A Second Exposure: How to Actually Learn

A Second Exposure: How to Actually Learn
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been returning to podcasts I’ve already finished.

I re-listened to a Huberman Lab episode with Sam Harris. It’s a 4+ hour monster about meditation, consciousness, and self-perception. I barely hung on during the first listen and struggled to fully grasp Sam Harris’s unique insights.

During my second listen, I was shocked by how much I missed. Entire sections felt brand new when I thought I’d just be refreshing my knowledge.

How did this happen?

First exposures with new information are only outlines. Complex topics require groundwork before learning begins, and we cannot leapfrog to complete understanding.

It’s the second exposure that’s critical. After being primed by our first exposure, we can learn and pick apart new insights during our second exposure.

I got more out of my second round with Sam Harris than my first. The expectations were set, allowing me to connect the dots and refine nuances.

Result: more learning + a better understanding (but a third exposure wouldn’t hurt for this one!).

It’s never been easier to avoid a second exposure.

There are infinite books, podcasts, movies, TV shows, and social media posts to entertain you with first exposures until death.

Why settle for a rough draft? You may find more value in old topics rather than exploring something new.

Of course, a second exposure doubles the time to learn. But retention seems to at least double.

Who knew learning about learning would be so interesting?

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The mentioned podcast episode:

Dr. Sam Harris: Using Meditation to Focus, View Consciousness & Expand Your Mind | Huberman Lab 105
My guest is Sam Harris, Ph.D. Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Stanford University and his doctorate (Ph.D.) in neuroscience from the Univ…