Monday, March 11, 2013

Commercial educational coaching program can turn kids into Daniel Tammets?

All kids of weird and wonderful products are promoted in late-night infomercial programs on commercial TV stations. Channel Ten has been running late night home shopping ads for a product that has been around for a while. It is a package marketed as a learning program to teach children mental maths calculation and enhanced memory, which they claim is applicable to school and education. This program is not aimed at any special or intellectually advantaged group of students, in fact in the ad the successful coaching of a child with ADHD issues is mentioned. 

I have no first-hand experiences with the program and I'm not endorsing it, but I strongly suspect that it teaches people how to do performances of the intellect that are the types of feats that Daniel Tammet is famous for. The difference between the kids in the infomercials and Tammet is that the kids are presented as lucky ordinary kids who have had the benefit of instruction in a course that teaches calculation shortcuts (tricks) and memory skills, while Tammet has been presented as a man who can do feats of memory and mental calculation as natural and ultimately mysterious expressions of his autistic synaesthetic savantism. Do you think one story sounds more likely than the other? 

I've extensively researched the story of Daniel Tammet FRSA, and it is my own humble opinion that he's got less credibility than an infomercial running at one in the morning on Network Ten. Would you like to read the full story of Tammet, the story that they didn't tell on 60 Minutes or The Late Show with David Letterman, and which also wasn't told in Tammet's books or in the countless science journal papers that have mentioned Tammet as a case study? The full story can be found here:

Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story

by Lili Marlene

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