Memorizing massive list, maybe unrealistic.

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#1 7 June, 2016 - 07:03
Joined: 1 year 5 months ago

Memorizing massive list, maybe unrealistic.

I found a document a student did from another year that I would like to memorize, I only have a few days before my test.
Here is the document:

How would you do to memorize it? Would be very nice if someone could show me a solid example, or just anything would be massive to me as I only have some very basic knowledge about memory palaces.


7 June, 2016 - 10:50
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

Hi Alex,

That really is a massive amount of information. It looks to me like it could be valuable info, but it would probably taken all but the very the best memonists a significant amount of time to memorize it and consolidate it into permanent memory. That is my opinion, anyway.

I certainly believe that this info would be valuable to absorb, but only if you have the time to do it properly. If you only have "a few days", my advice would be to pursue a different strategy. It surprises me to think you would be expected to know all that on a test. Is there a way to setiously reduce the amount of facts you need to retain?

I love mnemonics, but at times they can distract us from using other tools that might be more suited to the task at hand.



7 June, 2016 - 11:19
Joined: 1 year 5 months ago

That is only a small amount of what we need to know, I'm a medical student so that is how life is for us. But If anyone have any suggestion on how I should start to tackle it I would be very happy. :)

7 June, 2016 - 18:59
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

Hi Alex,

Okay, let's think about this. The first 7 pages (or so) are lists of 'most common' problems and 'most common causes' of problems. They are in the form A=B. And, apart from forming groups like cardiac, pulmonary and gastrointestinal, there doesn't seem to be any special order to them.

Since order is not important, I would probably not be inclined to use a memory palace, although you certainly could. Because they are in the A=B form, I would prefer to put them on flash card software, then just use mnemonics to try to speed up my retention where they are likely to help.

At a glance, it seems like a number of entries would probably not require any mnemonics. For example: MC nutritional disorder in the world = iron deficiency

It seems to me that I would probably be able to remember that backward and forward with little trouble. (i.e., if prompted for A, I suspect I would recall B without trouble and vice-versa.) Therefore, unless I later found that I was having trouble remembering, I would not bother to use a mnemonic for this, but I would add a card for it.

The next one, though, would be tougher for me--partly because I don't know what it means and partly because of the challenging vocabulary. So, for that one, I would definitely want to use mnemonics. (By the way, I would also want to take the time to research its meaning, but the objective here is to discuss how one might use mnemonics.)

The example is:
MC paraneoplastic syndrome = Hypercalcemia.

So, we want the A side (MC paraneoplastic syndrome) to remind us of the B side (Hypercalcemia), as well as the B side to remind us of the A side.

To do that, I would try to turn both sides into some sorts of images that I can then link together. To start, I would play with the words to try to generate an image.

To me, paraneoplastic reminds me of the words parasol, neo and plastic, so I might picture Neo (from The Matrix) made of plastic and carryng a parasol. Do I also need to also think about the word syndrome? Maybe, maybe not, depending on whether I think I already have a natural association between the words paraneoplastic and syndrome. If, I do, I might save myself the effort of trying to convert it to a mnemonic. Let's assume I don't have an automatic association, so do I need to turn it into a mnemonic as well. Syndrome sounds to me a bit like 'seeing a drone', so for my full A side image, I might imagine a plastic Neo carrying a parasol and seeing a drone. Perhaps it is an attack drone and it would make him nervous.

The B-side is Hypercalcemia, which reminds me of the words hyper, call, and 'see me'.

So, to put it altogether, I could turn it into a story. I might imagine plastic, parasol-toting Neo seeing the drone, at which point he becomes visibly agitated and hyper, so he gets out his phone to call Orpheus, who tells him that there is nothing to worry about because he, Orpheus, is operating the drone, not an enemy. Then, Neo, might stick out his tongue at the drone, asking Orpheus, "Do you SEE ME?"

To do the rest of these A=B types, I would just load them into a flash card software, as memtioned, then make up stories as necessary, but only as necessary since coming up with mnemonics and stories is time consuming, although you get faster with practice.

Not sure if this helps you, but hopefully it gives you at least an idea how you might start.


7 June, 2016 - 21:37
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

The next section (around page 8) is labelled Granulomas and appears to me to be a list of things that are supposed to be examples of granulomas.

These I might put into a palace or journey dedicated to granulomas.

Each entry on the list would occupy one place, but because each one might entail memorizing several words together, I might prefer using a journey with a fair bit of space between loci.

Generally speaking, the trick here would again involve wordplay to turn words into images and actions.

In the first place of my journey, I would place Granulomas as the title. Since 'granulomas' reminds me of the word grandmothers, I might just picture my two grandmothers on my front porch, which is the start of my journey. The images are supposed to be unique. An image of my two grandmothers may not seem very odd, but since they have both been dead for some time now, finding them on my front porch would seem very memorable to me.

The second place would be the start of the list of examples of granulomas. The first one is fairly long, making it a tougher challenge:

subacute granulomatous (de quervain) thyroiditis.

When the phrases or sentences are a bit longer, they are likely to make it harder to form clear images. What I often try to do is to use wordplay to produce one slighly complex image (that may be composed of 2 or 3 images together), followed by a verb mnemonic, followed by another image. It's like a subject-verb-object relationship. Hopefully, you will understand what I mean as I step through my example.

The words 'subacute granulomatous' remind me of the words, submarine, cute, grandma and tomatoes. So, I might form a picture of a comical-looking submarine being operated by a cute looking grandmother juggling tomatos. This image is going to be the subject of a sentence.

The word 'thyroiditis' reminds me of thigh, hemorrhoid and -itis or inflammation, so together they might make me imagine a woman who has inflamed hemorrhoids on her thighs that are causing her pain and itchiness. This image would be like the object of the story-sentence I am constructing.

In the middle is 'de quervain'. I have no ide what these word actually mean, but I am going to try to use wordplay to change them into some kind of verb.

Suppose a person de-veins something. To me, that would mean that they are grabbing hold of a vein and yanking it out of the body part it is normally attached to. Kind of gross, but gross is good for remembering. When I was young, the word queer was just an adjective referring to something that was considered odd or a little different. So, to me, a queer vein might just be a vein that seems odd or out of place, and the verb "to de-queer-vein" would mean "to yank out an odd vein."

So if we put it altogether, we can now create a story-sentence as follows:

In my parking lot (the second place of my journey), I imagine a submarine being operated by a cute grandmother who, while juggling tomatoes, reaches down and "de-queer-veins" herself around the thigh area where she was feeling extreme itchiness due to painful hemorrhoid-itis".

I would just continue on in a similar way until I had a story-sentence for each example of a granuloma. In cases where the sentences or phrases are shorter, they should be easier, and hopefully quicker, to memorize.

Hope this helps.


8 June, 2016 - 04:02
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

For the rest of the list, I would probably alternate between these two methods.

The fact is, most of the time we use a small number of basic techniques. We may have to use a bit of strategy to figure out the best plan based on how we plan to use the information, but we don't need a thousand different techiniques. Once you know a few basics, you can memorize almost anything. Experience might help you decide if it is a bit better to use a memory palace vs some other method, but probably any method will work. Some methods may work a bit better than others, but usually only a bit.

The only other advice I might like to add is that you may be able to save yourself a bit of time by coming up with some pre-established mnemonics for words, affixes and roots that are common among the information you are memorizing. For example, if you are likely to encounter a number of words with 'lymph-' in them, it might speed things up to use the mnemonic word 'limp' everywhere that it shows up.

Lymphoma might become 'limping Oma', where Oma is German for grandmother. (Just for the record, the apparent grandmother theme is just coincidence, I don't actually have a fixation.)


Lymphocyte might refer to 'limp-ocide', a made-up word referring to the murdering of people who limp. A despicable crime, indeed, but one that is probably easy to picture and remember.



7 June, 2016 - 22:31
Joined: 1 year 5 months ago

Thanks Tarnation that was some exceptional posts!
I will be using a lot of flashcards as that Is that I'm already doing. Do you always recommend avoiding memory palaces when learning things which does not have to remembered in a order?

Again thanks, really I did in no way excpect such a good response. :)

Alex S

8 June, 2016 - 04:05
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

I wouldn't specifically avoid using memory palaces just because the information doesn't need to be sequential in order.

It's more a question of thinking ahead to how I will want to retrieve my stored information in each specific case, and how to minimize the work to encode the information in the first place, but I make my choices on a case-by-case basis with no hard and fast rules.

For the A=B formatted items, I only want for the A-side info to remind me of the B-side info (and vice-versa), so it seemed to me more efficient to save myself the hassle of associating either piece of info with an additional and otherwise extraneous piece of information, such as a piece of furniture or other loci image. Often, a memory palace can aid with random access, which is generally what I want, but in this case, it seemed to me it might have the opposite effect--I thought it might just leave me wandering through my mental corridors, so to speak, trying to find my data.

Other memonists might have thought this through differently, It was just a strategic decision based on how I thought I would most efficiently encode and retrieve the memorized info.

9 June, 2016 - 05:07
Joined: 4 years 6 months ago

One more thought might be worth mentioning. It is something I don't recall hearing others talk about often. How do we deal with similar words that are easily confusable?

Sometimes I find similar-looking words can lead to confusion later on. Suppose, for example, I was finding that words with lymph- in them were causing me undue confusion and I was continuously getting them mixed up, then I would start looking for strategies to emphasize their differences, rather than their similarities.

So, if lymph- words were causing me a problem, then rather than use the mnemonic limp- for everything, I might instead consider using a different word each time, in hopes that doing so might force me to pay closer attention to the differences. So, instead of linking lymphoma to LIMPIng-Oma, I might link it to the mnemonic "LIMBO-ma" and picture my mother doing the limbo. At the same time, I would keep associating lymphocyte with the mnemonic "LIMP-ocide". So, in one case, I might use LIMBO, while in the other I use LIMP.

The main point is that we often get confused between similar-looking information, especially when we are in a hurry to memorize a lot of difficult words and phrases that share a lot of similar-looking roots and affixes. In those cases, the underlying problem arises because we are paying less attention to the finer details that distinguish the similar words and phrases. If we notice that happening, we can look for a strategy to use our mnemonics to make ourselves pay more attention to the differences, rather than the similarities. Each individual will need to find their own specific tactics, but the underlying principle is to do things that force you to pay closer attention to the differences when two things are similar.

Not sure if my example was the best, but hopefully the principle shines through.

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