Half life of facts and compound knowledge - Deepstash





Half Life: The Decay of Knowledge and What to Do About It

Half life of facts and compound knowledge

If we want our knowledge to compound, we’ll need to focus on the invariant general principles.

Half-lives show us that if we spend time learning something that changes quickly, we might be wasting our time. 




The 5-Hour Rule
The 5-Hour Rule

The most successful, busy people in the world dedicate at least 5 hours a week to deliberate learning.

The 5-Hour Rule is the most critical practice we can all adopt for long-term career suc...

The Simple Math 

It takes about 6,400 hours of class time and studying to get a 4-year degree. Assume that it takes you only 5,000 hours to master your field.

While you are happy that you've prepared for your profession, the knowledge you've learned is fast becoming outdated. We can safely assume that in 10 years, 50% of the facts in the field would be outdated. This means that for you, just to keep up in your current field, you'd need to learn 5 hours per week, 50 weeks a year.

Trends To Consider

When we consider the future of work, there are two trends we should keep a note of. They are:

  1. Half-life of knowledge
  2. Law of increasing learning
Erwin Schrödinger proposed a paradox
Erwin Schrödinger proposed a paradox

Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Schrödinger proposed a paradox in 1935 to illustrate a point in quantum mechanics about the nature of wave particles.

At the center of...

The feline paradox: Schrodinger's cat

A cat is placed in a steel box along with a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, a hammer, and a radioactive substance. When the radioactive substance decays (it decays as a random process), the Geiger detects it, triggers the hammer, and release the poison, which kills the cat.

Until the box is opened, the cat's state is entirely unknown. Therefore, the cat can be treated as both alive and dead simultaneously until it is observed. If you try to make predictions about the cat's status, you're possibly going to be wrong. But if you assume it's a combination of all of the possible states, you'll be correct.

Really minute things don't obey Newton's Laws. The rule that we use to govern the motion of a ball or car can't be used to explain how an electron or atom works.

Junk Knowledge
Most of the stuff we read is junk, with little or no value in a year.
Expiring knowledge is something disposable, which we consume daily.
Timeless or long-term kn...
Long-Term Vs Expiring Knowledge
  • Expiring Knowledge, is better than junk knowledge, as it is not as useless, but has a short shelf life. It catches our attention due to its topical and current nature.
  • Long Term Knowledge is hard to find as it is not that visible and requires a keen eye. Long-Term Knowledge has no expiry date and actually compounds over time.
Quality of Intake

Whether it's the questions startup companies ask in meetings, or the quarterly earnings of a company, short-term, expiring knowledge has very little context if not paired with long-term knowledge.

If you intake more long-term knowledge by reading good books, you can be a better judge of which expiring knowledge to absorb and which to reject.