Sunday, March 15, 2015
One big fail - a major corporate recruitment assessment company sponsored the event that built the reputation of a man with a hidden past
SHL Group is a company that offers tests and questionnaires relevant to personality, abilities and aptitudes for use in recruitment selection by companies and government bodies all around the world. Their list of clients includes ANZ, Coca Cola, Oxfam, Qantas, Vodafone, Nissan, KPMG, Coles and NASA. SHL Group were also the sponsors of Daniel Tammet's now-controversial 2004 "Pi in the Sky" memory record event to raise funds for the National Society for Epilepsy in the UK. One source is currently claiming that the memory record was not really broken by Tammet in 2004 even though press and official sources from the time claimed that the European/British record for memorizing Pi had been broken.
Money raised by the event was to go toward a new leaflet from the NSE about epilepsy and memory, which is quite an irony considering that this event was a feat of memory that was publicized as being the result of extraordinary mental powers mysteriously created by an early childhood seizure suffered by Tammet, while the currently-available leaflet about epilepsy and memory from the NSE (now the Epilepsy Society) only discusses memory problems and strategies to help deal with memory difficulties.
Expressions of skepticism about claims that Tammet has mysterious savant memory and calculation abilities date back many years, with figures from the memory sport community asserting that Tammet, who competed in memory championships in 1999 and 2000 under his original name of Daniel Corney, used much the same memory techniques as other competitors. Daniel Tammet is clever with numbers but his story never did add up, but that didn't stop a major company, whose business it is today to decide whether countless job applicants get an interview, from sponsoring the event that created Tammet's international reputation as a "genius" and a "savant". I'd say that was one gigantic failure of SHL to identify an issue with the talent.
My book about Daniel Tammet: