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Curated Consumption: A Saner Approach to Online Media

Two years ago, I decided to get off social media.1 Twitter made me anxious, and Reddit and YouTube ate up all my time. Undoubtedly, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The problems that pushed me off these platforms have only gotten worse. However, I’m a profoundly online person. I still spend considerable time reading and watching things online....

Why Do People (Usually) Learn Less as They Get Older?

I was recently a guest on a podcast where the host asked why people are less interested in learning as they get older. While there are certainly exceptions, the observation seems valid. Nearly all formal schooling is concentrated in our childhood and early adulthood. Stories of people going back to school in their twilight years are newsworthy precisely...

How My Views on Learning Have Changed Over Time

I’ve been writing this blog for almost seventeen years. From nearly the beginning, learning has been a central theme. Initially, as a college student, “how to study” was pretty much the only topic I could credibly offer advice on, but my interest in the subject of learning has endured. However, the disadvantage of such an early start is that my naive...

The Ten Books that Influenced Me the Most in 2022

Over the last eighteen months, I’ve been reading a lot to prepare for my next book. My notes list 122 books, most of which I read cover-to-cover. Below I’d like to share a few of the ones that influenced my thinking the most. 1. Fear and Courage by S. J. Rachman People are more resilient than they are often given credit for by most popular media...

The Intermediate Plateau: What Causes It? How Can We Move Beyond It?

I remember having a conversation with my friend Olle Linge about learning Chinese. I had already spent a couple of years studying, and while I could converse and read some books, I still struggled in more complicated situations. My progress had slowed, and I was in an awkward phase where I sometimes felt confident and other times not. “Yeah, that’s...

My Best Essays of 2022

I wrote 40 essays in 2022. While far from my most prolific year, I am pleased with how most of them turned out. Thus, to give myself a little writing break over the holidays, I thought I’d share some of my favorites from this year. Why Don’t We Use the Math We Learn in School? Years after drilling the algorithm for long division, when was the last...

The Ten-Book Rule for Smarter Thinking

Ten well-chosen books are usually enough to understand the expert consensus on any reasonable question you might have. At this point, I can imagine the doctors, lawyers and anyone with a PhD cringing at my exceedingly low bar for expertise. But let me unpack that above rule: The books have to be well-chosen. Any ten random books on a subject won’t...

Good Advice is “Obvious”

Years back, a customer of one of my courses told me that he planned to judge the course based on how “counterintuitive” the advice was. From the theory of information, this is a reasonable strategy. Information, in this sense, is a measure of surprise. You don’t learn much when someone tells you something you already know. In contrast, ideas that totally...

Rapid Learner is Now Open for a New Session

About once per year, I offer a new public session of my course, Rapid Learner. This is a six-week program that is designed to make you a better student, professional and lifelong learner. 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. Click here to sign up...

Why You Need a Learning System

In this lesson series, I’ve talked about why it’s crazy we’ve never been taught how to learn. I’ve discussed how cognitive illusions trick you into using lousy studying methods. I’ve also explained why we get stressed over studying and how to beat it. Today, however, I want to talk about the importance of having a learning system. Tips Versus Systems...

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