E37: Mattias Ribbing – Speed Up Learning, Think Pictorially, and the Future School System (Part 1/2)

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Bio: Mattias Ribbing is an author, educator, and 3-time Swedish champion of memory sport. He’s also become a Grandmaster of Memory internationally. Mattias sits down for a conversation about mnemonics, biohacking, self-improvement, minimalism, and his thoughts on improving the school system.

Episode Summary:


Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E37: Mattias Ribbing – Speed Up Learning, Think Pictorially, and the Future School System

  • How Mattias Ribbing became a Grandmaster of Memory: He had one hour to memorize 1000 random digits in their exact order. He also memorized 10 decks of cards.
  • To achieve this level of mastery, Mattias didn’t focus on learning how to memorize information like you would in school.
  • Instead, he focused on learning how to cooperate with his brain and thereby make the learning process faster, simpler and less painful.
  • Mattias’ goal to learn efficiently came out of laziness.
  • He got tired of taking endless notes to retain just a small chunk of the information that was presented… and later forget it.
  • He wanted to be able to listen to something and retain it on the spot.
  • There are 5 different senses (vision, smell, touch, hearing, taste) involved in learning information and the most efficient by far is visualization.
  • By thinking in images you increase understanding, memory, focus, energy and your ability to think logically and quicker.
  • It’s the best way to get your brain to work the way it’s meant to work.
  • Memory in itself is not that important because it is a consequence of what has happened before.
  • When doing presentations a lot of people assume Mattias is a master of memorization.
  • Then he comes in to present his memorization of a newspaper, but with a twist.
  • He doesn’t memorize things word for word.
  • Instead he will learn the contents, names, statistics and numbers of every article in a newspaper.
  • He won’t be able to recite the whole paper.
  • The bottom line is that Mattias Ribbing is not focused on memorizing material like a robot.
  • He’s focused on using his brain in the most efficient way for learning.
  • When you learn through visualization you can trust your brain much better and you become a better decision maker.
  • Things you visualize affect your decision making on the spot when you’re not thinking.
  • Through visualization you’ve created an experience for the brain so the brain always refers to it.
  • When you want to learn a new language through mechanical learning your brain has to translate everything before you can say your sentence in the new language.
  • Instead, when we see the image of the word, the brain constantly knows the word in the new language because it doesn’t have to translate anything.
  • You want to visualize things in 3 dimensions: Large, in color and in detail
  • Just visualizing for a 1 second fragment is enough.
  • Thinking in images is like giving your brain folders on a computer. (It’s a navigation system).
  • By learning and retaining information through images we can make the most dry material interesting.
  • The Memory palace: Connect familiar locations to new things you are learning.
  • If you have a grocery store downstairs you are familiar with and you are learning a new word in a new language, you can connect the new word to the grocery store downstairs.
  • To make the memory palace learning method better you can use objects instead of locations since you are familiar with more objections than locations.
  • You can connect a new word you are learning to the ketchup you usually buy at the grocery store.
  • When Mattias does research for a book in the car he will listen to an audiobook on 2 x speed.
  • Once he reaches a part that’s useful he will use images to remember the time where this part was.
  • Later when he is at his work station he will look this part up.
  • He can do this with 40 parts or more during a long trip.
  • People who excel in a field often think of their work through movies and images.
  • John von Neumann (mathematician): Can see numbers on a scale.
  • Ray Dalio: Visualizes the economy.
  • Curren$y the rapper: Sees a movie then raps about the movie.

Oskar Faarkrog

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