Moonwalking With Einstein

By Joshua Foer

Link to author’s webpage

  • Success at school and in turn at life is still contingent on knowing a lot of facts and being able to reproduce them in exams and other threshold situations. Therefore, memory training can help anyone, with enough dedication and consistency, to blaze through these exams and set themselves up for success.
  • Memory works best when there is
    1. Ample geographical spaces to build memory places
    2. Enough context about the subject so that new information can stick
  • We don’t remember isolated facts; we remember things in context.
  • Great memory is the essence of expertise. The best in the business are able to look at the same information in a very different manner than a rookie simply because they have seen so much more and remember so much of it intuitively.
  • Kids who do terrible at school usually have terrible academic confidence. By teaching them just a few tricks of the game, that confidence can be built up.
  • Circle of competence / Community fund of knowledge can be easily leveraged to build effective memory palaces. For example, the kind of things you find funny or know a lot about.
  • The art of memory making is a creative art. So the better you get at it, the better you get at story writing. So perhaps there is a bi-directional causality involved here of memorising <=> story writing.
  • The more we remember the better we are at processing the world. The better we are at processing the world, the more we can remember about it. So even to become better at analysis you need to remember more.
  • When you put some effort and struggle to achieve something you enjoy that achievement much more even if objectively the reward isn’t all that gratifying. For example, putting in the effort to get a few grand off on a new PlayStation.
  • Once a benchmark is deemed breakable, it usually doesn’t long before someone breaks it. So kids need to be reminded that they can do it.
  • Surgeons are better at their job because they are constantly receiving feedback on their performance. To improve, one needs to get the data about their performance and spend time analysing it. This helps in conquering the OK Plateau.
  • Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard. Active recall and spaced repetition are meant for this. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.

By telling them of many things without teaching them anything, you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they will now nothing.

— Socrates’ criticism of writing.

  • They who wish to do easy things without trouble and toil must previously have been trained in more difficult things.