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"..to get a medallion from a sofa where there's a pterodactyl which pushes a shopping trolley..."
November 25, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

World Memory Champion Ben Pridmore can memorize a deck of playing cards in under 30 seconds. Sometimes he imagines elaborate, on-the-fly tales of absurdity to aid his memorization. One such story was brought to life by DJ Shadow (way previously) and a cast of thousands: Scale It Back (bonus, helpful recall of entire story at end of video)
posted by obscurator (15 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's um... awesome.
posted by ReeMonster at 2:25 PM on November 25, 2011


direct vimeo link for those that don't want to visit pitchfork: http://vimeo.com/31908447

really enjoyed that video!!!
posted by raihan_ at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2011


err. vimeo link
posted by raihan_ at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2011


Incidentally, for those who are keen to see how people do this, Joshua Foer's Moonwalking With Einstein is a good read. For each of the 52 cards, you need an vivid image with what memory champeens call a PAO: Person/Action/Object. You then look at three cards at a time and string the person of the first to the action of the second and the object of the third. Perhaps for you the five of clubs is Marilyn Monroe clutching at her blowing skirt; nine of diamonds is The Silver Surfer surfing on his surfboard, and ace of hearts is King Kong climbing the Empire State Building. So these three cards together in this order are Marilyn surfing on a horizontal ESB. Seen that way, this becomes then a question of memorizing seventeen surreal images in half a minute, which seems much more feasible.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is... damn. What was I gonna say?
posted by Splunge at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I mentioned before that as an undergrad in psych, used in masters' thesis research, I messed with the data in a series of memory trials, managing near-perfect recall of paired nonsense-item lists. This I did by associating each list's items with elements of a (real or imagined) episode of the sitcom Cheers -- which seems in line with the strategy here.

A proud moment. Until I realized the result would be tossed as an outlier. Funny thing being, day to day I have terrible memory. But who can be arsed to put that much effort into something other than one-off mischief?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:45 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"..to get a medallion from a sofa where there's a pterodactyl which pushes a shopping trolley..."

um, so apparently this is one of those mefi threads to avoid reading when one is hungover :/
posted by fetamelter at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2011


Funny thing being, day to day I have terrible memory. But who can be arsed to put that much effort into something other than one-off mischief?

Likewise. I have a brain where the gentle sound of wind chimes replaces most facts after a day or two, but still seem to carry a reputation for stunt memory feats I pulled off years ago when it was still absorbing new things. Ask me my cell phone number and I have to squint into the distance and ponder. Ask me to recite some Pushkin in Russian that I learned twenty years ago and I can hold forth for fifteen minutes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:57 PM on November 25, 2011


Durn Bronzefist: "Until I realized the result would be tossed as an outlier. Funny thing being, day to day I have terrible memory. But who can be arsed to put that much effort into something other than one-off mischief?"

Apparently journalist Josh Foer did a story on memory championships, wound up competing and writing a book on it. The story he tells is that he went out partying with friends 2 days after wining a competition and didn't simply lose his keys, he drove to dinner and took the subway home--hadn't just forgotten where his car was, but that he had one at all!
posted by pwnguin at 5:49 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I memorize a poem or two every year, and do it by chaining images in a similar way; I can remember an entire line if I can hook an image to it. Mostly I draw little icons at the end of the line. The first line of Kipling's "If" is a smiley face, the second a stick figure without a head, for instance:
If you can keep your head while all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
But after reading Moonwalking with Einstein I realized I just wasn't willing to go through what it would take to memorize something I didn't want to live with for the rest of my life, like Pinsky's "Rhyme," Carroll's "Jabberwocky," or the magnificent nonsense poem "Sweater Weather" by Sharon Bryan.

Makes a heck of a music video, though.
posted by Peach at 5:50 PM on November 25, 2011


I am fascinated by a relationship between memory and age. I am in my 60s and can remember in remarkable detail elements of my first 10 years -- phone number, address, names of classmates and teachers, route to school, family birthdays, multiplication tables, words of favourite songs etc. I now have to make an effort to remember current PINs, names of associates, address where I lived 7 years ago, what I did yesterday.... What was I saying? I wonder where and why those childhood memories remain so solid.
posted by binturong at 6:27 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder where and why those childhood memories remain so solid
I gather, from what I have read about the mechanism of memory, that those early memories are not nearly as vivid and accurate as we used to think. We have just remembered them over and over again, and in the process each time have re-imaged them completely anew and cemented these recreated (and often fairly false) memories firmly in place.

And I am in my sixties as well and still occasionally think my childhood phone number is my current one. But I also learn the names of 70+ sixth graders in less than two weeks and just as promptly forget them when they go on to seventh grade.
posted by Peach at 6:38 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


those early memories are not nearly as vivid and accurate as we used to think. We have just remembered them over and over again,

I take your point. Repetition is part of memory. (I have been an actor for 23 years and know how to memorize lines. I've been to see plays I was in many years before and as soon as they started I knew everyone's lines again!) As to re-imagined memories -- these are a core of all the false childhood memory scandals. Talk to a brother or sister about what happened when you were both kids at home and they remember differently or not at all. Of course, they also had a different role in the family dramas and were invariably more heroic and less guilty!
posted by binturong at 7:03 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like I'm thirding the shout-outs to Foer's Moonwalking With Einstein. Not only does it have crazy awesome stories of weird memory-based neurological quirks, but it also has Foer's story of learning memory skills and some intriguing gossip about Daniel Tammet (author of Born on a Blue Day), who made a name for himself as an autistic savant.
posted by redsparkler at 7:12 PM on November 25, 2011


Ah! Having a good memory... I forgot what it feels like...
posted by lucaf at 5:03 AM on November 26, 2011


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