Collection: Charlie Munger - #178 'Learn The Method of Learning'



[Transcript]

LARRY BURGESS 00:00

You have such a variety and depth of diverse interests and ways in which you acquire knowledge and observations, and all the rest. But where do you think we're headed in terms of specialization versus a broad-based? At least –


CHARLIE MUNGER 00:17

Well, of course specialization is the safest way up for most people. And for that reason, say surgeons, know more and more about less and less. And that's what gets rewarded. If you have a nasty fistula in your colon, you do not want a surgeon [Inaudible] through political science. (Laughter)


It's understandable how the world rewards this specialization. I never liked it and I loved picking up new ideas being a great – passionate reader. And so I decided I'd make whatever living and I could make, doing what I like to do which is sort of wrapping over a whole field.


I do not recommend it to other people because the safe way up is to know a hell a lot about something and under our system they find you out. Now, Esri wouldn't work very well if you also rake lawns, you know.


JACK DANGERMOND 01:25

You never know. (Laughter) I've done my share of it.


CHARLIE MUNGER 01:29

Yeah, well, I mean – but if you had everybody out here working by the hour raking lawns on the spare time, it wouldn't work very well.


JACK DANGERMOND 01:38

I think what Larry's trying to get at is the role of a liberal arts education? What is your thoughts about that?


CHARLIE MUNGER 01:45

Well, it's an enormous advantage. Of course, if you learn your own language, that's a very useful gift. And, of course, learning the basic math of life is another tremendous gift. And if you're really good at picking up language and doing just basic arithmetic, you can take enormous territory. You don't need much else.


I have never looked at the calculus problem since I left Caltech. Never left it, never looked once, never used it and I was a whiz. By the way, I went away totally. (Laughter)


70 some years, I was enough. Yeah, I don't know about your calculus but mine was is gone. (Laughter)


And so but this other stuff never goes away. And if you keep honing it and if you get good at it. Then you learn something that's more important than what they teach you in college. Is you learn the method of learning.


When I want to know something, I just learned it and take for instance, I got to the Harvard Law School, I couldn't figure out how Reverend Moon was inviting people out to one weekend and they came back brainwashed zombies for the rest of their lives.


And I just – nobody in the Harvard Law School could explain it to me. So I saw I'll figure it out for myself, you know, my mother had a little nursery rhyme a little heady – a little red hen said – I'll do it myself said the little red hen. So I said I'll figure this out, it took me a long time.


But I finally figured out to my satisfaction exactly what was being done. They were just – and they just stumbled into this through practice evolution, it wasn't calculated for thought.


They just assembled a bunch of psychological tricks impounded the one these people all at once under conditions involving stress. And at a certain point the brain would just snap and they had these people transformed into slaves. Boom.


Why that was a very interesting thing but of course nobody wants to talk about it because it has implications people fear. But I think that the – that habit of – if they won't explain it to you, figure it out for yourself has helped me enormously in life.


It's also hurt me because it gave terrible offense when you go into somebody else's profession and act like, you know more than he does. And I've – I'm much smoother now than I was when I was young. (Laughter)


And I'm still pretty insufferable. (Laughter)


(Source: https://youtu.be/Rh1WCzfCP24)

 

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