Tony Buzan is the “memory guru.” He has written several books and travels the globe, making tons of money, preaching his idea of a memory revolution. He believes that memorizing is gone about all wrong in Western education, and believes his methods of memorizing will change the world. Many of the competitors don’t like Buzan because he makes so much money with his idea but hasn’t really changed anything. They also don’t believe his “the brain is a muscle” stuff. Buzan was the first to suggest Foer try to do the competition. He also talks about how he wanted to main a manual about operating your own brain, but Foer says that that sitll hasn’t happened. Buzan also claims that Mind Mapping is revolutionary and the ultimate mind power tool but Foer disagrees.
Curve of Forgetting
As soon as we learn something, our memory will gradually start to forget it in the curve of forgetting. After only twenty minutes we only retain about 60% of what we learn, and over the next few months and years you gradually totally forget them. This was discovered by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. The scientist who studied S found that S did not follow the normal patterns of forgetting.
Working memory is the memory we have when we try to remember things. This goes with the chicken sexers who can identify a chicken’s sex just by looking at it because they have practiced so much. It also goes with how chess players will find it easy to memorize a chess play, but find it hard to memorize a soccer play if they have never played the sport before. Our working memories filters through all the information we see and only pulls out the important bits to put into our long-term memory.
Techniques to Recall Faces
For each face, you must take an anchor that will help you bring back the name when you see the face. You take their name and make it into an image, like Ed turned Foer into Four.
People find it easier to remember that a person is a baker than his name is Baker, because you can associate all different senses with bakers. To memorize names, you must take each name and turn it from Baker to a baker.
The Issue with Seven
A Harvard psychologist named George Miller discovered that when we learn something, it doesn’t go into long term memory immediately. Instead, it goes into a temporary limbo, or our working memory. The problem is our working memory can only hold seven (plus or minus two) things at a time. If you want to cram for a test, your brain will only remember seven of the items you want it to.
We are limited with our short-term memory because of the issue with seven. A way to overcome this, however, is to use chunking. If you want to memorize these letters- HEADSHOULDERKNEESANDTOES it would be much easier to remember by chunking it into HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES. The more information you can chunk into one blob, the more things you can hold in your short-term memory.
Elaborate encoding is taking information and making it memorable by making it so different, colorful, and exciting that it’s impossible to forget. For instance, to remember the wine bottles on Ed’s to-do list, he made them animated and distorted and had Mr. Chardonnay fighting with Ms. Sauvignon Blanc.
Simonide’s Memory Palace
Simonides remembered where all of the guests at the banquet sat after it collapsed and he wanted to help people find their loved ones. He also memorizes things into a series of engrossing visual images that are strewn along an imagined space.
Method acting is feeling how the writer feels when you recite his lines. Instead of trying to remember every word, you remember the feelings of the words and go from there. (To remember “pick up a pen” you should actually pick up a pen to remember it).
The History of Books
Books used to be written not so that you didn’t have to remember things, but instead to aid memorization. They used to be written in all caps and without punctuation, and along one long scroll. Instead of reading to yourself, you had to read it out loud because you weren’t saying words so much as sounds. Over time, writing got punctuation and spacing and got put into books, where it was easier to flip to ideas. With the book eventually came page numbers and chapters.
The Importance of a Space in a Text
Words in an enending stream of capitol letters without punctuation was called scriptio continua. It proved hard to find places in the text because you had to read the whole thing first. THEREWERENTWORDSBUTSOUNDSANDYOUHADTOSAYTHESOUNDSOUTLOUDTOHEARTHEWORDS
This was ineffective because you can read things differently, like historian Jocelyn Penny Small said. GODISNOWHERE can be read as GOD IS NOW HERE or GOD IS NOWHERE
Books were invented to replace scrolls because with scrolls you had to unfurl the whole thing to find a passage, and even then it wasn’t likely you’d find it without reading the whole thing.
An old man who works at Microsoft names Gordon Bell decided to externalize every memory he ever has. He has a video camera to record everything he sees and hears, his phone calls are recorded, and his computer work is saved. If he ever wants to find a memory, and searches it in his life database. He finds this way of remembering tremendously freeing.
The Online Worldwide Brain Club
This is the online forum for memory unkies, Rubik’s cubers, and mathletes. On the forum people discuss new memory techniques, such as the PAO (person-action-object) system. Every number from 0-99 is attached a person, action and object. When you pair three numbers together, the first number is the person doing the action of the second number to the object of the third.
The OK Plateau
People tend to practice things until they are OK with the level they’ve reached, and that’s the OK plateau. We used to think that there were certain levels that nobody could pass, such as the four minute mile, but deliberate practice makes it possible to surpass any achievement. Mental blocks are the only things that keep you from setting a higher standard.
Deliberate practice is setting goals and practicing on the things you have most trouble with, rather than practicing the things you are most comfortable with. The only thing that kept humans from passing the four minute mile was a mental block, but then we surpassed it.
Mind maps is drawing and connecting images off of one main topic to study. Research at the University of London shows that it’s easier for students to remember factual knowledge with Mind Mapping. Foer thinks that Mind Mapping is useful to outline main ideas and organize information, but it isn’t as revolutionary as Buzan makes it out to be.
Knowledge Required to Gain Knowledge
This connects to the chicken sexers. Chicken sexers have to be doing their work for a long time to be good at it and have to see lots of chickens before they can be positive what the sex of a chicken is. Also a chess player will find it easier to memorize a chess play than a soccer play, and vice versa for a soccer player. Sometimes to memorize things you have to have prior knowledge. The problem is though, you can get better over time at learning things only if you recognize your mistakes.
a technique to memorize by connecting one piece of information to a more memorable piece
knowledge acquired by study and research
of his, her, or its own kind
private, secret, confidential
thin like a string
able to be laughed at, causing laughter
the little voice we hear in our heads when we talk to ourselves, acts as on echo in our short-term memory that stores sounds for a couple seconds
someone who studies the relationship between time and living organisms
like the shell of a human
people who study the ethics of testing biological and medical procedures
taken out of context so that you nlearn without understanding
in three groups: “Splinter skill”: memorized one single esoteric body of trivia
“Talented savants”: more general area of expertise which is remarkable because of their disability
“Prodigious savants”: abilites spectacular by any standard
“Everybody has a great memory for something”
Basically any field you go into, a paper has been written about how people in that field have extraordinary memories. This is because if you enjoy a field and become an expert at it, you will develop a great memory for things in that field. If you are a musician, you will probably memorize scores of music easier than a soccer player would, but a soccer player would memorize soccer plays better than a musician would.
“Attention, of course, is a prerequisite to remembering”
If you want to memorize a name, for instance, it has to be someone who you think is worth remembering. If your mind doesn’t think it’s important to remember, then it won’t pay attention and learn it.
“Memory is like a spiderweb that catches new information. The more it catches, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it grows, the more it catches.”
The more you know, the easier it is to know more.
“These skills would have been a godsend in high school. But life, for better or worse, only occasionally resembles high school.”
It can be useful to memorize facts, but usually its only useful for things like memorizing facts for a test. In real life, you generally aren’t required to memorize things but you are expected to understand things.
Mnemonic systems like Simonides’ memory palace profoundly shaped the way people approached the world from the time of antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. And then they all but disappeared.
The memory palace used to be commonly known. People didn’t really write things down so they memorized them. The art of memorization was very commonly known and used daily. When books were created and accessible, people had the option to externalize what they previously had to memorize. This made the art of memorization almost unknown, especially because not much was written about memorization; it was memorized.
“The contest unfolded with all of the excitement of, say, the SAT.”
Foer is talking about the memory championship. He says this because memorizing is entirely in your head, there is nothing to watch except people staring at a piece of paper.