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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Skill You're Slowly Losing

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- This video is sponsored by Brilliant.

And the first 200 people to sign up

with the link in the description down below are going to get

20% off their annual premium Brilliant subscription.

The internet is an instant answer machine.

Whenever you have a question,

all you need to do to get an answer

is to bring up Google on your computer

or to poll your phone.

Or if you're feeling particularly lazy,

ask one of the many voice assistants that are,

let's be real here, definitely always listening to you.

Hey Siri, how do I stop procrastinating?

- [Siri] Have you tried not being literally

the laziest piece of crap in the world?

- But out here, on this frozen lake, there is no service.

Which means that if I run into a problem,

or if I come across something that I don't know,

the only thing I have to rely on

is the bundle of neurons up in my cranium.

Which, to be honest, contains a vastly more limited set

of answers and knowledge than I'll find on the internet.

But maybe that's a good thing.

See, when I was taking calculus in the 10th grade,

I developed a bad habit of sorts.

Calculus was really hard for me.

So I would often go to the commons area

of the math department to get help from the professors

in the mornings.

And at some point, I realized that they left

the instructor's edition of the textbook,

which had all of the answers in the back,

just out on the table in that commons area.

So naturally, I started going to the commons area

at six a.m. to do all of my homework.

And a pattern started to develop

where I would get stuck on a calculus problem,

get stuck on some part of a derivative or something,

and then I would eventually go to the back of the book

to get the answer.

I had this threshold where I became mentally lazy

and went for those answers.

And because the book was right in front of me

and I had access to those answers all the time,

over time, my threshold for giving up lowered

and lowered and lowered.

And in recent years, I've seen this pattern emerge

on a larger scale and a more general scale

with regards to that magical answer machine

that you're using to watch this video right now.

For all its benefits, the internet can encourage

the formation of habits that make us mentally lazy.

And this isn't just an anecdotal observation, either.

There is data to back this up.

For example, a study done at Harvard in 2011

found that when people are faced with difficult questions,

they're now more primed to think about computers.

And it also found that when they expect to have

future access to information,

they have lower rates of recall for the information itself

and higher recall for where they can access it.

Essentially, we start to perceive the internet

as a true extension to our brain's memory banks.

This is called cognitive offloading.

And more recent research has found that the more we use

the internet to answer questions, the more quickly

we turn to it in the future.

Cognitive offloading begets more cognitive offloading.

And this is congruent with the habits we form

around other effort-saving technologies,

like washing machines and cars.

And some people would say that's okay,

that it's no different than how we moved away

from specializing in oral memorization

when the printing press was invented.

And well, we didn't really lose much

in that transition, right?

But this time, it is different.

The problem with the internet is we don't seem to limit

our mental outsourcing to simple facts.

Our critical thinking abilities are affected as well.

Take the case of Terry Hike,

who was an English teacher who asked his students

the question how do modern novels

represent the characteristics of humanity.

And don't worry, I'm not going to quiz you

on this question later on.

But the question was meant

to challenge the students' critical thinking skills.

And instead of thinking independently about the question

like he wanted them to,

Hike found that they immediately started to Google it.

The effort-saving technology was so close at hand

that it had become the default problem solving method

for his students.

And this example is typical of our behavior as a whole.

Unless we consciously work against it,

our brains naturally want to take the path

of least resistance.

When I was in college, the closest I could park my car

was about half a mile from my dorm,

which meant that I basically never used it.

Instead, I just walked everywhere,

or sometimes grabbed my skateboard or rode my bike.

But now that it sits here in my garage,

well, I have to make a conscious, disciplined effort

not to use it.

And make no mistake, it's worth making that effort.

Every time I choose not to drive, I get exercise.

I spend more time truly connected with my surroundings.

And I don't contribute to traffic and pollution.

But at the same time, without my car,

I wouldn't be able to get to many of the places

that I really want to go.

What's up world?

The internet presents us with the exact same dilemma.

While there are very real benefits to curbing

the amount of cognitive offloading we unconsciously do,

the access to knowledge

and the ability to get instant answers

are both incredibly useful.

Alexa, how many ounces are in a pint?

- [Alexa] One pint is 16 fluid ounces.

- So how do you strike a balance?

How do you allow yourself to use this tool

while also retaining your critical thinking skills?

This is incredibly important to consider,

given the fact that sometimes,

we're going to encounter problems

where the internet simply can't help us.

And other times, we're going to be in places

where we don't have access to the internet.

So here's a simple solution to this problem.

When you're confronted with a question

that you don't know the answer to,

or you're stuck on a problem, ask yourself,

do I have even a shred of confidence

that I could solve this on my own?

If the answer to that question is yes,

then challenge yourself to work on the problem

for a few minutes on your own before running to Google.

A friend of mine works at a company

where they've actually codified a very similar idea

into something they call the 15-minute rule.

When anyone at the company finds themselves

stuck on a problem to the point

where they feel like they need help,

the first thing they have to do is spend 15 more minutes

trying to solve it,

while also documenting the things that they try.

And this documentation process is actually quite helpful,

because it causes them to think about the problem

from a different perspective,

which often helps them solve the problem on their own.

But if they're still stuck after 15 minutes,

that's when they must ask for help.

And this rule helps everyone to strike a balance.

They stay in the habit of thinking independently,

but no one wastes too much time

banging their heads against problems they're truly stuck on.

And I think that this is a great way to achieve balance

in the way that you use the internet.

Because you don't want to lose the capabilities

that it gives you.

It is incredibly powerful.

But you also want to retain your own ability

and your instinct to solve problems on your own,

to use your brain,

and to be able to put it to work.

And the only way you're going to do that

is if you frequently put it to work.

In his book "Atomic Habits,"

the author James Clear talks about

how our habits are basically how we embody our identities.

One example he gives is if you make your bed every day,

you are embodying the identity of a person

who is cleanly and organized.

And the decisions that we make,

the behavior that we exhibit on a daily basis,

stems largely from our identities.

"Every action you take is a vote

"for the type of person you wish to become.

"No single instance will transform your beliefs,

"but as the votes build up,

"so too does the evidence of your new identity."

So what identity do you want to build?

Are you okay with being the mentally lazy person

who outsources everything to machines?

Or will you be the independent problem solver

for whom the internet is simply one useful tool?

The choice is yours.

All right, I am back into civilization.

And well, now back dealing with all the problems

that come along with civilization.

Now, if you want to become a truly creative problem solver,

you do need to spend time

trying to independent solve problems

like we just talked about.

But you also need good problems to sink your teeth into.

And if you're looking for a resource

that will give you those great problems

along with the ability to expand your knowledge base

in the areas of math, science, and computer science,

then you should check out Brilliant.

Because in their library of more than 60 in-depth courses,

you are going to find tons of material that helps you

to actively become a better problem solver

and actively learn things like calculus, like number theory,

like gravitational physics, Python programming,

and the fundamentals of computer algorithms.

They even have a course on how search engines works.

So if you've ever been curious about how Google

instantaneously serves you search results,

then that is a great course to take.

The best thing about Brilliant, though,

is that every single one of their courses is built

with the principle of active learning in mind.

So you're not just gonna be sitting there

intaking videos or reading text.

There are code writing challenges,

story writing challenges, quizzes.

You get to really interact with the information.

And that helps you learn more efficiently

and stay more interested for longer while you're learning.

And in addition to that library of courses,

Brilliant also has a feature called Daily Challenges,

where every single day, you can log in

and get a brand new challenge to number one,

make learning and problem solving a daily habit,

but number two, expand your horizons.

Maybe sink your teeth into something

that you haven't really considered before.

Now, with Brilliant's free plan,

you get access to those new Daily Challenges

every single day.

And if you want to subscribe to their premium option,

you'll get access to all of those courses

and every single Daily Challenge that has been released

since the beginning.

And if you're one of the first 200 people

to go over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank

and sign up, you're going to get 20% off

that annual premium subscription.

Huge thanks, as always, to Brilliant

for sponsoring this video

and being a big supporter of my channel.

And thank you so much for watching.

If you enjoyed this video,

definitely hit that Like button

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Check that out.

And once again, thanks for watching.

I'll see you.

Go do whatever you want.

I'm not your dad.

Yeah, bye.

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