stuff you learn is not always infinitely valuable


“Some of it, you really want to unlearn.”

Keith Richards


Not everything you learn is valuable. Ok. Maybe I should say not everything you learn is infinitely valuable. What I mean by that is that some things you learn have a finite value in terms of longevity. They are valuable in the present, but lose value either (a) over time or (b) suddenly when you learn something else. That said. The value may remain in its value as a stepping stone to new learning.

Which leads me to unlearning.

New learning, or unlearning, call it what you want, it’s the key to thinking and enlightenment progress. Generally speaking, it’s the idea that there is a time limit on some things you learn, spans everything. I have even suggested that principles can have an end date. That said. Conceptually speaking all information is dated. What I mean by that is that context new learning new information constantly bludgeons a piece of information as soon as it exists. Yet it is lazy to simply suggest that a piece of information is not useful simply because of its timestamp. Some information is simply more resilient than others. Therefore, the trick to unlearning is being able to recognize what learning should remain and what learning should be unlearned. Look. I am a learning guy. A curiosity guy. A guy who believes you can never learn too much as well as you never stop learning. I also believe learning shit is not just about accumulation. And that may actually be a bigger thought than anything else I babble about. If it isn’t about accumulating, that means you have to get rid of some stuff. Downsize as it were. Unlearn in other words. Maybe think of it the way American University does: ‘unlearning is breaking down the traditional way of thinking and teaching critical thinking methodology.’ They actually call it “a year of disorientation.” But ultimately, I would imagine I am speaking of the study of thinking (I hate to call it critical thinking). Not free thought, but simple down and dirty tearing apart the thought fabric to see how a thought is sewn or woven together. Far too often we seem to put value on accumulating knowledge. Number of degrees. Number of books read. Number of things experienced. The addition to what goes into your pea like brain. Rarely do we discuss the subtraction. The things you shed as you learn something new. The deconstruction of what we know. And maybe we should. This is not about ‘we only have so much room in our brains to store up information’ but rather ‘what I have learned has made me change my mind, my opinion, my attitude, my belief, my whatever.”

  • Truth, in Life, can be unequivocal.
  • Truth, in one’s mind, is contextual.

What I just wrote may be aggravating, if not uncomfortable, to people. I think most people like to accumulate learning as a sign of personal growth <and public acknowledgement of ‘enhancement.’

But accumulators can be blowhards.

And accumulators can be pretentious.

And accumulators can become fanatical.

And accumulators can become a menace to real learning.

“I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress.”

Daniel J. Boorstin

“The hardest decision in life is to decide what matters.”

I believe learning is addition thru subtraction. I tend to believe great learning is about, well, gaining 2 things and losing 1 thing.

Which leads me to suggest Keith Richard certainly shouldn’t be anyone’s role model for learning or accumulating knowledge.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t say something smart and insightful on occasion. Being enlightened is not only about accumulating learning. In fact, it is maybe more about unlearning shit as you learn new shit.

Shedding some guard rails and boundaries and ‘what I knows.’ Recognizing that not all things learned are created equal and that some things actually lose value as you gain other things.

Think about how what you know may actually be decreasing in its value every day.

Think about halting that decrease by simultaneously adding new learning and subtracting some old learning.

Think about constantly learning as much as you can and unlearning some things along the way.

Think about the fact learning is not just about accumulation, it is also about ‘decluttering.’


Think about the fact there are some things you really want to unlearn.


Written by Bruce