How to Make Good Choices in School: Genghis Khan and the Tale of the Three Rivers

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When Genghis Khan was a young man, he lived a difficult life. Now, you might be thinking, “What does Genghis Khan have to do with how to make good choices in school?” And you would be right. After all, Genghis Khan was not well-educated. He was certainly not a scientist! He did not invent new technologies either.

How to make good choices in school studygate
This is Genghis Khan’s Twitter profile pic. But no one knows what he actually looked like because he wouldn’t let people make paintings of him when he was alive.

Instead, he grew up eating small mammals like rats. He also would eat birds, fish, and roots in the ground. Genghis Khan lost his father when he was young because someone poisoned him. The Tayichiud tribe he was with abandoned him, his mother, and his brothers.

In spite of this difficult childhood, Genghis Khan was a leader of people. He deeply respected himself, and he showed that through action.

A kidnapping

Once upon a time, Genghis Khan came upon a huge choice that would define him for the rest of his life. But first I will share a little background about this great leader. In spite of being a teenager, Genghis Khan married young. He was only 9 years old when he met Borte, and they got married later when he was 16.

Borte must have been a special person because she was kidnapped by the Merkid tribe. Now, you might think being kidnapped is a big deal in Mongolia. That isn’t really true. Actually, kidnapping women was pretty common back in the 12th century. In fact, it was how Genghis Khan’s mother came to meet his father since she was kidnapped from her first husband too. Violence was a part of life back then. I didn’t say that life was easy!

So if kidnapping Borte was not what made her special, what was it? Lots of people said that she “had fire in her face and light in her eyes.” If you read about Borte on Wikipedia, this means she is smart.

But not even her brains made her that special! No, what made her special was what Genghis Khan did after Borte was kidnapped by the Merkid.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “what does this story have to do with school?” Well, a lot actually! Knowing how to make good choices in school is a lot like making good choices in life. It is not always easy. Actually, knowing how to make good choices ANYWHERE is pretty hard!

And it was no different for Genghis Khan.

When he lost Borte, Genghis Khan was mad and sad. So he did what any man would do when he felt lost. He prayed to God. His god was the Eternal Blue Sky and the Golden Light of the Sun, and they lived around Burkhan Khaldun, which means “God Mountain.” This was a special place because the Mongols believed that the soul of the earth flowed through the water, especially rivers. Genghis Khan believed this, and some people still do.

As Genghis Khan prayed, he saw three rivers flowing down from the mountain. And that’s when he knew he had a choice to make. Which river would he decide to follow?

Kherlen River

To the southeast, there lay the Kherlen River leading to the steppe. A steppe is a large area of flat grassland with no forests. It was a place with the opportunity to raise crops and have livestock, but it was also an area vulnerable to attack since there weren’t many trees. As a herder, no matter how many animals and no matter big his family got, Genghis Khan could expect to be challenged. The Merkid who just took Borte would be back. The Tayichiud tribe were no longer his friends either.

The land was too rich and there was not enough space to live in peace no matter how rich he got.

How to make good choices in school studygate
This is the Kherlen River. Today, people love to go fishing here and catch the mighty Taimen fish, which is a lot like a salmon.

Onon River

To the northeast, the Onon River gave safety to the people that lived around it. Since it is much colder in that direction, there wouldn’t be as many people either. It had a lot of twists and turns that could provide shelter to the people who did live there, but there wasn’t any place to store animals. This was where he grew up in poverty after the Tayichiud tribe abandoned his family. It would be familiar and comforting, but it wouldn’t be very nice and he would probably have to eat rats again.

He could live there in peace and take another wife, but there would be no reward here.

How to make good choices in school studygate
This is the Onon River. It has over 170 Google reviews and is one of the world’s longest rivers stretching from central Asia to the Pacific Ocean!

Tuul River

To the southwest, Genghis Khan saw the Tuul River. This river was not better than the Kherlen and Onon rivers. In fact, the Tuul River was the hardest choice of all. It would lead him down the path of conflict, but it would also lead him to people that would want to help him get Borte back. Some of Genghis Khan’s friends did not like the Merkid.

Of course, he might fail to win against the Merkid too. But the Tuul River was his only chance.

How to make good choices in school studygate
This is the Tuul River. Its clean and pleasant waters flow all the way to the capital city of Mongolia, which is Ulaanbaatar.

The big choice

Genghis Khan chose the Tuul river and fought against the Merkid. And do you know what happened? He rescued Borte! Then he built an army and took over the world. His empire went from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. There were not many people like Genghis Khan.

And it started with this big choice. Would he live without Borte or would he fight for her? No one would have blamed him for giving up. Kidnapping was normal back then, and he could always find someone else. But Genghis Khan acknowledged that he was in pain from losing his wife. He was angry. He wanted to do something about his loss. So he took action.

No one else could have done it for him.

The meaning of each river

Sometimes it is hard to make good choices in school. There are many people that will want to influence you. Maybe your friends want to play Fortnite all the time and don’t care about studying. Or maybe they are smoking Juul and want you to as well. Maybe your parents want you to become a scientist and you want to be a musician instead.

Whatever your challenge, it probably won’t be like that of Genghis Khan. Most of us didn’t have to grow up eating rats! Maybe something very painful happened in your life, but maybe not.

How to make good choices in school studygate
Pick a cherry, any cherry!

Either way, we all have choices like Genghis Khan did. The Kherlen River represents the wide path. Many people will take it and it has nice advantages, but you do not get to control your future. You might get rich and have many things, but someone else could take away everything you have at any moment.

The Onon River represents the safe path. It is a harder life, but people will leave you alone. You will have enough to live on without having to rely on the help of others. If you don’t care about being famous, this can be a nice way to live. It is hard to develop yourself on the Onon River.

But the Tuul River is a wild card. Nobody knows where it will lead, but you will have to fight to move forward. If you think things through when you take action, you can have an incredible life. It would be better than any life the Kherlen and Onon river could ever offer. But there is danger too. If you are foolish with your planning and do not consider the needs of others, you will fail and your life will be painful.

How to make the best choices in school

If you are in high school getting ready for college or in college getting ready for a career, you have the chance to choose your river. There will be a career or maybe a SO to choose as well. You will go to your Burkhan Khaldun mountain or maybe the mountain will come to you! The truth is that some people think about their choice and others don’t, but everyone chooses a river.

Once you get older, it is very hard to change rivers. Not because you’re not smart or not clever enough, no. It’s just hard to change once we set ourselves on the path of life. Our habits when we are young define us when we are old. And habits are a very hard thing to change.

Please don’t get me wrong. The best river is not the Tuul River. It is not even the Kherlen or the Onon rivers. Instead, the best river is the one that you think through and choose for yourself.

Genghis Khan chose the Tuul River because he loved Borte more than anything else. Like him, we can follow his example and listen to our hearts.

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5 Useful Tips On How to Succeed in School

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By Jacob Hallman | Updated February 4, 2019 | 4 minute read

When it comes to how to succeed in school, there are many ways to approach.

When I was in college, I would get advice like “Have a schedule and stick to it,” “find a mentor,” and “follow your passion.”

I also got lots of advice promoting the value of networking, which is a nice start: Books, Reading, and the Social Aspect Of Learning

But this is not enough if you want to learn how to succeed in life after school.

Education and learning are not synonymous.

Education comes from institutions designed to promote learning, but learning starts with you and me caring enough to push ourselves.

Learning is completely different from thinking.

We gather knowledge and apply it to learn.

We can explain that knowledge to others.

We enjoy learning as it is associated with pleasure.

Learning is not always easy, but it provides great opportunity and improve our quality of life.

So let’s get real about how to succeed in school with five actionable steps. This isn’t a cheap, low input high reward method to getting into Harvard.

The methods will require changing the way you think. But I think the result will be worth it for you.

how to succeed in school

Below are five tips for how to succeed at anything (including school) and make sure your education never gets in the way of your learning.

Avoid busy. Busy is lazy. It means you aren’t thinking through your behavior.

If you go from task to task without taking the time to consider why you do those activities, your enthusiasm will dry up like a sponge on a hot summer day.

As Thomas Frank shows, tricks like speed reading to get everything done are not shortcuts in the long run. Reading comprehension gets sacrificed for speed. Usually, busyness with out direction is taking steps backward.

Stop and think about that.

Why do you do what you do?

Why are you reading this article?

It’s time to act with thoughtfulness as you choose tasks to engage with.

If you decide to do nothing, do nothing only. Being clear about how you spend your time will help to enjoy time for play and time for work alike.

Apply your learning. Because anything less is foolish.

The plan here is very simple.

If you let your learning make you smart and stop there, you are a fool. If you let your learning drive you to action, you will get rich.

People value others who take action.

You will make a better life for yourself if you are willing to move towards things you know you care about. Learning should always have a purpose.

Have you read the speech by President Theodore Roosevelt about the man in the arena?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

No one cares about the accuser. The accuser is on the sideline.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

So as you plan to do something, remember that there is no shame in failure.

Planning to fail is a horrible thing to be avoided, but a well-thought out plan that didn’t work out is an opportunity to learn. It is a chance to get back up and try again.

Make your yes really count. Don’t use it for the small things.

Teachers will always require certain things in school.

Math class will be one of them. The SAT will be another.

However, most schools have tremendous extracurricular opportunities. The fact is that there are too many for any one person to take on.

So make a polite refusal of “no” be your first instinct. And save your “yes” for the things that you really care about.

If someone really wants you involved, they should be able to convince you that the commitment is worth your time.

Strong views, loosely held. Speak confidently, but stay open to reason.

When working in team projects, take the time to think through your position and your work.

Then defend the points you believe with a lot of passion and clearly developed thoughts.

But if someone disagrees with you, make a point of listening to them. If their logic is better, you should be open to changing your mind.

Ignore the noise. Your biggest heroes are still imperfect.

Life can be bigger than you ever dreamed once you realize that everything around you was created by someone who isn’t any smarter than you are.

You can build and make things too such as businesses, products, music, and paintings.

You’re smart, so focus on what you know and love. And don’t worry about what anyone says.

As Teddy Roosevelt pointed, the world will always have its critics.

Own your future, not theirs, and make some waves.

Where are you going to learn?

You can find public and private schools, charter schools or even a home school. Public and private colleges get competition from for-profit colleges and online courses.

These legit options can boost your skills if you put in the time to learn with them.

But none of those schools can do your learning for you.

Without education, you can find always find learning.

But without learning, there is no education.

Are you looking for a real education filled with real learning and not just a nice degree? You should meet our tutors.

The tools you need to succeed, at your fingertips

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Change How You Learn With Genetic Engineering CRISPR

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Imagine you were alive back in the 1980s. You were told that computers would soon take over everything. Shopping, dating, the stock market, everything would be connected via a kind of web. You would also own a handheld device orders of magnitudes more powerful than supercomputers.

It would seem absurd. Right?

Instead, science fiction became our reality.

We’re at a similar point today with genetic engineering.

A very short and incomplete history of genetic modification

Humans have been engineering life for thousands of years, but a recent breakthrough will change how we live and alter what we perceive as normal forever.

James Watson and Francis Crick defined the structure of DNA in 1953. This code of life, Deoxyribonucleic Acid defines our very existence. This is a complex molecule that guides the growth, development, function, and reproduction of everything alive.

Information is encoded in the structure of the molecule. Four nucleotides are paired and make up a code that carries instructions. Change the instructions and you change the being carrying those instructions. As soon as DNA was discovered, people tried to tinker with it.

The past 50 years

In the 1960s, scientist bombarded plants with radiation to cause random mutations in the genetic code. The idea was to get a useful plant variation by pure chance. Sometimes it actually worked too.

In the 1970s, scientists inserted DNA snippets into bacteria, plants, and animals to study and modify them for research, medicine, and agriculture. The earliest genetically modified mouse was born in 1974, making this animal a standard tool for research and saving millions of lives.

In the 1980s, we got commercial. During this time, the first patent was given for a microbe engineered to absorb oil. Today we produce many chemicals by means of engineered life, like life-saving clotting agents, growth hormones, and insulin. Before, we had to harvest these products from the organs of animals.

The genetically modified food went on sale in 1994: the Flavr Savr tomato. It was a tomato with a much longer shelf life thanks to an extra gene that suppresses the build-up of a rotting enzyme. The 1990s also had a brief foray into human engineering. To treat maternal infertility, babies were made that carried genetic information from 3 humans. This made them the first humans ever to have 3 genetic parents.

Fast forward to today and you will find super-muscled pigs, fast-growing salmon, featherless chicken, and see-through frogs. On the fun side, we made things glow in the dark. Fluorescent zebrafish are available for as little as ten dollars. All of this is already very impressive, but until recently gene editing was extremely expensive, complicated, and took a long time to do.

The game changer

This has now changed with a revolutionary new technology now entering the stage—CRISPR. Overnight, the costs of engineering have shrunk by 99%! Instead of a year, it takes a few weeks to conduct experiments, and basically everybody with a lab can do it. It’s hard to get across how big a technical revolution CRISPR is. It literally has the potential to change humanity forever.

But why did this sudden revolution happen and how does it work?

The oldest war on earth

Bacteria and viruses have been fighting since the dawn of life. So-called bacteriophages or phages hunt bacteria. In the ocean, phages kill 40 % of bacteria every single day. Phages do this by inserting their own genetic code into the bacteria and taking them over to use them as factories. The bacteria try to resist but fail most the time because their protection tools are too weak.

However, bacteria sometimes survive an attack. Only if they do so can they activate their most effective antivirus system: they save a part of the virus DNA in their own genetic code in a DNA archive called CRISPR. Here it’s stored safely until it’s needed.

CAS9 is the game changer

When the virus attacks again, the bacterium quickly makes an RNA copy from the DNA archive and arms a secret weapon—a protein called CAS9. The protein now scans the bacterium’s insides for signs of the virus invader by comparing every bit of DNA it finds to the sample from the archive. When it finds a 100-percent perfect match, it’s activated and cuts out the virus DNA, making it useless. This protects the bacterium against the attack.

What’s special is that CAS9 is very precise, almost like a DNA surgeon. The revolution began when scientists figured out that the CRISPR system is programmable. You can just give it a copy of DNA you want to modify and put the system into a living cell. If the old techniques of genetic manipulation were like a map, CRISPR is like a GPS system. Aside from being precise, cheap, and easy, CRISPR offers the ability to edit live cells, to switch genes on and off, and target and study particular DNA sequences.

It also works for every type of cell: microorganisms, plants, animals, or humans. But despite the revolution CRISPR is for science, it’s still just a first generation tool. More precise tools are already being created and used as we speak.

The end of disease?

In 2015, scientists use CRISPR to cut the HIV virus out of living cells from patients in the lab, proving that it was possible. Only about a year later, they carried out a larger scale project with rats that had the HIV virus in basically all of their body cells. By simply injecting CRISPR into the rats tails, they were able to remove more than 50 % of the virus from cells all over the body. In a few decades, a CRISPR therapy might cure HIV and other retroviruses. Viruses that hide inside human DNA like Herpes could be eradicated this way.

CRISPR could also defeat one of our worst enemies—cancer. Cancer occurs when cells refuse to die and keep multiplying while concealing themselves from the immune system. CRISPR gives us the means to edit your immune cells and make them better cancer hunters. Getting rid of cancer might eventually mean getting just a couple of injections of a few thousand of your own cells that have been engineered in the lab to heal you for good.

The first clinical trial for a CRISPR cancer treatment on human patients was approved in early 2016 in the US. Not even a month later, Chinese scientists announced that they would treat lung cancer patients with immune cells modified with CRISPR in August 2016. Things are picking up pace quickly.

And then there are genetic diseases

There are thousands of them and they range from mildly annoying to deadly to entailing decades of suffering. With a powerful tool like CRISPR, we may be able to end this. Over 3,000 genetic diseases are caused by a single incorrect letter in your DNA. We are already building a modified version of CAS9 that is made to change just a single letter, fixing the disease in the cell. In a decade or two, we could possibly cure thousands of diseases forever. But all of these medical applications have one thing in common: they are limited to the individual and die with them, except if you use them on reproductive cells or very early embryos.

But CRISPR can and probably will be used for much more: the creation of modified humans—designer babies—and will mean gradual, but irreversible changes to the human gene pool.

Form follows instruction: Designer babies

The means to edit the genome of a human embryo already exists. The technology is still in its early stages, but it has already been attempted twice. In 2015 and 2016, Chinese scientists experimented with human embryos and were partially successful on their second attempt.

They showed the enormous challenges we still face in gene editing embryos, but also that scientists are working on solving them. This is like the computer in the 1970s. There will be better computers.

Regardless of your personal take on genetic engineering, it will affect you. Modified humans could alter the genome of our entire species, because their engineered traits will be passed on to their children and could spread over generations, slowly modifying the whole gene pool of humanity.

The revolution will start slowly

The first designer babies will not be overly designed. It’s most likely that they will be created to eliminate a deadly genetic disease running in a family. As the technology progresses and gets more refined, more and more people may argue that not using genetic modification is unethical, because it condemns children to preventable suffering and death and denies them the cure.

But as soon as the first engineered kid is born, a door is opened that can’t be closed anymore. Early on, vanity traits will mostly be left alone. But as genetic modification becomes more accepted and our knowledge of our genetic code enhances, the temptation will grow. If you make your offspring immune to Alzheimer, why not also give them an enhanced metabolism? Why not throw in perfect eyesight? How about height or muscular structure? Full hair? How about giving your child the gift of extraordinary intelligence? Huge changes are made as a result of the personal decisions of millions of individuals that accumulate.

This is a slippery slope—Modified humans could become the new standard

But as engineering becomes more normal and our knowledge improves, we could solve the single biggest mortality risk factor: aging. Two-thirds of the 150,000 people who died today will die of age-related causes. Currently we think aging is caused by the accumulation of damage to our cells, like DNA breaks and the systems responsible for fixing those wearing off over time. But there are also genes that directly affect aging. A combination of genetic engineering and other therapy could stop or slow down aging, maybe even reverse it.

We know from nature that there are animals immune to aging such as lobster. Maybe we could even borrow a few genes for ourselves. Some scientists even think biological aging could be something that eventually just stops being a thing.

We would still die at some point, but instead of doing so in hospitals at age 90, we might be able to spend a few thousand years with our loved ones. Research into this is in its infancy, and many scientists are rightly skeptical about the end of aging.

Dream big!

The challenges are enormous and maybe it is unachievable, but it is conceivable the people alive today might be the first to profit from effective anti-aging therapy. All we might need is for someone to convince a smart billionaire to make it their next problem to solve. On a bigger scale, we certainly could solve many problems by having a modified population. Engineered humans might be better equipped to cope with high-energy food, eliminating many diseases of civilization like obesity. In possession of a modified immune system, with a library of potential threats, we might become immune to most diseases that haunt us today.

Even further into the future, we could engineer humans to be equipped for extended space travel and to cope with different conditions on another planets, which would be extremely helpful in keeping us alive in our hostile universe.

Nothing wrong with progress, But.. a few grains of salt

Still, a few major challenges await us: some technological, some ethical. Many of you watching will feel uncomfortable and fear that we will create a world in which we will reject non-perfect humans and pre-select features and qualities based on our idea of what’s healthy.

We are already living in a genetically modified world

Tests for dozens of genetic diseases or complications have become standard for pregnant women in much of the world. Often the mere suspicion of a genetic defect can lead to the end of a pregnancy. Take Down syndrome for example, one of the most common genetic defects. In Europe, about 92 % of all pregnancies where it’s detected are terminated.

The decision to terminate pregnancy is incredibly personal, but it’s important to acknowledge the reality that we are pre-selecting humans based on medical conditions. There is also no use in pretending this will change, so we have to act carefully and respectfully as we advance the technology and can make more and more selections.

Powerful and imperfect solutions

But none of this will happen soon. As powerful as CRISPR is—and it is, it’s not infallible yet. Wrong edits still happen as well as unknown errors that can occur anywhere in the DNA and might go unnoticed. The gene edit might achieve the desired result—disabling a disease, but also might accidentally trigger unwanted changes.

We just don’t know enough yet about the complex interplay of our genes to avoid unpredictable consequences. Working on accuracy and monitoring methods is a major concern as the first human trials begin.

And since we’ve discussed a possible positive future, there are darker visions too. Imagine what a state like North Korea could do if they embraced genetic engineering. Could a state cement its rule forever by forcing gene editing on their subjects? What would stop a totalitarian regime from engineering an army of modified super soldiers? It is doable in theory. Scenarios like this one are far, far off into the future, if they ever become possible at all. But the basic proof of concept for genetic engineering like this already exists today.

The technology really is that powerful

While this might be a tempting reason to ban genetic editing and related research, that would certainly be a mistake. Banning human genetic engineering would only lead to the science wandering off to a place with jurisdiction and rules that we are uncomfortable with. Only by participating can we make sure that further research is guided by caution, reason, oversight, and transparency.

Let’s wrap this up: Conclusion

Do you feel uncomfortable now? Genetically speaking, most of us have something wrong with us. In the future that lies ahead, would we have been allowed to exist? The technology is certainly a bit scary, but we have a lot to gain. Genetic engineering might just be a step in the natural evolution of intelligent species in the universe. We might end disease. We could extend our life expectancy by centuries and travel to the stars. There’s no need to think small when it comes to this topic. Whatever your opinion on genetic engineering, the future is approaching no matter what. What has been insane science fiction is about to become our new reality, a reality full of opportunities and challenges.

Original content by Kurzgesagt – In A Nutshell

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Study Tips: Human thinking explained

human thinking explained

It isn’t easy to have human thinking explained. For most of us, thinking is at least somewhat unpleasant. We try to avoid it, where possible.

The reality is that we all have blind spots in our thinking due to the fundamental way that our brains work. One way of modeling how the brain operates is as though there are two systems at work.

Drew and Hazelyn

Psychologists call them system one and system two, but maybe it’s useful to think of them as characters. So let’s call system one Hazelyn and system two Drew.

Drew represents your conscious thought, the voice in your head. This is the voice that says, “I am who you think you are.” He’s the one capable of following instructions. Drew can execute a series of steps too. But Drew is lazy. It takes effort to get Drew to do anything, and he is slow. But he’s also the careful one, capable of catching and fixing mistakes.

Now meet system one, Hazelyn. She is incredibly quick, which she needs to be since she’s constantly processing lots of information coming through your senses. Hazelyn picks out the relevant bits and discards the rest, which is most of it. She also works automatically without Drew being consciously aware of it.

The way I like to think of these characters is related to one of your main memory structures. Hazelyn’s automatic responses are made possible by long-term memory. This is the library of experiences you’ve built up over your lifetime.

In contrast, Drew exists entirely within working memory so he’s only capable of holding four or five novel things in mind at a time. This is perhaps one of the best-known findings from psychology. Our capacity to hold and manipulate novel information is incredibly limited like when trying to remember a string of random numbers.

But we are able to overcome these limitations if the information is familiar to us.

How to test Drew

Let me give you four random digits “8102″. Now these would normally take up most of your working memory capacity just to remember. But if you reverse them, 2018, they are now just the present year.

The process of grouping things together according to your prior knowledge is called chunking. You can actually hold four or five chunks in working memory at once. So the larger the chunks the more information you can actively manipulate at one time.

Learning is then the process of building bigger chunks by storing and further connecting information in long-term memory. This is essentially passing off tasks from Drew to Hazelyn. In order for this to happen, Drew first has to engage with the information actively, often multiple times.

For example, when you were first learning to tie your shoelaces, you probably recited a rhyme to help you remember what to do next. You used up all your working memory in the process. But after doing it over and over and over again, it gradually became automatic. Drew doesn’t have to think about it anymore because Hazelyn gets it.

Musicians and sports stars refer to this as muscle memory. Of course, the memory is not the muscles. It’s still in the brain, just controlled by Hazelyn. Slow and deliberate conscious practice repeated often enough leads to automatic processes.

99% of the time what appears to be superhuman ability comes down to the incredible automation skills of Hazelyn and developed through the painstaking deliberate practice of Drew. What’s interesting is that it’s actually possible to see how hard Drew is working just by looking at someone.

Here’s an exercise

I’m going to show you four digits, I want you to read them out loud and then after two seconds, I want you to say each number, but adding one to each digit.

So, as an example, 7 2 9 1 should be… 8 3 0 2. This is called the Add One task and it forces Drew to hold these digits and memory while making manipulations to them.

Now it’s important to say the numbers at the end of two seconds, but this time try to add three. Ready? Here’s another one:






What you’re unaware of is that as you’re completing this task, your pupils are dilating. When Drew is hard at work as he is in this task, you have a physical response. This includes increased heart rate, sweat production, and pupil dilation.

When this research was originally carried out, the researchers made a surprising observation. When the participants were not engaged with the tasks and were just chatting with the experimenters, their pupils didn’t really dilate at all. This indicates that the Add One and Add Three tasks are particularly strenuous for system two. Most of our day-to-day life is a stroll for Drew with most tasks are handled automatically by Hazelyn. We spend a lot of our lives lounging around. Our brains also spend most of their time doing the mental equivalent.

And I don’t mean to make that sound like a bad thing! This is how our brains evolved to make the best use of resources. For repetitive tasks, we developed automatic ways of doing things, reserving Drew’s limited capacity for things that really need our attention. In some circumstances, there can be mix-ups of course.

For example, if you spend any amount of time in Australia, one of the first things you will need to relearn is to turn the lights on by flicking the switch down. If you grew up in North America, Drew, “knows” that “down” was “off” in Australia. Oops!

Drew endorses the idea of flipping the switch down to turn off without being consciously aware that the answer came from Hazelyn. He goes forward without checking it. After all, the direction sounds reasonable and Drew is lazy.

So how do you get Drew to do more work?

Researchers have found at least one way. When they gave out a clearly printed test including the “Bat and Ball”question to incoming college students, 85% got at least one wrong. When they printed the test in a hard-to-read font with poor contrast, the error rate dropped to thirty-five percent. The harder to read test resulted in more correct answers. The explanation for this is simple. Since Hazelyn can’t quickly jump to an answer, he hands off the task to Drew who then invests the required mental effort to reason his way to the correct answer.

When something is confusing, Drew works harder. When Drew works harder, you’re more likely to reach the right answer and remember the experience.

This is something the advertising industry can use to its advantage.

Here’s a billboard with no clear meaning:

human thinking explained studygate

There is no logo and no indication of what it is for. This seems to go against all the basic principles of advertising. The viewer should see what the product does, how it’s better than the competition, and observe clear branding. The goal is usually to make the message as easy to understand as possible so Drew doesn’t have to work very hard.

But if you look at a lot of effective advertising today, it’s changed to be more confusing. There really is an “Un” advertisement campaign in Sydney, Australia, and they are everywhere. With “Un” there is no stress, just unstress. No hassle, just unhastle. With “Un” you can undo what you did, you can undrive through the car wash with the window down or unbreak dance in front of your teenage son. And his friends. “Un” makes life relaxing and unreal. “Un” your life. Be happy and live for now. Don’t worry. Unworry.

Can you guess what the ads were for?

They’re actually for insurance.

Now that advertising is everywhere, Hazelyn is skilled at filtering it out. If I see another insurance ad, I never would give it a second thought. But if something doesn’t make sense, my mind refers it to Drew.

This same realization has been happening in education. Lectures which have long been the dominant teaching method are now on the decline.

Like the old form of advertising, they’re too easy to tune out and often, especially in science lectures, too many new pieces of information are presented. That exceeds Drew’s capacity because he doesn’t have big enough chunks to break the material into.

In place of lectures, universities are introducing workshops, peer instruction, and formats where students are forced to answer more questions, and do more work than just listen and take notes.

This will undoubtedly make Drew work harder, which is good because that’s how learning happens, but a lot of students don’t like it because it requires more effort. Just as it’s hard to motivate someone to get off the couch and exercise, it’s hard to get Drew to give his full effort. There’s an appeal to doing things you already know.

That’s why we need Hazelyn to push Drew and do something new.

Original content by Veritasium

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