Here Is What to Do if You Want to Understand a Topic Better.

If you want to understand a book better you must surround your topic.


Teronie Donaldson

2 years ago | 3 min read

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you want to understand a book better you must surround your topic.

What does that mean exactly?

The abundance of information makes it easy to be a dilettante in many areas. It is great to have a wide range of knowledge, however, we are in an era where everyone is an “expert.” At least according to their Linkedin pages.

I came across a fellow who wanted to teach me how to make a killing investing in cryptocurrencies. Intrigued, I asked a few questions based on research I did over the last few weeks.

Questions like;

What is Bitcoin, and what’s so good about it?

What is a blockchain?

How does blockchain work? etc.

Questions to test if my research was good. This way the “expert” could educate me.

Alarm bells started ringing when he couldn’t answer the questions. He got flustered and said to me “Honestly bro, I just took a weekend course and I’m still learning — but you can’t go wrong, it's the future.”

Sure he is probably correct but I declined his services. The fact he couldn’t go deep on the subject matter he claimed to be the expert in was a red flag. The fellow wanted a quick commission, off my back.

In the age of information, you have to be careful of people who claim they are experts. Some are genuine but others are modern-day snake oil salesmen.

Consequently, in our info age, you have to beware of becoming “the person of a single book.”

In other words;

It is better to know one topic intimately than a hundred superficially.

If you want knowledge and understanding on any topic, you have to go deep, not shallow. If you read one book on a subject and utilize it as the cornerstone for your wisdom on everything, then you have to wonder how sound is your wisdom.

With any topic, there are so many angles and viewpoints that there is no way to know it all. Relying on a few books, you have to wonder how complete is your knowledge of that topic, or even its accuracy.

So why is it a challenge to want to understand a topic better?

I could ask the cryptocurrency “expert” I came across, but I already know the answer.

Simply, studying takes effort.

Reading a book can be seen as a chore. Too often people utilize the low-hanging fruit of one popular book or article as the basis for their entire belief system, and they remain stubbornly confident in their knowledge.

If you dont believe me check out the “Facebook professors” who tell you everything about a topic because they read it from, you guessed it, “Facebook.”

Or the know-it-all friend who is convinced everyone else is wrong, except for them.

We are surrounded by an excess of information, and by people who won’t deep dive on a topic. It’s easy to superficially learn a topic and become the foremost expert on a weekend. But you must be careful of this behavior as it solidifies confirmation bias.

As humans, we tend to use our experiences as the basis for our beliefs. The unfortunate part is we do so without testing our theories, at least past a weekend.

Keep this in mind, your personal experiences make up a tiny fraction of what has happened worldwide, but a large portion of how you think the world works. What we think gets multiplied since we are biased to our own experiences.

After all, no one knows you better than yourself.

The best way to tackle this situation is by reading a wide variety of books on the same subject matter.

By reading, you start to understand the subject from different angles, perspectives, and styles. In addition, you get conclusions from different arguments you normally wouldn’t be exposed to within your circle. As everyone has their own confirmation biases. Add this entire context to your education and experiences and you will be extremely knowledgeable — Thereby surrounding your topic.

Now you may not be looking to become an expert but you will know a lot more than you did before. Especially past a weekend.

Hope this helps.

Bonus tip.

If you don’t know how to surround your topic or don’t know where to start, look at the footnotes or bibliography of your favorite books.

You will be off to an incredible reading journey with the material the author used to compile his book.

Also if you like more reading tips please check here or click the link in my profile.

Take Care


Created by

Teronie Donaldson

Writer | Motivator | Reading Habits Coach | Content Creator. Around Me, Everyone Wins!







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