Moonwalking with Einstein

By: Joshua Foer - Read: June 19, 2021 - Rating: 7/10

About how to hack your memory, and the world of memory competitions.

You learn the strategy that all professional memory competitors use to memorize long lists, called "the memory palace." The method uses a hack in how your brain prioritizes spatial information and is surprisingly effective.

I've been placing items in my mind-palace, to increase my recall. However, memory is not just about recall, it's about recognition too.

There are three kinds of memory: recognition, recall and recollection. Recall is the one that is most ‘prized’ – particularly by the Tony Buzan’s of the world. Being able to recall pi to 300 decimal places might seem a remarkable thing to some minds. Recall is hard, and is often the only type of memory we bother ‘testing’ – but really, it is hard because it isn’t something that we humans actually need all that often.

We are infinitely better at recognition. We may not remember names, but by god we remember faces and what those faces have meant to us. Names are a recall task – faces a recognition task. There is a lovely experiment where people are shown a thousand photographs and asked to remember as many as they can. Generally, people are only able to remember about 2% - our recall is a very weak type of memory. But if you add another thousand photos and show them to the people again and ask which photos they have seen before then you get about 98% right, our recognition ability is almost infallible.. The point being, that if you want to remember something then you need to link it to your recognition memory, and not rely on your recall memory. The memory palaces and techniques described in this book rely on this fact and virtually this fact alone.