Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lili's thought for the day

What will or what has Scott Barry Kaufman written about Daniel Tammet in this upcoming book?


Anonymous said...

See here for my analysis:


Lili Marlene said...

Many thanks! I generally agree with your positions, perhaps because we have influenced each other's thinking.

It is really most amazing and telling the way that Kaufman is avoiding acknowledging the routes to remembering study (which we all know had Tammet as a subject and is solid refutation of much of the Tammet legend), while citing a much older study by the same researchers as evidence for his position. That's more than ignorance. I'm still trying to decide how badly Kaufman has misrepresented the "Memory champions" study/paper. The idea put forward by Kaufman in the Huffington Post piece that exceptional memorizers can be sorted into two groups of natural and strategic memorizers has been taken from the 1994 paper by memory researchers Wilding and Valentine, but those researchers make it clear that this is just an idea, not a proven fact. In writing my book I've had a close look at everything written about Tom Morton who I believe is the TM studied by Wilding and Valentine. Data from TM and other superior memorizers previously studied by the researcher were included in the "Memory champions" study/paper, so TM is a part of the evidence cited by Kaufman in the Huffington Post article. The problem for Kaufman is that TM was also written about the researchers AFTER the 1994 paper. TM was written about at length in their 1997 boo Superior Memory, and in that book their conclusion on TM was that although he did describe at length his various performing tricks and his own mnemonic system, they thought his exceptional ability to create mental images and associations could be due to his training combined with "pre-existing unusual aspects to his sensory experience" (synaesthesia, I'd say). As any mnemonist should know, the ability to create mental images and associations lies at the heart of using the method of loci, so it seems likely that TM's synaesthesia gave him an edge in using an important mnemonic strategy, so he is both a natural and a strategic memorizer. I think the case studies of TM, regardless of whether he is Morton or not, throw into disrepute the concept of strategic versus natural superior memorizers, because one man is apparently both, as could all people demonstrating memory superiority. There's a truckload of evidence linking synaesthesia with very varied types of memory superiority - just look at my blog!

Lili Marlene said...

PS I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a movie of Born on a Blue Day, and if it ever is made it will be in German, so there will be little overlap between the people who will see the movie and the English-speaking people who know from first-hand experience about the Daniel Corney years and know that the book had many important omissions.

Lili Marlene said...

I'm a little bit concerned that we are all poring over papers and books about memory superiority from the 1990s. Have there been major developments in research on memory superiority since then?