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Beware Tractability Bias

Human beings crave progress. That craving distorts what we work on. Vital pursuits with less tangible progress are frequently sidelined for trivialities we can check off a to-do list. Think of the last time you updated your computer. Just having the progress bar made the wait more bearable. The inching left to right may have been inconsistent. It may...

14 Books On Learning by Doing, Apprenticeship and Transfer

Recently, I embarked on a research project exploring the topics of learning by doing, apprenticeship and transfer. I’ve just finished a big reading binge of a few dozen books loosely related to this topic. Since I’m fully aware that at most 1% of the material I read will make it into any future writing, I thought I’d highlight some of the more interesting...

Digging the Well

I recently came across an essay by Tanner Greer about the rise and decline of public intellectuals. Many appear as geniuses for a time, before later becoming a punch line. Why does this happen? Greer starts with an obvious explanation—genius peaks. As we age, our raw talents decline and we can no longer sustain brilliance. I’d add to this regression...

Make Your Life Better by Doing Less

I recently came across the following Nature article, “People systematically overlook subtractive changes.” From the abstract: “Here we show that people systematically default to searching for additive transformations, and consequently overlook subtractive transformations. Across eight experiments, participants were less likely to identify advantageous...

How I Do Research

For the past several years, I’ve been trying to get better at research. I’m far from a master, but I’ve learned some strategies that have helped. I’ve done smaller research-driven essays, from looking into explore-exploit tradeoffs, how aging affects learning and whether speed reading works. I’ve also worked on longer efforts that had me reading quite...

Rapid Learner is Now Open

About once per year, I offer a new public session of my course, Rapid Learner. This is a six-week program that shows you how to learn better. If you’ve found my essays on the science of learning helpful, or found my learning projects interesting, this course shows you how to do it: www.rapid-learner-course.com Be sure to check it out before Friday,...

The Key to Find Time for Learning

When I was in my twenties, finding time for learning was easy. Committing to doing the work could be hard, but there was always spare time. Now, as a father and business owner, I can relate to the struggle to find time to learn things. My to-learn list is long and ever-growing. I have dozens of unread books in my library. I have a tab in my browser...

How to Think for Yourself

Our culture celebrates originality and creativity. We want our students to think for themselves, not blindly follow tradition, authority and received opinion. After all, doesn’t science, art and politics depend on us all coming to our own answers? I definitely support the idea of coming to your own beliefs about things. But the way we do it isn’t how...

The Science Behind Building General Skills

How do you build general skills? Abilities that not only help you with a narrow problem, but ones that you can apply repeatedly to problems in your life? Many of our goals, whether its becoming a better programmer, a savvier business leader or more original artist are of this type. The bad news is that breadth is hard. General skills tend to be built...

The 10 Essential Strategies for Deeper Learning

Learning can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be mysterious. Ample research shows that there are better ways of studying, not just for passing the test, but for creating deep understanding. Below are ten essential strategies you should keep mind any time you need to learn something important. These lessons are drawn from my course, Rapid Learner....

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