Evangelizing memory techniques to your friends?

So, its quite simple really. Has anyone on these forums had successful experience 'Evangelizing or convincing someone to use memory techniques?

I’ve tried explaining these techniques and ideas to many people but mostly they show very little interest. No matter how passionate or expressive I am they mostly thought it was lot of unnecessary. One day I was talking with a friend, who explained a piece of software he was using to keep track of his many passwords for different websites. When I told him I wasn’t willing to trust the software to store my passwords for me, in case it was compromised or that my computer was damaged, he thought I was crazy when I mentioned storing my passwords in a memory palace, or that I was making some type of joke.

I think of how improving your memory can change your life. How it gives you better structure and motivation to learn more, knowing that you will not forgot what you learn. I think of how it can enrich your life, by enabling you to draw on your experiences, your memories and your interactions with people and use them in a more meaningful way. I think of how you can overcome the obstacles of natural memory and remember trivial information, which removes your reliance upon external memory aids.

But naturally, many people I spoke to did not share my enthusiasm. They feel is too much effort and the technology we used can cover most of the gaps in our memory, or despite my explanations, they feel that anyone able to remember a deck of cards must be some type of savant, despite explaining that there are simple techniques that can be learnt do this.

So, have other people been more successful?

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Haven’t had much success, but I also don’t try too hard at convincing others. I bring it up casually, and if they’re interested I explain to them more. If they aren’t interested, I don’t bring it up unless I truly need to.

I’m sure you have friends who are excited about different things and keep trying to convince you to try them, whether it’s weightlifting, drugs, cooking, archery, rubiks cubes, or whatever. It’s not that interesting to an outsider, even if they all can be interesting once you get into them.

The ones that I did ‘evangelize’(not really, I brought it up casually and they were interested) were the ‘magician/rubiks cube/puzzle solver’ types.


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These days the phrase “the Memory Palace like in Sherlock” seems to work wonders.
There’s also the Mentalist show that demonstrates the MP method a couple of times, for those who’ve seen it.

Sometimes, certain ideas or theories have existed for a long time without any mainstream following, but once they are referenced by a celebrity or packaged in the right way they get popularized very easily, especially with Sherlock Holmes.

It’s understandable really, everyone has things their are passionate about but its not easy to get people to share the same the passion with you, but we can always try.

Absolutely true in general and also my recent experience. I was talking to a young lady, describing the ideas, the possibilities, the advantages for her studies and was getting a mild interest. And then I said “remember in season 3 of Sherlock…” and she said “yeah, I remember… what? You mean like that Memory Palace? Wow, really” and I could just hear the enthusiasm growing tenfold.

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People seem to follow along until you start talking about gothic flamingos and Bono dancing ballet. At that point they question whether mnemonics’ contributions to intelligence are worth the internal loss of dignity.

Instead of telling them, try showing them. There’s a good example here:

I remember being in the pub with my friends soon after I read those Tony Buzan books. I began memorising the wine/drinks list of around 40 drinks while we were all sitting around a table - I still remember how amazing it was to suddenly have a memory I would've thought was superhuman just a week before. After a few minutes, I told them the drinks list (in order). My friends were dumbstruck. Then I said it backwards (which was just as easy) and their reactions were priceless.

As soon as you do something like that, people will ask a lot of questions. :slight_smile:


What an interesting topic! I have only had success evangelizing one person – my son. He is 15 years old and in high school. So, I am absolutely ecstatic that he has been receptive and has embraced the techniques. Plus, we have had such fun memorizing material for his tests and have had uproarious laughter creating our bizarre associations. However, unfortunately, I have also had the opposite experience with essentially all of the other individuals with whom I have attempted to evangelize. In medical school, I dated a fellow student in my class. She struggled with the academic areas of our curriculum. I spent a great amount of time studying with her and working with her and tried to teach her how to use imagery. She ultimately gave up which was very sad for me and unfortunate for her. After having worked with these techniques for many years, I have to wonder if there are only a select group of us who seem to be able to overcome the barriers to employing the more powerful of these techniques (visualization). Some of the brightest people I know, when I tell them about how I memorize, just are dismissive and say something like, “sounds like too much trouble.” Anecdotally, with these individuals, despite much time and effort, this barrier seems impervious. The fact that my son has been receptive also makes me wonder if there is something genetic about it.

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What an interesting question!

I am finding people want to listen when I demonstrate a useful outcome. For example, I have memorised all 408 birds in my state in taxonomic order, with all family names, and can therefore go in the field and use a process of elimination when identifying a bird. I am a walking field guide. Others have to go from what they know, but can’t be sure there isn’t another very similar bird that they haven’t considered.

I am speaking at the field naturalists club next Friday about this technique and how it relates to the way indigenous cultures carry a field guide in memory. I will be teaching the audience to memorise one family of birds using a memory palace. It’s going to be interesting to see if anyone else takes it up. The usual thing I get asked to do is name all the honeyeaters - they’re our biggest bird group. We have 36 in the state. Even the most advanced birders struggle to name them all from memory simply because they don’t have a structure. When I am out birding with my husband, who is an experience birder, he’ll often ask me to list all the possibilities of some small brown bird we see. He uses me as the field guide, but doesn’t want to do it himself.

I also have the 242 countries of the world in a journey in population order. Something will happen on the news and my husband will ask me the size of the country or location. He also asks when events happened or some famous person fits in time from my history palace. But he has no interest in trying it himself.

Is there something in the personalities of people like us who want to do this? I have a very poor natural memory. Is that a trigger? Or do others here have a strong natural memory?

Is there something in the personalities of people like us who want to do this? I have a very poor natural memory. Is that a trigger? Or do others here have a strong natural memory?

For myself I always envied those who were intelligent. That, and I am at a job where I have a disadvantage because of my age and experience though I’ve still managed to do well. To me learning how to memorize is a matter of increasing efficiency in learning in general. Also, I just love to know things. So it is personality combined with an affinity to do things that are clear out of the box.

“Men, till a thing be done, wonder that it can be done; and as soon as it is done, wonder again that it was no sooner done.” - Bacon

I have found that evangelizing anything, even when you provide accurate sources, and impeccable references is a losing battle almost 100% of the time.

It doesn’t seem to matter that with just a little verification effort, everything you say can be independently confirmed…especially in this internet & e-book age.

I too have had to just quietly take my benefits from learning & adopting a memory strategy, & keep on walking.
Few who have done well in either school, university, or exams without mnemonics seem to care. Although they are not the only ones who fail to display an interest.

Lynne, I don’t think it’s personality.

Instead, I guess those of us who have had at least one “almost didn’t make it” survivable experience (at any age) that has pointed out that you need to be prepared or be prepared to be really uncomfortable …because you didn’t pay attention is the common thread amongst those who pursue memory strategies.

Perhaps everyone here will not agree, however I wonder how many of you would admit to being more confident & less stressed since attaining some skill with your chosen memory strategy?

That’s your survivor’s instinct right there.

Deep down inside, it’s also probably why we also keep practicing & trying to keep our skill-set sharp.
To ensure that whatever happens to those left & right of us, we can improve both our chances of survival & making realistic quality of life improvements that are under our control.

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Interesting approach. I can’t think of a survival issue, Simply Guy, although my failure is in terms of extreme embarrassment at not knowing stuff, especially history and geography, that others seem to just know naturally. I stuck to mathematics and physics in the early years because I could do well at them without a good memory. Not sure if that’s even close to what you are suggesting.

I must admit to much greater confidence in many conversations now that I have a basic idea of history and geography and the famous people I am adding to the system.

Capriccio - depends on your definition of intelligence. I was considered intelligent because I did well at maths (Aussie’s use the ‘s’) at school. I considered others intelligent because they knew so many facts which had just passed me by. My husband could identify birds and even though I went out birding with him, I simply forgot them so next time I couldn’t identify even the most common birds. Made me feel really stupid when I was out with birders. I committed all 408 possible birds for our state to memory and the identification now has a hook. Now I can join in birding chatter.

Interesting that you see this as a survival instinct, Simple Guy. Lots to think about!

Its been a while since I wrote anything in this forum, but your recent dicussion an evangelizing folks to try the memory techniques sparked my interest. I also have had very little success in trying to to get folks to use the memory techniques that you share on this wonderful site. I especially like the responses of Batemen, he is always clear, concise, and very helpful. People I share the memory techniques with either do not take the time to implement them, tell me that they could not use them because they are only for people like me that have a strong visual memory, or they just think it is plain impossible for them to use. I am an American that works in France, so my experience has been only in sharing the memory techniques with Americans and French people. I usaully use Tony Buzan’s book that is printed here in France to introduce the techniques to French people. The Americans I work with think of me as somewhat of a nerd since one of my hobbies is computers. But when they need something fixed on their machine, they call me, and I can usually fix their problem. I think, at least, from my own experience in observing Americans in general is that they do not like technical details on how to do things, they just want them fixed. Amcrican culture is a “do it” cultrue. As far as my experience with the French, the French have a high regard for intellectual pursuits, but the memory training for them is too much work. They would rather sit and read a book by some French philosopher or dramatic writer than train their brain, unless they have to pass an exam such as the baccalaureate to get into college. For students maybe I could get them to use the memory techniques, but I think for most French people, the memory training is too much of a reminder of all the work they had in school since study is so much a part of the French educational system. What I find particulary hard with both French and American people, is how fun and imaginaive it is too learn memory techniques. I am currently using it to memorize the Bible, phone numbers, presidents, languages, and computer languages.


Yep, I agree with Bateman. People are either interested or not. You can’t convert the unwilling. Waste of time. My husband is finally on this board but he’s on the line. It takes work on our part. Some people are just too lazy to even try. I don’t know if it’s depression meds (a few of them) or what but I couldn’t remember even 5 things in a row. Once I applied these techniques I was amazed. Of course now I’ve remembered many more things but it was that one defining moment that made all the difference in the world. I just don’t know how to express that excitement to other people.

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Yes!! Me too!! Just how can I convince people that imagination is this cool place where you can put all sorts of huge amounts (sensational-emotional-meaningful) stuff and enjoy it? You know it’s like, if everyone knew how to memorize stuff, I feel the world would be a different place. The memory palace is a tremendous discovery of mental capability. I am absolutely amazed that we have this ability which is actually ridiculously simple and you can get started right away!

I always tell people it’s easy, but like, I feel like they don’t even need to memorize anything or think it’s too much trouble. How if they didn’t even try it! For me, it’s like, a life changer. It is a breakthrough tool for self-improvement and staying mentally alive.