11/04/2014 04:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Can You Learn Things Without Having to Memorize?

How do I learn without memorising?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.


Answer by Evan DeFilippis, Manager at Innovations for Poverty Action

Do you ever wonder how Jeopardy champions have so much seemingly unrelated knowledge in their brain, how many hours they must have spent memorizing trivia? Ask any of them how they memorize so much information, and you would be missing the point.

There is no memorization involved. The only thing trivia champions, top students, Renaissance men, Nobel Laureates, and so on, have in common is that they are crucially and bizarrely interested in EVERYTHING.

Take sports, for example. I have friends that can recite entire rosters from different football, basketball, and baseball teams, they can tell you who won the big tournaments at what time, and so forth, but they are completely unable to memorize historical dates without excruciating labor. Sports buffs don't dedicate any time to studying sports trivia, it's simply interesting to them, and therefore inherently more memorable. Our brains are literally hard-wired to effortlessly internalize and reproduce information-- our survival depends on it. So, you just have to make yourself believe that this piece of information is really important.

The trick is convincing yourself that what you're learning is interesting. Connect it in some abstract ways to things you really do find interesting, or explain to yourself why specific information is important to your success. If you want to effortlessly memorize something, the solution is to avoid memorization altogether; simply be interested.

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