Mnemonics... useless.. methivier... you are wrong

forgive me if i was rude, wasn’t my intention… thanks for the reply

1 Like

The past year I have been where you seem to be, asking myself “will I be able to do it?”

In the end, most of the times the answer appeared to be yes, though only after I spend time into trying it and fitting it a bit to my need through trial and error. There is no useless method and there is no wrong method. There are different methods that can be more or less fit to you personal and there are people who say they can’t do things before even trying.

Let me first break one myth, mnemonics is no magic pill. It is no god-like method. It is no mental NZT-48 (if you watched ‘Limitless’). If you want it to work, you have to make it work. There are things that work and things that don’t work, but it all requires you to put effort in the preparations and it all requires you to actually do it and see how it works.

That being said, there is a difference in learning a language and using a language. The systems are for learning a language. to use a language you still require some practice. In a conversation you don’t have time to search for every word you need. Languages might differ in this slightly, but on average people speak around 2, sometimes 3 words per second in a casual conversation. Try using a memory palace to translate that back and forth… not gonna be pretty. Basically, all the system does to my experience, is give you a mental dictionary. It can always happen that you don’t remember a word, the memory palace is very handy then. And once you’ve gotten a bit used to the images in your palace, you can also find them very easily, but most of the language should be used without the palace.

As I always say, it is fine to disagree. But also be able to point out what should be changed and how to make it better. It is incredibly easy to not try (or try once or twice) and just shout that it doesn’t work while expecting others to come to your bidding with a better method. Mnemonics doesn’t work like that. You grab a system, you go out trying, you tweak it to your needs, you try more, you decide to stay with it or attempt another system. Should you try another, go back to step one. Should you stay with the same, tweak it more and try it more until you are satisfied. In the end, what you end up with is your own system that uses an existing system as a base.

It is fine to disagree, be my guest. You are entitled to your opinion. But if everything we use isn’t to your liking, don’t expect us to give you something magical. The systems we use are better than nothing, and we have yet to find anything better than what we have, which is why we use what we use. If there were better things, we’d use those, wouldn’t we?


I think that you misunderstood me… I use mnemonics, i love memory game (like memorizing deck of cards, historical dates etc…) and I know for sure that it’s very different from learning a language of course. In the end if i want to memorize i dunno the discovery of the america by colombo it’s something that i can have in a memory palace… it is normal if to recall that information i spend 10 seconds searching in my mind… not the same if i’m speaking and i want to know how can i say meat…i don’t have 10 seconds x word… What I want to know it’s simply this…I spend 2 month learning 6000 words in japanese for example (100 x day) with mnemonics then i start to read, listen and when i will be used to it i will start to use my passive vocabulary in an active way…or it’s better to sit down take unit 1, with 15-20 words and learn this words then listen read write with the exercise that i will find in that unit then go to unit 2… (always keep in mind that if i want to follow the Methivier method i cannot do this way because he prefer to memorize using alphabet so in this way i will have 20 random words then another 20 then another 20 few days later all this words not in alphabetical order, maybe more like thematic list)

1 Like

You seem to be thinking of memory palaces as some sort of hard drive stored in your mind. That how you use them is when you need a word you set your mind on scan and wait for it to run through a few dozen categorized words to find the one you want.

I am not an authority on Metivier because I have just started using his system but generally there is no searching for a word when you need it. The whole point of it is to have previously searched systematically with a procedure that lays it into your memory better than processes like spaced repetition (think Anki with type to answer format) or Duolingo.

In German, nouns are gendered, so for English speakers it is often difficult to remember the correct gender. Since articles are gendered as well, the best method is to remember the appropriate article and its gender when learning the noun. Still, it can be a trial.

Where I live there are hundreds of small, uninhabited islands most of which present a sheer cliff face to the water. That means they are dangerous to navigate around when visibility is limited. Even in good conditions it is advisable to avoid getting too close to them if it isn’t your destination. Basically, be wary of them.

In German, island is a feminine word. This runs counter to how I see islands because of my personal experience. The word for island in German is Insel. It is feminine. The feminine form of the is die. So it is -die Insel.- How to remember the gender isn’t what it seems like it should be (for me) using a memory palace?

First I create a palace location. Second I create an association that has meaning for me. When I was nine, some friends and myself rowed out about a mile to one of these deserted islands that actually had a thirty foot beach to land on. My friends climbed up the rocks to explore the island. I said I wanted to cool off in the extremely, cold water and would catch up to them. After a couple of minutes of swimming I realized that I was in a current that was sweeping me away from the island. If I was swept very much farther, out past the last point of land, it was obvious I would not survive in the cold water that far away from any other land. That is the first part of the image.

The second part is a film clip of the results of a long term influx of deer into a small town not too far away from where I live. The deer had become territorial and were threatening people and pets. The news showed a male deer on the sidewalk in front of a house using his antlers to pin a border collie dog to the ground. The dog looked exactly like my childhood pet dog that was killed in front of our house by a car. It was clear from the dogs yelping and signs of discomfort, he was pinned and very uncomfortable but not being gored to death, it was a strong image but not unbearably so.

So how to get the images to reflect the connection of the feminine article die to the sound of the noun Insel at the same time as conveying the meaning of the word. Simple. I already use the image of a deer to represent the feminine article die (the) There I am desperately swimming toward the beach to save my life and while struggling to reach it, I see my childhood pet pinned by a deer covered in tinsel. Deer (die), covered in tinsel (Insel), scene on a specific beach (island). Die Insel = island

Believe me when I tell you I don’t have to scan my memory to remember if Insel is feminine. If I stop dealing with German tomorrow and ten years from someone asks me what the gender of the German for island is, I will instantly remember the deer pinning down my dog on the make it or die beach, and that makes it feminine.

It took me about thirty seconds to work up an image that carries the sound, gender and meaning of the German word for island and I don’t have to search for it when I need it. It took about ten seconds to properly locate it in a memory palace so I can keep it available for use in my instantly available memory.

Now the question you might ask is if it is so powerful why bother with the location in the memory palace? The location is necessary because the two images are powerful especially when connected. But I added the tinsel image to reproduce the sound of Insel. And that is not powerful. I might forget that detail. So I put the whole works in a special location and every once in while run through all the locations to refresh the important but not so evocative details of any particular image association.

I also put them in an excel file so if I do lose an important detail because of leaving it too long or the image is too weak I have it on file somewhere. If the image is too weak, then I improve it.

If you have to search for a word very often when you need them, then your images aren’t strong enough or you aren’t reviewing them enough.


Mnemonics are absolutely useless. I found Joshua Foer to be obnoxious. Fine if the system works for you that’s great, but don’t start knocking off other people and especially start a crusade against people like Daniel Tammet and elseperson.

Here is thing. With rote memorization and natural memory techniques, yo can learn 100 digits of pi in a matter of days and spit out in less than 20 seconds. Just watch some YouTube videos where kids (and adults!) can perform this feat.

But if you use something as cumbersome and clunky as converting numbers to images, then when recalling converting back the images to numbers, it is a massive overkill. It’s like adding legs to a snake or beard to an eunuch. It is nothing but a crutch and artificial technique, and just like in real life if you a healthy, normal person uses crutch it doesn’t help him but hinder him.

Last thing I want is people stammer and yammer their way through 100 digits of pi. That’s not impressive. That’s lame, geenky and awkward. It’s how you present yourself.

As far as using this technique to memorize 10,000 digits of pi, well other than self-congratulatory useless world of Memory Olympics or Guinness Book, these are absolutely worthless in real life.

You wanna memorize Moby Dick, Bible or Britannica? Guess what, you gotta do the whole damn thing yourself. I am guessing Britannica probably has 44 million words. So are you frikkin suggesting me to create 44 million “pegs”. This is such a massive overkill.

Why not cut through the bs and just memorize right from the get go? Thousands of actors memorize Hamlet via rote memorize with perfect godly delivery instead of stammering and yammering their way through where it is OBVIOUS they are tryna convert images to numbers etc or abstract ideas to images. That is so time consuming. It’s almost creating a solution for a problem that does not exist and justifying that is the only way and all other way is wrong.

Say, I have to memorize a 500 page book verbatim. What’s the point of encoding the page numbers to digits? I mean if I have to memorize by rote all these pages doesn’t it make sense that I will eventually ‘soak up’ those page numbers via familiarization.

Do you “encode” your mother’s image or other people in some stupid ludicrous, wheelchair like artificial mnemonics? No! By familiarization you absorb them and eventually it gets transported to long term memory.

What people forget is short term memory of mnemonics eventually disappear as well and needs to be transported to long term memory? Yeah unlike dumb Guinness Book accolades, try to blitz 10,000 digits of pi like Benedict Cumberbatch, then I’d be impressed. That is REAL memory skill. Not something littered with “uh…ohh… ummm…let me think… let me convert the images to numbers to pegs…etc” Ho hum. Boooooooring.

And guess what rote memorization also gets transported to long term. In fact that is more of a muscle memory and reliable. Although rote memorization have drawbacks.

So tell me. Please, DEAR GOD, DO tell me what is the purpose of all these clunky, cumbersome system if you can’t use it to memorize the stuffs you REALLY LOVE such as Bible, Moby Dick in entirety, encyclopedia.

With enough familiarization and brainpower (unless you are a moron) you can pretty much ‘pick up’ any shopping list. If you need to use pegs and mnemonics, that just shows you have a poor natural memory. Maybe you need to work on that. It’s an absolutely overkill to spend 10 minutes in dumb pegs to convert a shopping list which you can easily commit to memory via chunking or rote in under seconds.

Mnemonics and artificial memory is massively overrated and there are people out there making thousands and thousands of dough profiting of this sleazeball technique. It is nothing new. It existed since millennia and were privy to library books. People like Trudeau (not the Canadian president) brought it onto forefront and some “memory experts” are acting it is revelation or something.

And no WIRED magazine. Joshua Foer cannot “memorize everything”. It will take him 10,000 lifetime to spit Britannica verbatim. So what exactly is the damn point tell me?

I usually wouldn’t have commented. But I felt the need to interject given how massively hyped up and overrated this technique is and people are going gaga over it. And the nerve to knock down on others literally makes my blood boil.

Mnemonics won’t help you memorize s*** tonna things. Yet the irony, only reason people would want to memorize those things such as contents of books, Bible, scripts, plays, and even diagrams such as blueprint is because they are essential yet mnemonics fail exactly where it is needed. All these stupid mnemonic only ‘works’ if the data is neatly arranged and packed like database such as postal addresses or rows and rows of lists. But those can easily be memorized by eyeballing them in rote.

In real life nothing is ‘so neatly arranged’. Look around you. Look around your room. Are things arranged neatly in order for you to just put them in pegs?

Also people forget you cannot use the same memory palace for different facts as there would be conflict. So tell me… DO TELL ME what good is it if you need 10,000 memory palaces to memorize 10,000 books. It’s like you are moving your hand roundabout your head to reach your mouth instead of going straight to feed you. So circuitous.

If you need 10,000 pegs to memorize 10,000 items then you seem to forget that first you need to memorize 10,000 pegs. Duh. And you can’t even recycle them. So useless, overkill and circuitous and people like sheep are acting it is revelation from God.

I am done ranting here. Thanks for listening.


It’s okay to have different opinions, but let’s keep the tone here calm and respectful. :slight_smile:

Most of your points have been discussed in other threads.


The media tend to sensationalize things. I wouldn’t take their headlines too seriously — they are writing for clicks.

Memorizing #verbatim-text is different from memorizing lists.

You might want to read about experiences people have had with applying memory techniques:

There are many more examples if you search through the forum.

Edit 2:

There is nothing wrong with being geeky and awkward. Those are my kind of people. :slight_smile:

There are people here who have memorized tens of thousands of digits of pi, not just 100. It might not be your thing, but it’s still interesting and impressive. I’d rather watch a memory competition than people running around a field with a ball. :slight_smile:

  1. Deck of cards in 13 seconds.
  2. Dynamic peg generation is how random words works. (Don’t need 1000 pegs premade) and you do get faster.
  3. Without practice you may spend many hours even making a memory palace. With practice you may as well spent 2 seconds to generate 20 locations.
  4. Flash anzan 15 sets of 3 digit additions in 1.66 seconds highlights the potential for a visual system speed wise.
  5. Whatever is overkill, also is a automated and simple process once you have mastered it.
  6. The fault is not in the technique but rather its use and mastery if someone is stammering and yammering through digits.
  7. Again you don’t need a peg per word, you can make dynamic pegs which help you memorize concepts and you can review this more frequently which will help you keep the verbatim even without any additional techniques. This reviewing would of course be less frequent than had you employed rote alone.
  8. You can forget about the images after you have memorized the content. The purpose of doing it this way as oppose to rote directly, is that it is actually faster with that intermediate. Time piles up when there is a lot more information.
  9. Time consuming is again a lack of mastery.

There is no point of encoding numbers to digits for this purpose really. If you meant encoding numbers to images that is as you have expected to remember the page. It makes sense that you will eventually soak up those page numbers via familiarisation and you do this with mnemonics too but this is an insurance for the limited time you are spending on it. When you say 500page book verbatim I am thinking of a day or 3 not 250. There is little familiarisation but mnemonics also speeds this up.

  1. Yes rote or not is going to become a long term memory at some point.
  2. Yes an efficient route to that memory is better. If you have to see a coffee cup poured onto the floor everytime you need to remember a certain definition then even if you can do this within 0.05 seconds which is feasible, you have some wasteful information present.

I don’t know them I’m sorry , I am very oblivious to celebrities. None the less I believe you mean state numbers as fast as possible. This is feasible in 3 different directions.

  1. You have this image linked to the sound so you don’t need to do any converting.
  2. You let this process occur much faster than the delay of the utterance per digit.
  3. You simply remember it with images then forget about using images to recall it and recall it normally.(again this is surprisingly faster than rote)

People are not immensely skilled with using mnemonics still, this is not mnemonics at fault.

If you are going by that, then I will state that directly cued memory is even more reliable than simple rote variants.

The purpose of these systems is precisely to memorize stuff you really want to. Most people are doing this, or otherwise enploying an unrelated system e.g handling digits, to get better at doing this.

  1. Mnemonics can be less time consuming.

  2. It’s still underrated except perhaps on this forum.

  3. Don’t listen to WIRED, don’t take personal what media says.

  4. Nerve to knock down on others???

  5. Mnemonics do not actually need organised data, that is simply the result of competitions requiring such data. A competition based public view that isn’t the full idea.

  6. Making memory palaces is fun and quick. You can totally make 200 locations in a brief sitting or burst through a bunch in seconds.

  7. Yes it is roundabout but the idea is that

Just like the brain, so a roundabout way may work better for it, especially since information isn’t 1:1 to brain/memory structure.

You can totally replace this with anything and it will be more or less the same. We live in a system, using systems, provided by existing data, even existing language. When you don’t employ mnemonics you employ non-mnemonics like sheep acting as if this is a revelation from God. There are far more sheeps on that side and if you are not one then using your own head to think and choose sets you aside from that.

That said this is a memory forum with a high bias towards mnemonics. If you propose rote methods that exhibit their own benefits, then you will be able to influence a wider range of people. Rote memory is still memory afterall, it’s a question of benefits either way.


Man,you are so angry! :slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue:


In the words of one of the greatest philosphers in the history of mankind:
“That’s Just Like, Your Opinion, Man” - The Big Lebowski

I agree there. Lets not start crusades. It is the 21st century, and the online world already went back to ancient egyptian traditions like writing on walls and worshipping cats. Lets not add crusades to the mix.

I can also cut down a tree with a butter knife. :slight_smile: I could also make an axe to do it faster, but why would I do that bit of preparation? I already got my knife.

I’d say that memorizing pi is overkill. And overkill problems need overkill solutions. Just look, don’t leave, look.

Tadaa! One million digits at the click of a button. Who needs memory? But don’t tell anyone that, it would make us pi-memorizers lose our jobs as mathmatical aids.

Why are lizards overkill?

Well… I dont want to kill your buzz… but my Star Wars shirts, Funko-Pop collection and Basic mastery of Klingon already does that. Heck, when I got to pick a wall decoration for my office, I went with Captain America’s shield. People know I am lame, geeky and awkward before they even know me.

Mark my words. One day we will get an invasion of mathletes, and pi-memorizers will protect the earth.

You are hammering a lot on purpose of memorizing verbatim. The purpose is having information available in a mental “book” anywhere and anytime. Most of us never do it, I for one have maybe one or two things really verbatim, and with the number of items I have memorized, one or two is nothing.

Sure there are subjects where verbatim is important. And yes, rote learning is a good way to do that if you have to be able to replicate it verbally. But that is also not what the method of loci is. It is like a book in your head, which you can use to review knowledge that you put into it. You dont know it, you memorized it.

I would appreciate it if you would not call me names :slight_smile:

Oh, definitly! Every normal human being can memorize a deck of cards and my grocery lists in under a minute, so to boost my self esteem, I am just compensating by using special methods :smiley:

Do you know why people use grocery lists? To not forget anything. A list allows you to run down it and mark what you’ve got. I would like to see you do that perfectly with just memory while shopping for a family of six. :slight_smile:

Dont blame that on us :confused: and to be fair, people pay for psychic readings too… So if we are going to generalize all consumers and everything on the consumers market based on what one individual thinks, can we take a glance at those too?

We’re not them, they’re not us. Unless you argue that we are all part of one big universe and you cant see things separately. In which case we are very much them.

Does that mean you are also bashing olympic runners for doing what they do while you can just as easily take the bus?

Damn runners and their running courses…

You should definitly see my kitchen cabinets.

Back to memory. You seem to have a wrong idea of how we do stuff. You dont organize information to put it in a mnemonic, you organize it BY putting it in a mnemonic. Because the pegs and palaces are organized, which makes them easy to remember.

Why? I can use every palace at least 25 times :confused: you underestimate my power!

You’re right there. I never threw such a revelation into the world… Memory is only a revelation in one of the earlier universes. Silly mortals… I mean… What?




Brother, I get the feeling that there is a lot of anger and frustration.
I am relatively new to this, so my own experience aren’t that great but I’m sure that people with practice only need 1-9 seconds for something that easy like a shopping list.
My first try with memorizing items with different amounts was great: 15 items with each a different amount between 1-100 under 1 minute
Maybe for the most this might look weak but I see the potential there.
If your experience isn’t that great, please ask someone for advice/help instead of giving up.
How I said, I’m new but i would try my best to help you if you need something.
Just say something ^^


Are you okay, mate? You seem a little angry.

I also note some contradiction or inconsistency in your rant. So, you’re impressed if someone can learn 100 digits of pi by rote in 2 days, but if someone learns 10,000 digits via mnenonics it’s lame or geeky?

(It really shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to learn 100 digits of pi, with no prior knowl3dge of mnemonics, btw.)

I used mnemonics to get a 1st Class honours degree. My daughter used them to get 10 grade A GCSEs. I speak for a living and never need notes.

Yip Swee Choi memorised an entire phone book via mnemonics. Many of us have memorised numerous books of the Bible that way. Others have famously memorised Moby Dick and other such classic texts. The very things you say cannot be done are done frequently and painlessly.

I believe that what you are missing is that mnemonics work precisely by utilising how the memory naturally works.

Incidentally, many of us know Daniel Tammet personally. Joshua Foer is not the only one to question his grandiose claims. Please take a look at Daniel’s performance at the 2000 World Memory Championships and ask yourself why he did not do better if everything he claims about himself is true.

It might interest you to know that Daniel, Robert Carder and I discussed memory systems with each other. Daniel even went on to write and sell one! Now he wants everyone to believe that he is some kind of Kim Peek who does this stuff naturally. The facts do not support his claim.


Cant agree with the title, but I definetly dont like Methivier for advertising himself as tutor for mnemonic teaching at a rate of 160 dollar an hour (forgive me if I remmebered it wrong)

1 Like

I think this post should be deleted from forum .
Bro first learn basic principle of mnemonics

A forum should be a place safe for discussion, including the discussion on the validity of the subject at hand.

Sure, not everyone will agree with us, and that should be fine. But if we deny them entrance, we both force a certain attitude towards mnemonics, and we lose the opportunity to talk with them about mnemonics.

But even people who disagree should stay civil, as Josh also mentioned already.


Professor Metivier offers a free three lesson course by email that covers the basics of his approach. He offers a fifteen lesson course for less than twenty five dollars that goes into much more detail. He has an e-book available on Amazon for a few dollars that covers the entirety of his approach.

He sends almost daily updates and new ways of looking at memory science by email to people who have registered for these offerings. He offers free podcasts a couple of times a week with almost all the prominent people in the memory industry where they discuss in detail the differences in their various approaches.

If that isn’t enough, he offers a master class course that goes into great detail for about three hundred dollars. For those who want to invest time, energy and money in becoming a very serious student of memory, he goes into how to apply modern memory techniques to music, philosophy, foreign language study, scriptures, art and other categories one at at a time, each with their own adaptations. He covers the role of diet, exercise, relaxation techniques, circadian rhythm etc.

For those who can’t be bothered going through all the free or low cost material that he makes available or has some special need that somehow isn’t covered otherwise, he offers coaching at a pretty reasonable price.

I signed up for his master class primarily because he kept sending me so much free material on ways to improve my memory and study methods over the years, I felt I owed him something for his time. Turned out the master class was well worth the money. It actually keeps on giving because now that I am taking up a musical instrument, I am going to go back over applying these methods to acquiring musical skills.

You may well disagree with his methods or terminology. But criticizing him for charging too much for what he offers means that you haven’t looked at his product and fee structure. I get so much free material from him that I don’t have time to even look at it all. You can’t get any cheaper than free. And you can’t find a more expensive way of getting complex, demanding information than getting people to tell you about it in person one at a time. .


Thanks for sharing your experience, Ron.


I am curious about your approach of reusing palaces in a reliable way

1 Like

Markers that change the setting :slight_smile:

Say I have a palace for my home, and I have a need for that exact palace. I can just submerge it under water, set everything on fire, set it into space, you name it.


Whenever I think about this technique, I instantly think that I will get flash images from the original palace and I will get confused.

For example horse locus in virtual memory palace you created Fallout Mall (I am sure you remember)

I have an image that the horse Is taking a shower (lol)and there is a swain on his back

Say I used the underwater settings, the first thing I remember when I come to this locus is the image I mentioned because it is interacting with the locus itself not the original setting.

What are your thoughts /experience?

1 Like