In our journey of sharing the investing wisdom with Safal Niveshak tribe, we’ve always highlighted the importance of reading books. We are an ardent subscriber to Charlie Munger’s idea of minimizing the stupidity and mistakes in life. And a big part of the quest to avoid mistakes is to learn from others’ mistakes. That’s where books come into the picture. They’re the best source of vicarious knowledge.
Reading books involves the use of eyes which engages a certain part of the brain which in turn exercises a specific section of neural machinery. However, when it comes to learning, one should be open to the idea of absorbing knowledge through multiple senses. Involving multiple senses fires up neurons in different locations of our brain. This creates the possibility of brand new connections between previously unrelated brain cells. These unprecedented linkages give you brain an enhanced ability to perceive the world and generate brand new insights.
Guy Spier, in his book The Education of Value Investor, mentions that someone gifted him an audio CD of Charlie Munger’s talk at Harvard on the 24 standard causes of human misjudgment. And there was an 18-month period, writes Guy, “during which this was the only CD in my car’s entertainment system.” He probably listened to Charlie’s talk hundreds of times.
So, to experiment with this idea, I have been trying to learn through my ears. One way to do that is to listen to the audio versions of the books. For that, I subscribed to Audible and listened to quite a few audio books. My experience with audiobooks led me to the conclusion that listening to biographies and fiction is quite enjoyable. And there are evolutionary reasons behind it. The technology of writing and reading came into existence quite late in the history of human evolution. The human brain hasn’t yet adapted naturally to the idea of learning things by reading. However, for millions of years, the knowledge was transferred from one person to another by narrating stories. So, sound was the primary mode of sharing and propagating information for majority of human evolution timeline.
Which confirms my personal observation about my inability to absorb any information in audio form if the content is not in a story format. The human brain was able to think about complex matters precisely because of the invention of written word. We learn to do complex algebra and calculus in school because the process involves delegating all the steps to paper. If you had to do it all in your head, 99.99 percent of the people would find it almost impossible. Our brains aren’t wired to do that.
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