Update March 26th 2018 – I made a more explanatory vlog about this book today!

So this book “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer is probably one of the most popular pop-sci books in all of time… It changed my life and many others on top of just being an outstanding book. You can buy it here or find it in most libraries. Here are my unedited thoughts, highlights and commentary about the book.

Well-written and funny introduction to the world of memory and competing in it. This book is what started a lot of younger people competing (including me). For an in-depth review, read my buddy Billy Gates’ post about it.

“Anyone could do it really” – Ben Pridmore says this, but does he know just how right he is?

“normal is not necessarily natural”

Remember to say this, especially when someone is justifying some shitty behavior.

If you spent that much time, you’d do very well. If you wanted to enter the world championship, you’d need to spend three to four hours a day for the final six months leading up to the championship. It gets heavy.”

Some people do put in that effort, others not, depends on your skill, style, goals and life outside of competition.

In a sense, the elaborate system of externalized memory we’ve created is a way of fending off mortality. It allows ideas to be efficiently passed across time and space, and for one idea to build on another to a degree not possible when a thought has to be passed from brain to brain in order to be sustained.

Well that’s very meta.

«  It occurred to me that this was a kind of manufactured synesthesia. »

Best way of putting it.

The secret to success in the names-and-faces event—and to remembering people’s names in the real world—is simply to turn Bakers into bakers—or Foers into fours. Or Reagans into ray guns. It’s a simple trick, but highly effective.

Hmm. No. For some people perhaps but for Katie Kermode, Jan-Hendrik Büscher and I – all three of us very naturally good at names & faces – don’t use this technique so much. Sometimes it works, other times it can be catastrophic and time-consuming. It seems our memorizing style is much harder to describe in words, but that we all have a sense of “just memorizing it”. This next quote might have something to do with it.

Experts see the world differently. They notice things that nonexperts don’t see. They home in on the information that matters most, and have an almost automatic sense of what to do with it. And most important, experts process the enormous amounts of information flowing through their senses in more sophisticated ways. They can overcome one of the brain’s most fundamental constraints: the magical number seven.

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