Ask a memory champion

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24 August, 2014 - 11:01
Joined: 3 years 1 month ago

Vote up!
Hi Ben

Would you mind if you email me your book "How to Be Clever"?
Is it okay for you to email me the book as a Word document

my email address is [email protected]

Thank you


24 August, 2014 - 15:50
Joined: 3 years 12 months ago

Hi Ben, I am fanatic of your wonderful technique. I just recently up graded to Ben System for numbers and binary with different approach to make it easier with some of the words. since some of your codes using fricatives and stop fricatives like sh/sp/st and so on. But just like you said it is all worth the effort.

Well, I have a question. I would like to know how you divide 40 digits in three location? if that's how you do it. because I am wondering what to do with the last remainder of 4 digits. So, my question how do you do it?

P.S. I would also love to have a copy of your wonderful book. you can send it here: [email protected]


27 August, 2014 - 03:23
Joined: 3 years 9 months ago

Hey Ben,

I'm new to mnemonics, just wondering about your consonant arrangement, having hard & soft G for 6, did you have more difficulty coming up for images with Sh or Ch? I want to simplify my system and save some consonants for other uses but am slightly hesitant to mess with the phonetics. anyone else's opinion is very much welcome

31 August, 2014 - 13:30
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

Dear Ben,
I am a new folk to these memory sites. I got a hold of the 'eancient' Memory Book by Loraine and Lucas way back in the 70's, but I have only started really applying it within the last two years. I am in my late fifties. I really would like to thank you for your sharing of your wisdon on this site for those of us who want to learn about this unique skill and art of mnenomics.
i have easily mastered the Major System, and I have word pegs for all the alphabet. I have very little trouble in memorizing long lists of words, long numbers, and sets of info like historical dates and events. I know that loci is important for memorizing lots of info, but I do not usually have to resort to that, I just string images of objects doing outlandish things to others in sequence, and it works. It seems that it my mind's eye, I can move to one peg image to the next without the need for loci and without things being sequentially mixed up. My one difficulty though is memorizing pictures of people with their names. If I meet the people in real experience this is not a problem, but in trying to memorize from pictures, for some reason the associations just do not stick. This happens with the Android App. I am using called Memory Ladder with a tablet. I stare at the pictures, make the associations with the App. and then when the names go away, the images go, and I feel like I am seeing them for the first time. The other excercises in the Android ladder App. are not a problem at all for me, but this one thing is hard. Could you or someone else help me with this problem. Thanks in advance, and this memory stuff is not only very useful to me, but it is just great fun. I am working on a system to memorize the Bible, and also Arabic.

31 August, 2014 - 16:21
Joined: 3 years 4 months ago

There is a medical condition called "Prosopagnosia"
There are various levels
If you have no problems in real life, you obviously do not have a severe form of Prosopagnosia, but you might have a mild form
Here is a website

5 September, 2014 - 17:07
Joined: 4 years 10 months ago

Xaireignapos wrote:
Dear Ben,
My one difficulty though is memorizing pictures of people with their names.
Could you help me with this problem?

You must be lost.

5 September, 2014 - 17:21
Joined: 4 years 10 months ago

simon L. wrote:
Hi Ben,

Three quick questions today:
1) What is the size of your hat? Neanderthal people had smaller brain and I'm wondering if there might be a relation between skull size and memory power.


You were misinformed about this. Neanderthals had roughly 15% larger brains than we do. (~1600cc vs ~1400cc)

8 September, 2014 - 14:22
Joined: 5 years 9 months ago

I own an anthropology book which claims that Cro-Magnon people had a slightly larger brain than we do. The same book says that the Cro-Magnon evolved from the Neanderthal people, but not the European Neanderthal people. Maybe were talking about different populations of Neanderthal people? It would make sense that the Neanderthal people from which the Cro-Magnon Man evolved would have a bigger skull than we do but perhaps that Neanderthal population was not typical of the Neanderthal species?

However, my book is relatively old and new findings sometimes provide new perspectives.
May I ask for your sources?

I just double checked my book, Life, Early Man, and it is pretty clear that what is written in it contradict the claim that you are now making. I had memorized it all right although the book may still be mistaken. The book only claims that the Neanderthal Man's Brain size could overlap with both Cro-Magnon and Modern Man. This clearly implied that, as a rule, the Neanderthal people had a smaller average brain size compared to ours. My book isn't particularly clear on that subject however, saying at one point that Cro-Magnon and Modern Man were indistinguishable and then later saying the Cro-Magnon had a slightly bigger skull.
The online encyclopedia suggests that you are right though. I guess they have the latest info.

29 September, 2014 - 05:41
Joined: 4 years 10 months ago

I have read more books on the evolution of life than on any other subject by far, but not all of them dealt with early man. And Out of Africa is also a fairly new idea so there is much about the late hominid cousins that I still don't understand. But if I remember correctly, The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Dawkins did touch on the subject since he vehemently denies the reality of punctuated evolution in favor of graduated change (offspring is always very similar to its parents, at a minimum they are always the same species, which is the only point that patters on the issue. It's an open and shut case I think.) So I'm going to hazard a guess and say that that was the one. And if not, I am at pretty sure it was another of his books, but it could have been any of them.

This book, Life, Early Man, I can not find any information about. But I haven't known Dawkins to make claims that the physical evidence doesn't back up, and publishing something so specific and yet incorrect about such a cut-and-dry fact, especially one that is so peripheral to the central arguments being made, would be extraordinarily reckless of any scientist. The author of your book may be guilty of this, but I'm betting it was written at a time when there was less physical evidence. It's a forgivable mistake, and honestly I don't even see how that rule is clearly implied by the statement that you paraphrased.

Designations of different species down their lineage can change over time as the designation of species in this case are merely human conventions. When there is a comparison of species which existed at different points in time, investigating the truth of the defining characteristic of different species, that they cannot produce viable offspring together, is not a valid or even sensible line of inquiry. Convention is the only thing these designations could possibly be if graduated evolution is true. So if the book is out of date, that might be another possible source of obfuscation.

Marathon Master Zoomy: In 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008, how many times did you practice hour cards and 30 minute binary per year? And sorry if you answered this second question, but how often did you actually do the entire recall process afterward?

30 September, 2014 - 08:38
Joined: 3 years 2 months ago

Dear Ben, Thanks for your comments and help in learning memory techniques. Your observation on my difficulty in memorizing names and faces could very well be a form of Prosopagnosia, or I think it might be also possibly related to the fact that I have a retinal cone deficiency that could affect my visual memory in my brain of faces. Due to this retinal condition I am very nearsighted, I am unable to drive a car even with my glasses, and I have some color deficient vision also. I do see colors, but not always the same ones that most of the population sees. People can show me a certain shade of bright yellow, and to me it will look no different from bright green. Also, sunlight and indoor light can chnage color perceptions for me also. But I have no trouble making memorable pictures in my head. I can add movement, color, noise, and even mental smell to my images,;but when I try to imagine faces, even from people I know, either from real life or pictures, it gets more challenging. When I have repeated objects in a set of memorized things, I use polka dots, stripes, all black, or all white, and really bright loud colors that I usually can see well in real life to differentiate images. The other thing that I have found helpful in memorizing faces is to really distort some facial feature while looking at the face, and imagining that I am getting really close to the face of the person to see their features. Since my vision is bad, but I can still see people's faces clearly when I talk to them in normal conversational distances, This difficulty in remembering faces may be more of just an incapacity to see them really close up. When I use the Memory Ladder program in my tablet to memorize faces and names, i find the pictueres rather too small to really get a good close up of the person's face. I am going to try using larger pictures for this memory capacity.
Another thing that has come to mind is, do you know if anyone has found it to be most efficient in memorizing images in loci to limit them to only 7 items. That is to limit the image chunking to only 7 items per loci. I know from short term memory research that most people are only capable of keeping 7 items in short term memory at a time. What do you think of this? I thought about this because, as I have looked at the different memory systmes of your's, Lorraines, and many others on this website and in books, that there seems to be a tradeoff between coding and chunking memorized information. It's sort of like the difference between the Chinese and English languages. Chinese requires the memorization of many characters, while English only requires 26 characters, but also the memorization of lots of unphonetic pronounciation rules to communicate. Languages vary in their quantity of core memorized material, rules, word forms, and syntax to communicate meaning. Word forms can be very important in one language, while syntax in another is more important than word forms even some syntax rules might be needed also. I wonder if it works this way also in memory systems since languages are in a sense a memory system.
Also, one last thing. Could you send me your book on being clever in the Word. format. My email is [email protected]. Thanks so much Ben. To almost everyone I meet, I try to get them to understand how much fun, usefull, and creative it can be to take the drudgery out of memorizing. What is startling is how many folks think this is just impossible for them to do, but it is not. They tell me I can do it because I have a good visual memory that they do not have, and it is almost impossible to get them to at least try the techniques. I will keep at it. I know so many people that could benefit from this training, and how it could make their lives better in work, study, and personal life.

30 September, 2014 - 11:42
Joined: 5 years 9 months ago

My book, Life, Early Man, is by Clark Howell, 1965, 1973.

Anyway, Ben wants to hear about balding pattern as it relates to intelligence. Well, all I can say about this is that my dad often says, "Grass doesn't grow on a busy street." He may have a point there.

From my own experience running a memory competition, I would dare to suggest that being small may be an asset. Are there any Grand Masters of Memory above 6 feet 3 inches? Many of the world's top athletes are this tall but not in memory sports, right?

In regards to memory training, I find that the recall portion of 1 hour marathon sessions, which can take up to 2 hours, is perhaps mostly wasted time. I'm starting to think that since no one really cares about the results of one's marathon sessions, it may be better to simply review mentally all the images on the journey quickly and put a mark down for every image that one thinks has been memorized correctly. This gives a much more approximate test result but it saves a great deal of time and I'm starting to think that most of the benefit from the marathon relates to the memorization session and not the recall session. So, if you have a limited amount of time to train, would you think that you might be able to get ahead faster if you did only occasionally a full written recall, giving you more time to just do and practice the memorization sessions?

Congratulations on winning the UK memory Championships!

2 October, 2014 - 00:53
Joined: 4 years 10 months ago

Just as I suspected. The majority of knowledge about physical anthropology and evolution in general has been learned between 1973-2014, instead of the vastly larger period of 1859 - 1973. So I think that puts the discrepancy to rest to my satisfaction.

In almost all of my marathon attempts I think, "Wow, you knocked it out of the park this time." And I'm almost always wrong. So exercise caution with this method of not legitimately recalling. Plus, there is a very big difference between what you can recall immediately after encoding and what you can recall 90 minutes later. Because of the length of the recall period, recall itself becomes a vital skill, where in the shorter events solid memorization is enough on its own.

2 October, 2014 - 07:15
Joined: 5 years 9 months ago
That's a link to my book, if you are interested.
Personally, I never ever get the feeling that "Wow, I really knocked it out of the park this time." So maybe I don't have to worry about this so much.

I just started doing this yesterday and I get a similar head ache the next day, which tells me the exercise is likely just as good for the brain but takes much less time which means I can do it twice a week. Ben claims that he used to make the exercise back to back on Saturdays and Sundays. But I'm suspecting that giving recuperation time in between marathon may be helpful as it is helpful with some other sports. I can spare an hour and a half on Wednesdays but not 3 and a half hour. Furthermore, my experience yesterday, doing it in 1 and half hour, suggests that speed is fostered by such an approach. And that is one area where I suspect I could improve a lot.

Thanks for the comment.

22 November, 2014 - 08:32
Joined: 2 years 12 months ago

What exactly is Moonwalking with Horses about? :) Can I please get a text file of your book (How to be Clever) ( [email protected] ) :)

4 January, 2015 - 21:33
Joined: 2 years 9 months ago

Hi Ben!

I'm a huge fan and I'm really thankful that you are doing this for all of us.

I'm very new to this stuff but I feel like I'm getting better. I'm particularly interested in speed cards. What are your three best tips for memorizing decks of cards as fast as possible?

I know it's a broad question, but it would be awesome to hear from you!

Also, if possible, I'm really interested in your book...if you are still emailing it to people, it would be awesome if you could send it to the following address:

[email protected]

Thank you so much for your time.

23 September, 2017 - 12:36
Joined: 3 weeks 3 days ago

great thread!!!

23 September, 2017 - 14:40
Joined: 1 month 4 weeks ago

Oops, I already posted a questions, but then realized this is a 4 year old post by Mr. Pridmore, so I changed it. There really should be an option to delete our own posts.

23 September, 2017 - 22:07
Joined: 3 weeks 3 days ago

ben you are best!!

24 September, 2017 - 11:48
Joined: 2 years 2 months ago

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