Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer


  1. Joshua Foer details his yearlong quest to improve his memory while working with some of the world’s best memory champions. He clearly describes some very practical memory techniques, research and tricks that can be implemented immediately into our lives to improve our memory. Memory can be improved with training just like anything else, it is not static as many of us believe
Key Takeaways
  1. Myth of how memory started – Simonides walked out of a building just as it fell and was able to show the killed persons family where they were sitting so that they could say goodbye (memory palace – engage spatial memory and create a visual of unmemorable info)
  2. Memory palace – remembering technique where you create crazy visual images of unmemorable lists or items and place them somewhere you are very familiar with such as your house or a route you walk or drive a lot
  3. Memory is a highly creative and imaginative process which is why the POA (person, object, action) memory technique works so well
  4. We have transferred our extremely important skill of memorization externally to books and computers and paintings. It is a way of extending our mortality but it also robs us of something very human and very important – our memory
  5. When shown 10,000 images, people were able to choose the one they had seen over 80% of the time
  6. Most people believe that we remember everything but forget because we misplace them in our minds
  7. Electrically stimulating parts of our brain brings back vivid lost memories
  8. This man named “S” had an incredible memory and can recall pretty much anything that has ever occurred to him. He has synesthesia too and every number is personified and certain words and people he associates with colors too. He visualizes pretty much every word but this makes short stories and poetry very hard for him to read. He stored memories linearly which was why he could recite things backwards as easily as forwards. This is not the case for normal people. Had to work in the art of forgetting by convincing himself that things were meaningless and he’d forget. He was not successful as a person though and could not hold a job.
  9. People must filter life in order to live it
  10. The mental athletes (memory champions) brains’ were indistinguishable to normal people but London cabbies spatial memory part of the brain was considerably larger than normal
  11. Baker v Baker Paradox. You remember a baker better than somebody who’s last name is Baker since you can visualize a baker better than someone named Baker
  12. Make a sound or situation that you’ll easily remember to remember someone’s name
  13. People can remember about 7 +/- 2 things in their working memory
  14. Chunking – remember more by breaking it into bigger chunks
  15. Who we are and what we do are a reflection of everything we have already experienced
  16. “EP” is a man who has both retro and anterograde amnesia. He does not remember anything after WWII for more than a couple seconds. He is kind of in a time capsule but he forgets that he has a memory problem so it seems like everything he forgets is just casual like it is for normal people.
  17. A scientist did a self experiment where he lived in a cave with no clocks or sunlight or anything. He pretty much became amnesiac and thought that only a month had passed when it had been two
  18. Creating new memories stretches out our lives
  19. Tony Bouzan of Mind Map fame and Ben Pridmore are some famous memory champions
    1. Check out Mind Meister – a free mind mapping software tool
  20. Camillo (a Renaissance scientist) believed that he could create a real, physical memory palace where one could store all there is to know in the world by relying on certain powerful cues that could bring to light any subject you wanted to discuss
  21. Assimilative Memory by Loisette is an amazing read on how to improve your memory
  22. Invention is a product of inventory (new ideas or products are a result of what you already have on your head)
  23. Bruce Lee – there are no limits, there are plateaus, but no limits
  24. Learning and memory are like spiderwebs. The more you know, the more you catch and the more you catch the bigger you become
What I got out of it
  1. Memory is very clearly something that can be trained and improved upon. Many of these techniques, such as the memory palace and “writing” people’s names in the air with my finger, are tricks I use in my daily life in order to better remember lists, presentations, names, etc.

Buy Moonwalking with Einstein

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