Why so few Memory Champions tell, rather than show in their books?


Has anyone else noticed that many of the books written by Grandmasters of Memory will simply tell you about the techniques, fill their chapters with interesting stories, anecdotes, and science garble, but not actually give many concrete examples of how to apply the systems and techniques to things like memorizing random words, vocabulary, branches and areas of knowledge? It seems to me that the best mnemonic memory training books are still by the old school Harry Lorayne. I have yet to find any other books that are as informative and exemplative as Super Memory, Super Student, By H. Lorayne.

I mean, the Memory Champs certainly are very good at using the substitute word techniques/keyword method for memorizing random words in competitions, so why is it none of their books give any examples of how to do that?

Comments and suggestions welcome.

(Josh Cohen) #2

I have that book but haven’t read it yet. I’ll take a look. :slight_smile:


Definitely do Josh! Mr. Lorayne is still the best teacher when it comes to showing examples of applied mnemonics.


I love all of Harry Lorayne books, only thing he doesn’t show is the method of loci I think, he covers almost everything else.


Check out this book. Very humorous but with tons of practical applications.


Haha. Brain Magic! It looks like a good book. Maybe I’ll give it a look-see.

Yes, Harry Lorayne’s main weakness is that he doesn’t seem to value the loci method over the link method, but other than that, he is by far the best memory teacher of the 20th century, and perhaps one of the best in human history.


This is indeed a problem.

Having thought about it a lot over the years, one reason is that sometimes mnemonic examples are used as a crutch by the student. Instead of understanding the concepts, they try to use the examples and fail. If you look at the reviews of Heisig’s mnemonic example books, for example, you’ll see an interesting display of people waiving their broken crutches because the mnemonic examples didn’t work for them.

More and more, it seems to me that the real problem is that mnemonists use the words “image” and “visualization” in ways that confuse matters. You don’t really need to see pictures in your mind, but a lot of people go into this expecting HDTV.

When I spoke with Harry, he said he doesn’t talk about the science because people tend not to care about it. More and more, I talk about it, but link it to the empowering point that mnemonics are not necessarily visual for all people. You can use sound, touch, puns, concepts, etc. All of that is evident in existing material, but not outlined as well as it could be to make it clearer for more people.

At the end of the day, we are still very blessed to have an abundance of learning material. One is truly the most dangerous number in any field of study, practice or craft. I hope the material will continue to proliferate and that people will supplement their reading with multiple perspectives so they get the fullest possible understanding and range of tools in their toolbox.

Thanks for raising the discussion. It’s possibly the most important angle there is when it comes to the pedagogical dimension of this great tradition.