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Learning Something New

Over the years I’ve added a few podcasts to my rotation that I enjoy because they teach me. I’ve previously talked about The Allussionist. Another educational podcast I listen to that makes me think and sparks conversation is Freakonomics Radio.

Freakonomics Radio is a podcast companion to a series of Freakonomics books, in which economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner use economic methods to speculate on and make sense of events. Their most famous story came from the first book, where they posit that decriminalizing abortion lead to a drop in the crime rate 15 years later (put simply: economics dictates that crime is motivated by a lack of resources, influenced by upbringing, and primarily caused by teens + unwanted pregnancy impacts resources resources and availability of parents to parent = teenage criminals).

Recently, they rebroadcast an episode titled 5 Psychology Terms You’re Probably Misusing. This is my bread and butter. Taking something I interact with regularly and without thought and pointing out there is greater depth than I realized, I love it. I find it especially interesting when the modern use of a term is in direct contrast to the origin of the term.

Learning Curve

You are probably familiar with the term “learning curve.” It’s a simple concept with an embedded visual: some kind of graph measuring amounts of learning and the difficulty of learning it. The steeper, the harder.

Twist: Nope!

A learning curve measures amount learned over time. The shorter the time it takes to learn something, ie the easier it is to learn, the steeper the curve. If it takes a long time to learn something, ie harder to learn, you have a shallow learning curve.

To illustrate, the above graphic shows both a shallow learning curve (Days 1 to 3) and a steep learn (Day 3 to 4). In the shallowest section, day 1 to 2, the least amount of learning happens. The steepest section, day 3 to 4, the most learning happens.

Now you know!