Friday, March 28, 2014

Interest sours into disappointment

Yes, I've found a cheap copy at my favourite online book retailer aggregator website thingamujig. How can retailers offer such a good price on a new and recently published book, which looks very worthwhile at first glance? I guess among the whole world one comes out cheapest. 

I was all lined up to splurge a little on a copy but after a few moments perusal of the book through the always useful Google Books I've decided to chase it up through the libraries, and not recommend purchase. A synaesthesia researcher has written a book about the senses and memory, which is a combination of topics that I'm interested in, and I liked his last book, so I was eager to take a look at this one, until I did a search to see how many times Daniel Tammet is mentioned in the book, and read through it to see if it's the standard starry-eyed credulity that I usually find in writing about Tammet. Maybe not so many star-bursts but I think there's plenty of credulity and too much sloppy work. 

In his discussion of Tammet Dutch synaesthesia researcher van Campen consistently confuses what appears to be the method of loci memory encoding and retrieval method with eidetic memory, a basic error or lack of knowledge that should not be displayed by the author of a book about memory. Van Campen also reports Tammet as the holder of the European Pi record with 22, 514 digits recounted, even though most online listings of Pi records give Tammet’s Pi record as only 2964 or don’t list him at all. See here, here and here for starters.

I had been holding out hope that van Campen was the one well-known synaesthesia researcher in the world who was skeptical about Daniel Tammet, as I'd not found discussion of Tammet in his writing before. Popularizers of synaesthesia science now have about as much credibility in my eyes as "savant syndrome" researchers, and that ain't much at all. 

The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories
by Cretien van Campen
published on 23rd January 2014 by Oxford University Press

If you'd like to read the full story of Daniel Tammet, may I recommend my own book? I will anyway. 

Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story
by Lili Marlene

published February 2013 by Smashwords

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