The art of unlearning

  • The most useful learning is unlearning something false or unhelpful.
  • The first challenge of unlearning is that you are likely to dismiss something that contradicts your current understanding (confirmation bias).
  • Unlearning is a deep dive into strangeness underlying what we think we know, acknowledging that convenient approximations guide our actual lives but the accurate picture is stranger and more interesting.
  • To unlearn things, seek additive information in familiar areas and use it to modify old knowledge - this is difficult and requires you to have patience with theoretical and academic learning.
  • You should seek other people‚Äôs experiences, and use them as a touchstone to understand your own patterns of thinking (travel is a good example if it involves you actually talking to local people, not just sightseeing).
  • Be bold and varied in experimenting - this is randomness, but avoid obvious risks. However, being able to do this typically requires you to have had positive experiences with venturing outside your comfort zone in the past.
  • Become comfortable with mystery and encourage yourself in an open-ended inquiry. You can thus condition yourself to be comfortable with what starts as aversive (like more activities involving heights to rid yourself of a fear of heights), what psychologists call progressive exposure.

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