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Evan Y.

@evan_yy15

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Being smart changes how you learn things

Intelligence is likely associated with a better generalised working memory.

A working memory is the ability to hold multiple ideas in your head at the same time. Those who are smarter have a bigger capacity to hold multiple ideas.

@evan_yy15

Do You Need to Be Smart to Learn Certain Subjects?

scotthyoung.com

Intelligence is partly heritable, but there are ways to improve it in a general capacity. The best way to improve your working memory is to simply learn a lot. Learning creates chunks, which allows you to deal with more complex ideas.

The downside of learning is that it tends to be narrow, while intelligence is general.

Some subjects feel like they require more intelligence. If understanding an idea requires you to take different ideas into account, it may be more challenging to keep track with a lower working memory. e.g. mathematical proofs.

Conversely, if a subject requires a large volume of memory, but each fact or idea is separate, it may require lots of practice and less working memory. E.g. history or law.

Because we can increase our working memory within a subject, we can create new chunks and master very complicated ideas. The perceived difficulty is often the way subjects are taught. Only the smarter students will remain, the higher you go in maths or science. This leads teachers to skip over "trivial" steps, leading you feeling like you can't master it.

Solutions are for teachers to slow down the class or for the student to slow down the class using, for example, the Feynman Technique.

Any subject can be learned with some practice and patience. Some subjects may appear harder because of the speed at which they are taught.

To fix this problem, you may need to put in more work. If you can't see everything at once, it just means you need to practice more of the pieces, so your mind does not have to juggle so many ideas simultaneously.

Self-sabotage
Self-sabotage occurs when your logical, conscious mind (the side of you that says you need to eat healthily and save money) is at odds with your subconscious mind (the side of you that stress-eats chocolate and goes on online shopping binges).

Self-sabotage involves behaviors or thoughts that keep you away from what you desire most in life. It’s that internal sentiment gnawing at us, saying “you can’t do this.”

8 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Success

entrepreneur.com

Self-destructive behaviors can become habits and can continually undermine your success and happiness.

Self-sabotage is when we want something, but somehow we never accomplish it, because somewhere deep in our subconscious we’re fighting against that goal:

  • Our disorganization distracts us.
  • We’re constantly overthinking all of our decisions.
  • Procrastination. Start setting deadlines and mini-deadlines to work toward your objective.
  • Negative self-talk/negative thinking. Be patient with yourself; be kind to yourself. Work to build yourself up.
  • Perfectionism. It is an impossible standard that keeps you from moving forward.

Self-destructive habits are often rooted in our feelings of self-worth.

Work on identifying and acknowledging what is causing you to sabotage yourself, and then start making changes to stop those behaviors.

The most successful people are those who take the time to think through their choices, decisions and actions. 

Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They then adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.

Put aside those harsh inner voices of "I can’t" or "I’m a failure."

That negative internal dialogue is a pattern of self-limiting thoughts. Start replacing that critical inner voice with positive, encouraging thoughts.

In every moment, we’re taking action that either moves us toward or away from the person we want to be and the life we want to have.

Consider how the actions you’re taking and the thoughts you’re thinking conflict with your happiness and hold you back from your true potential. Then look for ways to replace old patterns with new ones that are more helpful in achieving your goals.

Once you’ve identified the changes you want to make, pick just one thing that you want to work on.

If you’re disorganized or constantly getting off track from what you should be doing, take five minutes every morning to tidy your desk and write a to-do list.

By having firm, thoughtful plans for each step we take, we will feel more confident about our intentions and what we’re doing. You can do this on a daily level -- thinking through how you’ll respond to situations, people and circumstances.
Learning to Learn

Learning new skills increases your motivation, makes you more adaptable, relatable, interesting and helps you get better jobs and earn more money.

And today, learning anything new isn’t as hard as it used to be. Start by understanding  how your brain truly works.

8 Timeless Skills to Learn Now in Under 8 Hours to Change your Life Forever

medium.com

Writing

Like any skill, you learn by doing. And make a commitment to write publicly.

You learn better when people can actually see your work. It forces you to do your very best. It gives you accountability. You get feedback from others and improved based on it.

Public Speaking

Nothing builds confidence more than doing a successful public speech. So seek opportunities to speak in front of groups.

  • Start with people you’re comfortable with (friends and family). 
  • Talk about subjects you’re passionate about. 
  • Be aware of people's reactions and interest levels and adapt accordingly. You'll get better in time.
Forming Good Habits

First, learn how habits form and how they work, to better control what habits you set up and get rid of habits that are detrimental to you.

The best way to keep your habits in check is to be accountable for your good or bad habits. Find one or multiple people that you report to on a regular basis.

Negotiating

By practicing this skill:

  • You'll improve your confidence.
  • You'll be able to negotiate a better salary and benefits and even work on more interesting projects.
  • If you are trying to find a job, you’ll know better what they are looking for and adapt to your interviewer.
  • In your romantic life, you’ll handle conflicts better, and likely have fewer of them too.
Mathematical Thinking

It helps you to think more logically (it will increase your analytical and reasoning skills) and make better-informed decisions. And you'll be more productive simply by knowing how to better analyze your time.

Practice sample problems, without the pressure you probably felt in school, and with the awareness of the real-life benefits of doing it.

Coordination and Flexibility

Having coordination and flexibility is one of the most important parts of living a healthy life.

And without being healthy, it’s hard to even think about developing any other skill.

Meditating

Start with guided meditations. They teach you that it’s okay to have thoughts and guide you through clarity of mind.

Commit to it. Don’t try once and leave. The more hours of practice you put it, the easier it gets. You'll have more clarity on your emotions, body, and mind, and you'll make better decisions.

Note-Taking

Note-taking will always be at the core of learning and education. We are often encouraged to take notes during lectures to have a record of the knowledge being shared by our teachers and gain a sense of familiarity with the subject.

There are many note-taking systems such as outlining, guided notes, and the famous Cornell notes. However, they do not result well when being recalled. No studies suggest that Cornell note-taking improves a student's performance better than free-flow writing.

From note-taking to note-making

nesslabs.com

Note-taking:

  • Usually done while listening
  • Fast-paced
  • Uses the author's original language

Note-making:

  • Commonly done while reading
  • Self-paced
  • Uses our own language and understanding of the material

The biggest difference between the two is that the former is easier to forget than the latter.

With note-making, it is easier to understand and remember because of the generation effect - the phenomenon wherein information is better remembered if it is actively created from your own mind rather than simple read in a passive way.

To make good notes, you must take note of these three things:

  • Rephrase the original idea and translate it into your own. Use your own words to distill it in your mind better.
  • Connect ideas together. Create links between your ideas for better understanding and recall.
  • Build upon the ideas. Add your own examples, own questions, and other ideas related to it.

In summary, actively engage with your notes. There are great methods such as mind mapping, digital gardening, and the Zettelkasten method.

What to focus on when learning something

People can fool themselves into believing they understand something more deeply than they really do. It often comes from being focused on learning the wrong thing, such as the name of something instead of what it really is.

We have to learn when we know, when we don't know, what it is we know, and what it is we don't know.

The Feynman Learning Technique: How to Learn Anything Well

hackernoon.com

  • Step 1: Pick something you want to learn. Spend time with the idea until you have internalized it as best you can.
  • Step 2: From memory, write everything down that you know about the subject in a way that a child can understand. Write the items down that you don't remember and find answers for those items.
  • Step 3: Question every line you have written down. Some things you will understand, but at some point, you will write things down that you don't know. Then find the answers to these new topics.
  • Step 4: Repeat step 3 until the questioning adds no incremental value. Reorganize the various information you found interesting. Then question your own information to see if there are more gaps in your understanding.
Good decisions

To make good decisions, we generally need to do the following:

  • Identify the decision: recognizing the need to make a decision, and identifying what that decision involves.
  • Set our goals: establishing what we want to achieve with the decision and how important each goal is to us.
  • Gather data: collecting the necessary information to make a decision.
  • Identify options: researching the options that are available to us.
  • Assess the options: identifying the pros and cons of the available options.
  • Select the preferred option: Rating options based on their pros and cons, and choosing the one that’s best for us.

Why It’s Hard to Make Decisions (Especially Good, Fast Ones) - Effectiviology

effectiviology.com

  • The main reason why decision-making is hard is that every decision makes us go through a process that is most times difficult and complex, and having difficulties with any part of it can hinder the whole process.
  • The emotional difficulty that we face when we need to pick only one of multiple possible options means that we have to forego several alternatives that we may find appealing. This is associated with the concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out).
  • The decision-making process can be very demanding, from a cognitive and an emotional perspective. Also, the act of making a decision is tiring in itself, since it depletes the cognitive resources.
  • Being tired and sleep-deprived can make it more difficult for us to process information, and more likely for us to suffer from various cognitive biases that get in the way of making good decisions.
Barry Schwartz
“The existence of multiple alternatives makes it easy for us to imagine alternatives that don’t exist—alternatives that combine the attractive features of the ones that do exist. And to the extent that we engage our imaginations in this way, we will be even less satisfied with the alternative we end up choosing. So… a greater variety of choices actually makes us feel worse.”
  • Complexity: the more complex a certain decision is, the harder it is to choose. A common reason for added complexity in decision-making is that there is a large number of options to choose from.
  • Uncertainty: the more uncertainty is involved with a decision, the harder it is to choose. A common form of uncertainty in decision-making is not knowing what possible outcomes your different options can lead to.
  • Consequences: the more serious the consequences are for a certain decision, the harder it is to choose. A common serious consequence in decision-making is missing out on a unique opportunity by choosing to follow an alternative path.

There are a few personality traits that are found in indecisive individuals:

  • Neuroticism: the tendency to be prone to negative emotions and psychological stress is strongly correlated with indecisiveness, as is perfectionism.
  • Indecisiveness is associated with the tendency to interpret ambiguous situations as threatening, and to engage in worst-case reasoning.
  • Indecisiveness is also related to procrastination, and particularly with a type of procrastination called decisional procrastination - unnecessarily delaying when it comes to making decisions.

When making decisions, using your intuition is not essentially good or bad; this depends on multiple factors, such as the circumstances at hand and the way you use your intuition.

While you should be willing to use your intuition where necessary, you should assess the situation first, and make sure that using intuition is the best option for you, and that when you do use it, you do so in a proper manner.

Our emotions can makes us act in an irrational way and make bad decisions. But don't ignore your emotions entirely; they are not necessarily the cause of our bad decisions.

You should take your emotions into account in a rational way, without giving them the power to prevent you from conducting a proper decision-making process.

  • Be aware of the cognitive biases that might influence your thinking, and then use debiasing techniques to reduce those biases (imagining you're you’re giving advice to a friend, for example)
  • You can rely on your intuition when it’s appropriate to do so in quick decision making, but make sure to limit the amount of information you take in, embrace the concept of good enough, and identify the cost of delaying.
  • For hard decisions, when you’re struggling to choose, you can focus on the concrete facts, eliminate weak options, look at secondary factors, and visualize the future outcomes of choosing different options.
  • Exploratory indecisiveness: a long and drawn-out struggle to make decisions, even after all the options have been explored thoroughly.
  • Impetuous indecisiveness: quickly making decisions but constantly also changing one’s mind about them.
Back To School

Many people in their thirties and forties go back to a college to learn something that may be helpful in their ongoing career.

The time when they had earlier attended college, they were in their teens or twenties, not being exposed to the real world. When going back to college as a professional, a few mistakes can be avoided.

3 Tips For Going Back To School After 30

medium.com

Most of us believe that lecture time is learning time, but the fact is that they are only effective when one is already familiar with the material being taught.

Introduction of new concepts during a one hour lecture does not make us grasp it fully, but the hard work is to be done later when we sit and grasp the concepts that were discussed. It is best to relax and listen to the lectures with an open mind.

  • Badly taken notes easily become redundant and useless.
  • Real and useful note-taking is when we note down the names and brief explanations of new concepts, like author names, references, theoretical names and concepts, instead of copying everything on the slide.
  • It is great to write down the questions that come in our minds, something which is often neglected.
  • Colored or coded notes, that are marked in different shapes or blocks help ease the looking up part later, and also while studying for an exam.
  • One can also use the phone recorder to help in note-taking.

A University is not just about memorizing facts and concepts, especially when one is already a professional. Your deep learnings can go beyond the syllabus, setting off new directions and building upon a unique set of knowledge that can take you into uncharted territory and eventually enviable success.

If you are going off-topic, take it as a sign of learning and exploration.

Begging the question

Begging the question is an example of a fallacy of presumption, also known as a circular argument: The conclusion appears at the beginning and the end of the argument. A is true because A is true.

A valid argument in support of a claim will offer evidence or reasons independent of the claim.

Logical Fallacies: Begging the Question

thoughtco.com

"The law says you should drive on the right side of the road, and the law is the law."

When someone is questioning this statement, they are questioning the law. If we say, "because that is the law," we are begging the question. We are assuming the validity of what the other person is questioning.

The most simple form of begging the question: A is true because A is true.

Circular reasoning can also be a bit longer:

  • A is true because B is true, and B is true because A is true.
  • A is true because B is true, and B is true because C is true. C is correct because A is true.
Cognitive Bias

Cognitive Bias is a predictable pattern of mental errors where we misperceive reality and move away from the most likely way of reaching our goals.

These mental blind spots impact all areas of life. Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood.

What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

lifehack.org

Unconscious bias refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping. Unconscious bias often leads to discrimination, be it deliberate or unintentional.

Unconscious bias is different from cognitive biases. Cognitive biases relate to our brains' particular wiring, while unconscious bias refers to perceptions between different groups and are specific to different societies.

  • Recognise that the unconscious bias is a systemic issue. Internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.
  • There is no shame or guilt in unconscious bias. Unconscious bias stems from our tendency to categorise people into social groups and often doesn't match our conscious values.
  • It takes a series of conversations and interventions to prevent and protect against unconscious bias.
A paradigm shift

To define a paradigm shift, we should first look at a definition for a paradigm.

A paradigm is defined as a pattern that may be copied, or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made or thought about.

A paradigm shift is then defined as a major change that happens when a new and different way replaces the regular way of thinking or doing something.

What Is A Paradigm Shift, Anyway?

npr.org

Psychologist Jean Piaget saw children's development as a series of separate stages marked by periods of adjustments. Inspired partly by Piaget, Thomas Kuhn - a physicist, philosopher, and historian of science -proposed two kinds of scientific change:

  • Incremental developments in the course of "normal science."
  • Scientific revolutions that accentuate the more stable phases.

He proposed that scientific revolutions are not a matter of incremental progress; they involve "paradigm shifts."

The term paradigm can be used in many distinct senses. For example:

  • A paradigm could refer to a special kind of achievement that draws an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity, but is open enough to leave all sorts of problems for the new group to solve.
  • Paradigms can be used to offer general epistemological viewpoints, like a broad sweep of reality, when it "determines large areas of experience at the same time."

What Thomas Kuhn meant originally by paradigm has, over time, assumed an expansive set of meanings, sufficiently open-ended to allow other possibilities to be explored.

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