Learning to learn

From Peter Attia’s AMA#1

Thinking About Thinking / Learning About Learning [1:33:00]

What is your strategy for learning something deeply? How does your learning process work?
General strategies and tactics:
  • Read a lot of papers;
  • Watch a lot of lectures;
  • Your learning often comes from doing: patients teach Peter a lot;
  • Seek out mentors, teachers, and researchers you admire;
  • Know how to pick and choose your teacher and/or mentor;
  • Understand how you best learn;
  • Look at the most recent review articles;
  • Watch lectures given by the researchers to a broader audience;
  • Understand the origins and history of the topic;
  • Learn from people who understand the topic deeply;
  • Learn to teach to understand (the Feynman technique);
  • “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter,” attributed to Mark Twain
More specific strategies and tactics:
  • Peter starts with the most recent review article on a topic;
  • Peter never starts with the primary literature because it’s too narrow and he wants a larger overview;
  • For example, for Lp(a), he would go into PubMed and search “Lp(a) review”;
  • Try to figure out who the luminaries are on the topic: in this example of Lp(a), Sam Tsimikas sticks out;
  • Then read the last three review articles by the individual(s);
  • Start by looking at, and understanding, the figures in those papers;
  • First, go 80/20: Try to squeeze out an 80% understanding of the topic;
  • Then, go 20/80: contact the people who can get you closer to 100% on the topic.


Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects – by Dr Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski [Highly recommended free Coursera course]


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