The Wisdom in Deliberate Unlearning

Einstein said ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them’.

James Altucher says we are moving from Theisim ==> Humaniam ==> Data-ism.

When people got sick in the 19th century they’d pray to God for help. In the 21st century they go to a doctor. We are already approaching the age of turning to data for the cure. Who knows what’s next… Artificial Intelligence?

That’s just an example of unlearning what doesn’t work and re-learning what does.

The map of 1990 has roads on it that no longer exist and have been replaced by newer infrastructure with more direct routes to our destinations.

That’s what information is like. Ever morphing and improving. We have to keep up with what is new by unlearning what we think we know to allow new knowledge to supersede.

The solution to greater wisdom is deliberate unlearning through:

  1. Doubting our present knowledge. In order to learn something new we must first acknowledge that we may be wrong.
  2. Accepting that we may be wrong. Accept that our previous way of thinking may have worked before but can now be incorrect.
  3. Letting go of what we think we know.
  4. Seeking proof today for or against the validity of that knowledge.
  5. Pursuing understanding based on new available knowledge. 
  6. Being open to accepting the new.

It is painful to accept that we were once an expert in something but no longer are.

Peak learning occurs in the first 25 years of life. Thereafter we tend to refine and cling onto our knowledge as if it defines our intelligence or expertise.

John Cage said, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

To deliberately unlearn is a huge step forward for humankind as contrary as that seems.

We must unlearn the things that separate us from each other and learn all the things that connect us.

Intuition is important in understanding that our understanding is flawed.

Learning something new is the beginning of all wisdom.

Wisdom also comes through letting go, subtracting the knowledge which no longer serves us or those around us.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 What do you think about deliberate unlearning? Comment below.

Post inspired by Derek Sivers book ‘Hell Yeah or No’.



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