The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

By A. J. Jacobs

Half memoir and half schooling (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and doubtless most unlikely quest to learn the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.

33,000 PAGES
forty four MILLION WORDS
10 BILLION YEARS OF HISTORY
1 OBSESSED MAN

To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League schooling, A.J. Jacobs units for himself the daunting job of examining all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His spouse, Julie, tells him it is a waste of time, his associates think he's wasting his brain, and his father, a super lawyer who had as soon as tried a similar feat and give up someplace round Borneo, is encouraging yet unconvinced.

With self-deprecating wit and a disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unforeseen and comically disruptive results Operation Encyclopedia has on everything of Jacobs's lifestyles -- from his newly minted marriage to his complex courting along with his father and the remainder of his charmingly eccentric manhattan relations to his day task as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's undertaking exams the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to discover the genuine which means of intelligence as he endeavors to hitch Mensa, win a place on Jeopardy!, and take in 33,000 pages of studying. On his trip he stumbles upon many of the strangest, funniest, and such a lot profound evidence approximately each subject less than the sunlight, all whereas fighting fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing worry that attends his first real-life accountability -- the upcoming delivery of his first child.

The Know-It-All is an creative, mightily unique memoir of 1 man's mind, neuroses, and obsessions, and a fight among the all-consuming quest for authentic wisdom and the indisputable reward of hard-won knowledge.

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The dermatologists all nodded and murmured. "The horns in this bull are rather well defined," he stated. "Where? i will not see it. " I acknowledged. "There," he stated, pointing. "Those strains. " "Sorry--where, precisely? " "Don't fear approximately him," Julie stated. "He in basic terms has 800 cubic centimeters of cranial skill. " Our advisor laughed his French chuckle. "Tres bien," he acknowledged. "Tres bien. " I by no means did determine which have been the horns on that bull, yet all of the speak of humanoid evolution reminded my tiny mind of anything that has haunted me for the reason that i used to be a child. If people be capable of live on one other few thousand years, they are going to keep growing greater and bigger craniums. this means that regardless of how shrewdpermanent i'm, regardless of how a lot i do know, how a lot I learn, how a lot I take in, how a lot i believe, i'm going to nonetheless be a member of the species that could not do differential calculus of their heads. "Oh, examine the best way Homo sapiens solved Fermat's final theorem! And it took them basically 300 years. isn't really that lovable! " Which makes me query my present enterprise. no matter if i am smarter by way of the top and write an excellent publication concerning the event, i will nonetheless be doing the 21st-century similar of scrawling chicken males with erect phalluses on cave partitions. final phrases one more reason i will by no means make it into the Britannica, as well as the truth that i am not an Arctic explorer or a Swedish botanist: i will not speak like those men. i haven't got the conviction, the fervour. this is often clearest to me whilst I examine the final phrases of serious males. Like Georges Danton, a pace-setter of the French Revolution who was once beheaded for opposing the extremist faction. whilst he was once approximately to be guillotined, Danton informed the executioner, "Show my head to the folks. it really is well worth the hassle. " in place of what i'd have advised the executioner: "Holy fuck! Holy shit! " Or in an effort to get technical, "Holy merde! " Danton has lots of corporation. males like Giordano Bruno, an Italian thinker and astronomer within the past due 1500s, who went past the Copernican heliocentric view of the universe, as an alternative arguing that area contained a multiplicity of worlds just like the earth. For this, the Catholic Church gagged him and burned him on the stake. whilst the judges learn Bruno his sentence, he instructed them: "Perhaps your worry in passing judgment on me is bigger than mine in receiving it. " How can he be that cool stressed? he is simply been informed that he is going to be flambeed, and he responds with a noble, coherent, fantastic citation. back, i feel my response will be, "Listen, i used to be simply kidding approximately that multiplicity of worlds stuff. simply joking round. just one global. I take all of it again. " studying there's a brief part on IQs within the studying part. It says that top IQs "are strongly linked to the 35-yard sprint and balancing on one foot. " this is often essentially the most unusually particular items of knowledge within the encyclopedia. Why a thirty-five-yard-dash? i have by no means even heard of that. Why now not a fifty? Why balancing on one foot? What approximately tether ball? Is that strongly linked to excessive IQ?

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