Some things we can be quite sure of. Smart people can distinguish between simple and complex. They know which types of things to be sure and unsure about.

Either way, if they aren’t good friends with cognitive dissonance they’re out.

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Directing Your Subconscious

Like a video game character, I’ve got a energy bar suspended over my head. So do you. If it’s full we do stuff well, if it’s empty we’re basically turds. Doing healthy things keeps it full longer, but I’ll save that for another time.

When’s the last time you had to study for something?

Maybe you procrastinated and had to catch up. Or maybe you wanted to crush it. Either way you sit down for a monster study sesh, like 4 hours. After an hour your bar is empty, so you spend the next 3 hours mashing buttons that don’t work. Your a turd for 3 hours and it’s no fun. This frames the experience negatively and you procrastinate next time.

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The Shoulders Of Holograms

‘My technique is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite.’ – Terrance Mckenna apparently

Whose the biggest know-it-all you know?

They meet someone new and get the impression he’s a dick.

The potential dick and the know-it-all chat for a minute and go separate ways.

It’s concluded that someone new is a dick.

Humans are usually good at first impressions. Heaps of data is processed and instantaneously transformed into an opinion. This speed would have been important to our ancestors.

The table is set.

Subsequent information is based on this initial impression.

Your know-it-all parts the Red Sea of information. Any word or gesture that can prove them right will. The rest is discarded.

If this all happened 20 seconds later perhaps someone new thought of something funny. The first impression changes and everything else is a little funnier. Or perhaps he said something insightful but the know-it-all didn’t notice, too busy proving them self right.

Human’s are bad at updating first impressions. This isn’t about judging a book by it’s cover though. This same structure underlies all thinking.

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Fertile Mental Habitat

No configuration of squiggles or grunts, inside or outside your head will ever capture the complexity of the world (and beyond). Just because these configurations aren’t perfect though doesn’t mean they can’t be useful.

A highly imperfect but useful squiggle is as follows:

Input = Output

Here I’m talking about your mind – you get out what you put in.

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