Musings on Mnemonics

This is how my thoughts progress:

Infinite storage: The holy grail of mnemonics would be to have a way to create a systematic palace, that logically progresses, each locus being unique, everything continuing in the same fashion. A way to create infinite storage space. Then all you would need to do is store and review things. Some have tried, using things like SEM^3, Dominic Hotel, but they have never worked for me. Having a 1000 object major system(well, really 1352) is nice for this though. 1352 pegs to attach things to. It does get slightly disorienting, when training or something, when you put that object in a locus or attach it to something else, you often can find the information attached to it as well.

It is easy enough to create new palaces, but it does take a while.

In the tv show Sherlock, someone explained that with Mind Palaces, you store an image in a place, and it’s impossible to forget anything, as long as you can find your way back to it. That’s wrong. You forget the images you store in places, even if you know exactly where you placed them. There should be some way to make the images part of the place…

Perhaps create a palace completely out of the things you’re storing in it? Interesting. It would be different from a ‘story’. How would one do this? Hmm. Lets say you are memorizing the table of elements. The place would start of on top of a star(hydrogen), that would be the ‘floor’ and ‘environment’. There would be balloons attached to the ground with strings, floating(helium); small decorations. On some objects that came later, there would be (lithium) batteries laying around. Outside of whatever the structure is(to be decided later) there would be a ill bear(Beryllium) trying to get inside. For Boron, one could have a baby being born somewhere around there(the mother could be another element). Et cetera. Then, you could later connect the other properties of the elements to them with them being ‘mini-palaces’. Hmm. Will explore this idea further in the future.

Sherlock also explored the idea of (after storing EVERYTHING) deleting unimportant stuff, such as that the earth goes around the sun. “What does it matter?!”. This is very interesting to me. I have managed to consciously reprogram myself by memorizing things from sources that I wish to be like. There are a couple people with excellent emotional control, they speak of it, I take notes and memorize them. Then, whenever something happens similar to the situations described, it just jumps into my head. Ie: whenever verbally assaulted, I’m reminded of my notes for this podcast. Things just appear, I don’t even have to look for them. Anyway, one could do something similar if they used Lembran Sar’s technique for memorizing one image for every day(at least). One could ‘‘delete’’ memories that they didn’t want.

Sherlock did this to make space for other things, which makes sense. While we can create new palaces, it’s relatively easier on the mind to just clear a palace or so, and fill it with something else. Sherlock stores ‘everything’ which connects back to the infinite storage. The writers got it wrong, you do forget things, you don’t just have to find your way back to them. It’s pointless to store everything though. Things aren’t that important. Taking succinct notes and memorizing them for everything useful is good though.

Thoughts, comments, ideas, criticisms? Feel free to add in your own musings on mnemonics, novel ideas, et cetera.

Thanks for stopping by,


1 Like

My comments are fairly meaningless. I just want to make sure I get notification of your follow up posts.

Two comments though: Sherlock is fictional and you are right that you forget. I have introduced a ceremonial cycle (always drawing from my studies of memory in non-literate cultures!) to ensure I repeat some aspects of my palaces on a regular basis. Do you do anything similar. I started at weekly, but found that was far more often than I needed, which is lucky because it took so much time from adding new data. Still playing with this.

“Perhaps create a palace completely out of the things you’re storing in it?” Think this is a lovely and original idea, but I can’t see how it can work. You have just lost the sequencing fixed in place by the physical world. Or have I misunderstood? I’d love to hear more, though.

Basically, I’m just interested in following your musings.

1 Like

About creating palace of objects you want to memorize:

There are two quite similar methods:

  1. Creating imaginary palace and at the same time filling it with mnemonic images That is what I constanly did 3 years ago, because back then I was afraid of running out of palaces (what a noob :D).
  2. The mnemonic images form the palace

So, the distincting feature is that “environment is entirely formed from the objects” (ground, buildings, sky, forest, whatever structure, etc)? Great idea. It is harder than filling existing palace with objects, but shouldn’t be harder than creating an imaginary palace. Just needs a bit creativity (how to construct the structures using only the existing objects?). The structures you get are unique, thus the palace can be very memorable.

Then, you could later connect the other properties of the elements to them with them being ‘mini-palaces’
And yes, it can later be used as an ordinary palace.

What can be a bit disturbing though is that usually you don’t notice the environment, you just use it to recall the small details you’ve stored in it. But now EVERYTHING in your palace has a meaning. When recalling you can’t skip anything, that’s a bit strange (your journey in that palace kind of consists of mini-steps). But maybe that will not be a problem.

Brilliant idea, Bateman :exmark: I’m going to try it out soon.

1 Like

Thank you for the comments.

Just realized the title doesn’t really make sense, but it’s me starting with some ideas and following them. Didn’t intend to follow up on this post, didn’t even remember that it existed :stuck_out_tongue:

Lynne Kelly, there are whole systems for reviewing stored information. Spaced repetition. You review less and less frequently the more time passes. A schedule that works for me(I do it based on feel, I don’t plan out the reviews, I just know when a palace is ‘rusty’) is 2x 1st day, once second day, once 3 days after, once a week after, then 3-4 weeks, 2-4 months. This is enough to remember it, but I usually review more often, as the reason I memorize anything is that it’s useful, and I want it to influence how my thoughts progress, I want it to weigh in on my decisions.

I did give an example of creating a palace out of the objects. It’s more of a linking story than a memory palace. I feel like it could be more powerful than just a link chain though, since you have an environment, and a structure.

R30, as above, it’s somewhere halfway between a link story and an imaginary memory palace. It is a way of backwards memorization, akin to the Less L memorization system, so instead of using a memory palace to guide a structured journey where you store objects, you are using the objects as the memory palace of which the journey is going through(that doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but you get what I mean).

Thanks for the encouragement. When I have more thoughts I wish to share on random mnemonic things, I’ll come back here.


1 Like

Thank you, Bateman. I want to think more about your reviewing ideas and play around with them.

I have found that when I use songs, I start singing them while I am doing things like taking a shower or cooking. When I sing my bird families in taxonomic order, my brain used to see the mnemonic device and the links, but now a lot of it just happens as a song with latin words which I know really well. But I don’t have enough songs yet to know what happens when I have more than one which is so familiar I just sing it as I would a pop song.

Looking forward to more random thoughts some time in the future.


It feels like a waste to read anything if I don’t write down notes on it. I can feel the info just vanishing from my head. If it’s not written down, it’s barely even there. When I do have it written down, I automatically remember it more, because of the extra effort. Then, I memorize it so it changes my thinking.

What am I using mnemonics for? Evolution. Guiding my mind into different ways of thinking. Memorizing a concept, an idea, then reviewing it multiple times. Once a situation fits that idea, that concept, it pops back into my head and I apply it. It became a part of me.

I find this very fascinating, guiding your own (mental) evolution. You see someone whose very being is admirable, and you absorb the concepts that resonate with you. Mnemonics aren’t necessary, but they are helpful(for me). You of course don’t try to become that person, you just take in the ideas that resonate with you. Eventually, you are taking in ideas that resonate with previous ideas that you absorbed.

Gotta go.



I hope it doesn’t put you off that like many others on this forum, I do in fact want to be you. Just telling it like it is.

As I understand it, this Object/Palace idea being talked about is the inversion of an idea that crossed my mind about 20 months ago, which I still think is a good one. It makes a strong ego to think highly of ideas one has which have not yet been proven awful. Feel free to use this little trick yourself.

The attraction of a palace of objects like this is that it ought to be unforgettable in the same way that a palace is, isn’t that right? It does not ‘contain’ contents as palaces do, but is instead entirely contents. And it looks like the musings above are related to making such a palace with any kind of new information one might come across. Hope this isn’t too far off. I skimmed it.

When I truly realized how different a list of 1000 objects was from 52, in that some will be similar to others and many will be quite mundane, and that internalizing the numbers which indicate them would be difficult or at least time consuming, it suddenly seemed reasonable (wise?) to make a very long palace, winding all throughout the town (and inside many buildings), picking 1000 loci that would be suitable to use as objects along the way. The loci would not be evenly spaced. There would be no reason that they ought to be, since the purpose of this ‘palace’ would not be to use and reuse, but simply to reference.

Doesn’t put me off, because I don’t quite understand it. What do you mean? Helpful and nice to people in the forum?

Yep, a palace made out of contents(one of the musings). Just happened to cross my mind.

After reading this multiple times, I’m still unsure whether I got it right. You’re speaking of creating a list of 1000 objects by walking around a town and picking objects along the way? Wouldn’t be used as a way to store things, but just to create the list then review it? Sounds… like a very easy way to create a 1000 object list. Nice. Might be slightly harder to attach the objects to their numbers though.


This one isn’t so much mnemonics, more like philosophy;

Gray, that’s the color of the world. Shades of gray. There are these unattainable black and white ideals, existing in peoples minds, but they are imaginary.

Take something like food vs supplements for example. Seems like a pretty clear distinction. But is it? Supplements cause some effect in the body, ie; stimulate it, or slow it down. Then again, doesn’t food? Spicy food stimulates, chamomile tea slows… If something comes from an animal or a plant, it’s food, right? How about liver tabs? Basically, little dried up pieces of liver, great supplement. Is that food? Is it so much different from something like beef jerky? It’s just cut into neater pieces. At what point does it stop? Fish oil is oil taken from fish(not sure of the process exactly). If someone separated it further, into only the DHA fatty oil, does it then become a supplement? Is it because it comes in a pill, in a bottle? There are no clear lines, everything just is.

Who defines what is brave, what is just, or immoral? Aren’t we all just creatures bound by our surroundings and our traits? Our DNA, and whichever parts of it are activated by our environments? Why are we different from apes? That 2% difference in DNA? A soul? Please; hubris. We aren’t special. We live and die like everything else. There is no purpose to it all, except what we give to it.

That’s freeing though, at least to me. Do as much as I can, in this short life that I have. Why? Amusement. Just to see what I can build. How large can the legacy become? What else am I supposed to do with this?

If you want to be happy, be.


We aren't special. We live and die like everything else. There is no purpose to it all, except what we give to it.
Good thinking. Richard Dawkins (ethologist, evolutionist, writer) mentioned the same thing in Teaching Evolution to Religious Students video.

It also means there is no wrong or right. Just the feelings encoded into our DNA that tell us that ‘killing is bad’. I hope that science will not mess it up in the future (imagine the world of psychopaths…). Rather make us even more empathetic, then everyone can be happy, not just some of us.

In my mind the most beautiful thought is that ‘The world is filled with other minds, each one is in 1st person mode - they feel, have their hopes, wishes, likes, dislikes, opinions…just like me’. It’s like Cerebro depiction in X-men series, only with the difference that you play Professor X (in your mind), and have the ability to enter each colored person you see before you and feel&be its 1st person mode. Hard to describe, since it’s only my fantasy feeling.

This feeling makes me happy, everything suddenly has a meaning. It makes me understand when someone does harm to me - I ask myself ‘Haven’t I felt doing the same? - because of anger, tiredness, jealousy…all like me’). And it really makes me want to do good for these ‘1st person modes’.

And that’s the reason why I’m so interested in thought sharing.

P.S. Buddhism teaches similar things about empathy, these monks seem pretty happy to me (although utterly useless in making something good really happen to the rest of the world).

Yes, I’ve seen that video several months ago. It’s also mentioned in other places, like fight club; ‘You aren’t a special snowflake, you’re the same decaying matter as everything else.’

Precisely. But then again, as Sam Harris points out; we can use science to determine what’s moral. Some people obviously live in better conditions than other people. There has to be a method to generally tell who is better off, and which actions will make more people better off. Then that leads to some interesting ideas such as; why not just off every person who commits a felony? It would stop them from reoffending, they aren’t a hugely significant portion of the population, and people would have a lot more motivation to not commit crimes. That’s against our human nature though. It’s ‘cruel’.

On the world of psychopaths; it’s already a world of narcissists… As far as I understand it, that’s not very likely to happen in our lifetime. There might come out some new drugs that people take to get high that destroy some portions of the brain that deal with morality, but these wouldn’t be ubiquitous. DNA is beautifully complex, it’s extremely difficult to alter an existing person’s whole DNA structure. Perhaps some brain-eating virus though…

Don’t you ever get feelings of solipsism though? How do you know for sure that everyone else actually is? You can’t look through their eyes, try as you might. I do hear what you are saying though.

'‘If I could give the world a hit of ecstasy … to make them feel the feeling that I’m feelin’ right this minute…
Cause when we descend together, we begin to move as one
In perfect unison just like the moon and sun"

There have been studies done that show meditation increases the size of the empathetic parts of the brain. There was something interesting I remember though; mute monks, those who chose to never again speak, have many more nightmares than everyone else. They probably aren’t happy, maybe it’s a social thing.

Am very aware of Richard Dawkins. Evolutionist? While I don’t disagree, it’s an odd label to use.

Great comment, thanks for contributing,


Deep brain stimulation has been used to cure chronic depression (and also epilepsy, cluster headaches, Tourette syndrome, chronic pain). But on contrary, …

Viruses causing rabies and mad cow disease are the ones that can eat your brain, and mad cow disease is not treatable. Fortunately they are under control. But there are deadly epidemies known from the history - Black Death killed every 5th person on the planet. After 9/11 the fear of bioterrorism has been increasing, and 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack shows if planned correctly it is doable even with food. But a simple virus, perhaps one that could break loose/be stolen from these labs:

The court, which heard arguments in the case on 29 August, did not buy this line of reasoning. Making H5N1 airborne was not just basic research, but was a “practical goal,” the judges said; and while the methods had been described before, the researchers had “taken steps and made choices that have led to entirely new outcomes.
He could be the real life doctor Pavel from Dark Knight Rises, couldn't he? Actually it even gave incentive for making the do not do list for bioengineer scientists:
  1. Would demonstrate how to render a vaccine ineffective…
  2. Would confer resistance to therapeutically useful antibiotics or antiviral agents…
  3. Would enhance the virulence of a pathogen or render a nonpathogen virulent…
  4. Would increase the transmissibility of a pathogen…
  5. Would alter the host range of a pathogen…
  6. Would enable the evasion of diagnostic/detection modalities…
  7. Would enable the weaponization of a biological agent or toxin…”
Zombie virus is not possible, but if someone would enhance the viruses causing rabies or mad cow disease, then crazy person epidemia could be the outcome.

If so many people have worries about whether other minds than his/hers do exist or not, then I think this proves that they do exist :D. When thought communication becomes possible, these fears will subside completely.
Of course, we could do an experiment: Ask 1000 persons Are you a robot or not? Perhaps the test will reveal that roughly every third person is actually a program of the Matrix we live in :D.

Good to know. I wonder if I started to meditate, became a taxi driver in London, do aerobic exercise, addictedly start playing World of Warcraft again and say goodbye to porn forever, then will I get a giant brain?

Yes, social isolation can be both cause (in the monks case) and symptom. And it can have more than just psychological effects:

...For instance, social isolation decreases lifespan in the fruit fly; promotes obesity and Type 2 diabetes in mice;...

I meant to write evolutionary biologist, but it was too long…Of course there are many people who still don’t believe in evolution, if that’s what you meant with the labeling.

There is some interesting technology developing on brain stimulation by magnets/light/electricity. Fascinating stuff.

Isn’t it? There are ‘Zombie Drugs’, ie; 1, 2. They are of course imperfect as of yet, but I’m sure some crazy scientist is working on a way to mass distribute them, and/or alter them to be more x. You’ve also mentioned deep brain stimulation; something similar is using magnets/light/electricity to stimulate or ‘turn off’ parts of the brain for a time. There was this one book, ‘The Wisdom of Psychopaths’(great book), the author used that technology on himself to turn off empathy. He felt such an intense freedom from social rules and bonds, stole some stuff, etc. It’s quite fascinating, will definitely try it sometime, not necessarily on that specific part of the brain.

I was also going to link to me and Josh’s discussion, but it’s a private conversation. We talked about how bacteria and viruses can manipulate the behavior of their hosts, ie; crazy cat lady syndrome, ants/snails/cows/bacteria. There are likely many many more instances, we just haven’t observed them yet.

Yeah. I think Nietzsche spoke on this, that when you want to achieve enlightenment you have to isolate yourself, get lost in the woods for a couple years, and you will become both enlighted and insane. Perhaps I’m confusing him with someone else.


I love that topic. Microbes are possibly a key to everything, and all of these questions are going to get much more interesting and complex when we discover aliens. :slight_smile:

You’ll have to quit chess too :slight_smile:

I made myself a grid where I have a picture to represent 0-99 and then another set for the 0-99 in the hundreds and thousands collum and one more set of entirely different images for next two digit placements ( 99xxxx , xx99xx , xxxx99 ) so I essentially have 1 million pre ordained places for pegs, from just 300 unique loci images. ( from 0 - 999,999 ) I call it my internal Mega Drive (mega means million, it’s not a Trudeau reference lol)

So either the first one through three images in any given chain represent my file location …just like the file path on a computer hard drive C: bear/toes/mummy/ …and the rest of the story. Or I can also create a on crude with the three pet items interacting and th hierarchy of their place value can never be mistaken. For example I know that eel and law are the same number but law is the higher placement value, and isle is even above it.
Anyway just food for thought.

Poe, that’s essentially the same as a PAO system, using just objects. Each Person represents a number 00-99, just like every action and every object. Thus; 1 million(1,000,000) possible combinations. I’ve written about SEM Cubed before, here. It is an interesting idea, but I’ve never been able to get it to work more efficiently than normal memory palaces. Just a lot of information; using 3 pieces to remember 1.

Have you gotten it to work better than memory palaces? How do you attach the extra images(ie: all 4 images are combined into a single image, there’s a link story that ends in the final piece of information)? How reliable would you say it is?

Thanks for contributing. If I haven’t said this before; if anyone has any interesting thoughts on mnemonics, some random musings, especially for novel ideas, feel free to add them to this thread.

Re: Josh: They quite possibly are. I don’t see how aliens would play a part in it; if they evolved in a different solarsystem/planet, they are likely so completely different from us that their microbes wouldn’t affect us. If they got over here, they would however have the technology to do whatever they wished to us practically instantly(ie; destroy the whole planet, cause a lethal plague, etc). This is because of the various limitations of space travel which make it so you would have to be able to literally bend space-time at will.


if anyone has any interesting thoughts on mnemonics...
I've been practising your building a palace using mnemonic images idea, I really enjoy it. I noticed that if I always use the same systems for placing the images, then it's easier to construct the palace and later recall it.

System: geometric shapes, squares are the best I think. You see a big square divided into 4 smaller ones, always move (anti)clockwise, each square you fill with an image. Then fill the other squares, and finally blend them all into single smooth landscape (blend the edges together). This blending is a bit like linking, since I try to concentrate on each edge separately.

Now add a bit gavinoism - each square can again be divided into 4 smaller squares (1 locus -> multiple loci), or whatever shape you wish.

Later you think in both smooth landscape (what’s on big square?) and in shapes (there were four squares, on each was sth).

I also like to use heights - the first item is always the highest (the scyscraper/mountain). Then the journey through landscape descends and occasionally ascends again. I have made shapes for remembering 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and 13 items. Beginning from 8 I have 2 floors, and 3 for 13.

An always working way to form a landscape from an object is to multiply it (small mountain of cups, surrounded by four big cups (walls), and on that mountain is one huge cup). Later when trying to recall the object you can concentrate on what was in the center (the big cup), because mountain of cups doesn’t ring a bell instantly (it could have been mountain of any object, e.g. balls).

I find this system exceptionally good for memorizing movie scenes, because then I don’t have to make landscape from objects, instead just place the scenes on squares and then blend.

Sometimes it’s hard to recall a journey I use in palace in detail (especially if small loci), here this problem is gone (always the same shapes).

Anyway, good idea Bateman :slight_smile: Now I don’t always need to worry having palaces any more!

I branched off the discussion about aliens into a new thread and replied over there. :slight_smile:

Bateman, The process of using this peg arrangement is sluggish. I think that in time as the 3 basic list images become reflex, my ability to place information bits inside of it will speed up some, as Ive only been back on the memory wagon for a few weeks after about 25+ years of only using it sporadically.
It certainly isn’t a vehicle for speed…more of like a big open field of land ready for me to build lots of mental palaces within. I originally constructed this idea back in the mid 80’s, what made me look at the digits in terms of placement, instead of a grid, was I was going through the Scott Flansburg math thing at the time. What I have found is the few times Ive gone to use it in the real world I cheated and used just two image points…instead of being brave and placing the info in the higher ranges which would have needed the third list ( 99xxxx). Ive done practice rounds, purposely placing the data in spots all over the range and it works fine, but Ive found that my usual time saving tendency of using the same action over and over again in successive associations starts to get me in some trouble as in any group of ten…two of the items are the same two images every time…so I don’t know if this is just me being rusty, or there really is a need to increase variety in the background, bizarreness and action elements in successive associations. Ive also found that I need to make kind of a separate chain, like an index…for the purpose of reminding me what I need to review within my megadrive.

Something else I attempted back in the day was superimposing mental images onto real world visual cues, in real time. Back when I was a teenager I had this belief that I could train myself to walk into a room, or be in any situation…a meeting…an interview…a lecture…or conversation…and be able to quickly identify the 5 things that jump out at me first, or that are prominent in the room, and begin pinning information on the first object, and mentally manipulating or interacting with whatever points of detail I notice about it the more I stare at it. When exhausted, I move to the next item. In the two times I tried this, I was able to recall my mental notes when I was in that room again. I did not however get an opportunity to see how I fared over a long period of time. The second time was a fast food place and I was superimposing the conversation others were having. I do remember being able to later think about that situation and I could remember all of the items I chose around me, and exactly what I associated onto them. I foresee some fun activities for me and my little daughter to experiment with here in the near future haha.