That’s all he rote: one journalist’s adventure in memorization

Apr 14, 2011

What are all the prime numbers under 10,000? Can you recite Hamlet’s soliloquies verbatim? If asked to memorize the order of a deck of cards in one hour, could you do it? While such requests might seem patently absurd, they are fully within the realm of possibility for the average human being’s brain. In Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Joshua Foer foregoes the current trend of relying on smartphones and the internet to keep track of information. Instead he focuses on the forgotten art of memorizing and remembering using classic approaches such as visual imagery and mnemonic devices. At first, Foer takes a strictly scientific, journalistic approach to the topic by interviewing various “memory champions”, before deciding to try his hand, or rather his brain, at the seemingly impossible endeavor. What did Foer learn about how the human mind works? How did an average journo become the 2006 U.S. Memory Champion? And will any of this help us remember where we left our keys?

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