Excellent video that explains well one of our contemporary problem : we live in a sea of knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that we understand the world.
The recall technique and the Feynman technique the guy mentions are very good. Another technique I like to use to try to understand and remember a subject or a book is the 5 Why technique.
For instance, if I am reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and I want to explain why human history evolved as it did :
Why did Europeans end up colonizing the new world and not the other way around - for instance Incas colonizing Europe ?
Because Europeans had Guns, Germs (like smallpox) and Steel and Incas did not. (Smallpox killed hundred times more Incas than Spanish swords)
2)Why did Europeans had Guns, Germs and Steel and Inca did not?
Because they had society based on specialization
3)Why did they have such a society?
Because they had switched long ago from hunter gatherers to agriculture and animal domestication, that allowed storage of food surplus and specialization of individuals (and european germs came form the animals they had domesticated)
4)Why did Europeans manage to domesticate animals?
Because there species available in Eurasia that met the following criterias: being able to breed in captivity (bye bye cheetah), not being picky eaters (bye lions, i don’t want to feed you tons of meat everyday), they must be docile by nature (bye buffalo, american bison, zebra and hippopotamus) and they must reach maturity quickly compared to humans so they can be put to work quickly, and bred quickly as well (bye turtles and elephants).
Actually not many animals have been domesticated for work/food production : only dogs, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, horses, camels; all others animals failed one or many criteria.
5)Why were domesticated animals not available in the New world?
Because when the first Sapiens arrived in America 11’000 years ago (and in Australia 40’000 years ago), they killed all the big mammals that were living on these territories (these were the first of many human led extinctions)
I should do the same 5 whys technique to explain why some civilizations were able to be farmers to cultivate cereals and not others (at the time the only cereal available was corn in Mexico, that was not suited to grow on other latitudes in America), but you see the picture :
In general, it is my experience that you will not be able to remember the explanation past the third “why”. So this technique helped me understanding what I am reading/seeing.
Another important point mentioned in your video is how modern internet platforms only provide facts without us being able to connect the dots. We don’t want just facts (shallowness), we want to be able to explain them and understand the world (deepness). That’s why :
- reading a good book on a subject will be one hundred times better than looking at news related to the subject or even blogs, because it will enable you to dig deeper in the principles
- we need, as advocated by Charlie Munger, a latticework of mental models to be able to quickly and effectively connect facts to how the world works.
And thus, I switched to a low-information diet and used the freed time to read good books instead.
Once again, it is very important to not get trapped into the attention economy.
EDIT: your video mentioned Barbara Oakley there is a very good farnam street podcast with her about learning how to learn.