The Biggest Bluff

2nd October 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, by Maria Konnikova. What a fantastic book! Maria has a doctorate in social psychology from Columbia. But instead of going into academia, after a bout of sad events in her family, and with the stalwart support of her husband, Maria decided to tackle the world of high stakes poker.  Armed only with her own chutzpah (she had no knowledge whatsoever of poker), and a deviously informative research paper, she convinced one of the world’s best poker players to take her on as a student. This extraordinary book tells her tale. What turns this book into a master work is that Konnikova turns her psychoanalytic skills on herself.  As she observes:

“What I will offer throughout is insight into decision making far removed from poker, a translation of what I’m learning in the casino to the decisions I make on a daily basis—and the crucial decisions that I make only rarely, but that carry particular import. From managing emotion, to reading other people, to cutting your losses and maximizing your gains, to psyching yourself up into the best version of yourself so that you can not only catch the bluffs of others but bluff successfully yourself, poker is endlessly applicable and revelatory. The mixture of chance and skill at the table is a mirror to that same mixture in our daily lives—and a way of learning to play within those parameters in superior fashion. Poker teaches you how and when you can take true control—and how you can deal with the elements of pure luck—in a way no other environment I’ve encountered has quite been able to do. What’s more, in an age of omnipresent distraction, poker reminds us just how critical close observation and presence are to achievement and success. How important it is to immerse yourself and to learn new things, truly… This book isn’t about how to play poker. It’s about how to play the world.”

This book is a wow—enjoy it now! (Also great for audio.)

A Review of the MOOC “Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook friend is wrong.”

Scott Mathews, Scott Mathews, Lead Mentor of our follow-on course, Mindshift, has another hum-dinger review of a MOOC for us.  

“Are you looking for a thorough review of the scientific method, research methodology, and statistical analysis? Are you new to these topics but want to understand them? If so, I highly recommend the Coursera course, ‘Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook friend is wrong.’ Another excellent course from Yale, I would consider the seven weeks of lectures and limited readings to be the equivalent of a full-semester undergraduate course, based on my own experience with such.

The instructor, Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE, Associate Professor Term; Director, Clinical and Translational Research Accelerator (CTRA); Course Director, Interpretation of the Medical Literature; Co Director, Human Genetics and Clinical Research Core at Yale, Is obviously highly qualified to teach the course. Despite his impressive credentials, Professor Wilson is highly engaging and relatable, with a great sense of humor. 

“To serve as examples, he conducts ‘studies’ such as asking Yale students at random whether he looks more or less intelligent when wearing glasses. He then presents actual studies and walks learners through the process of design, implementation, and interpretation. 

“The week spent on statistics could almost be a semester-length course in itself. The use of graphics and media in the presentations is superior, some of the best and most interesting that I have ever seen. The content is timely, including a lecture on interpreting COVID-19 studies. 

“Anyone with an interest in scientific research would enjoy this course and could probably learn from it, even those with prior knowledge of the topics.”

How to Memorize all 50 US States

Looking to help your kids improve their understanding of the United States and where the States are?  Never fear, memory expert Nelson Dellis is here. Don’t forget Nelson’s terrific books on memory: 

A Podcast between Atharva Khisti and Barb on Mentor Chat

Here’s a fun-to-listen to as well as informative chat between Atharva and Barb—enjoy!

Avoid Training Wheels

This thought-provoking article about training wheels, which notes the counterintuitive ways that training wheels may actually hinder learning.  As MIT engineering professor David Gordon Wilson observes in his classic, Bicycling Science, “It’s hard to see how training wheels can inculcate any of the desired balancing habits, unless they are off the ground.” How many other ways do we perhaps “help” but actually hinder learners?  

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

  • Get the course recommended text, A Mind for Numbers!
  • And Learning How to Learn, a book for kids and parents.
  • (Do you tend to read footnote stuff like this that most people ignore? If so, especially for you, you sharp-eyed person, here’s a stealthy introduction to Barb’s newest book, with info on learning found nowhere else, coming out next June from St. Martin’s Press: Learn Like a Pro)

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