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Memory hack: Derren Brown teaches the method of loci
Do you struggle to remember your to-do list? Then this exercise is for you.
Derren Brown began his UK television career in December 2000 with a series of specials called Mind Control. In the UK, his name is now pretty much synonymous with the art of psychological manipulation. Amongst a varied and notorious TV career, Derren has played Russian Roulette live, convinced middle-managers to commit armed robbery, led the nation in a séance, stuck viewers at home to their sofas, successfully predicted the National Lottery, motivated a shy man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet, hypnotised a man to assassinate Stephen Fry, and created a zombie apocalypse for an unsuspecting participant after seemingly ending the world. He has also written several best-selling books and has toured with eight sell-out one-man stage shows.
DERREN BROWN: We all think we're terrible at remembering things, we all complain we can't remember faces or remember names. We can remember faces often but we can't remember names at a party and we all think we have terrible memories. So, the reality is I think we sort of imagine maybe that some people just have amazing memories and we have images of Meryl Streep who can supposedly just photo read her script. I think these things don't really quite exist in the way we imagine that they do. All memory techniques are based on the idea of working with what the mind already does, which is forming memorable connections between bits of information so we lock them together.
So, for example, to give you a practical example, everything like everything great goes back to the Greeks. This is an ancient Greek technique it's called the Loci system and you can use this if you need to remember any long list of things. I use this at night if I need to remember stuff I've got to do the next day but I'm too tired to write them down. So, here's what you do: It sounds like a lot of work but it isn't once you get your head around it. Have a walk that you know around an area that you can create in your mind very easily, so it could be your street, it could be the walk from the subway station to your house or whatever. And all you need along that area are a few set points that you can remember without having to think about it because you know there's always a zebra crossing there, there's a post box, mailbox, I'm probably using quite English expressions here, there's a certain store, there's a bush whatever just things that you're very familiar with.
Say the first thing you've got to remember is I have to take my suit to the dry cleaners and I've got to do that tomorrow so you have to make a bizarre image of that thing. Say a suit that is so clean it's sort of gleaming bright white that you can barely look at it and you attach that to this image of the mailbox so you imagine someone has dressed up the mailbox in a gleaming white suit or is trying to stuff it in but the light is shining out of the little slot, whatever, you just make a bizarre image that links the two and then you forget about it you don't need to think about it. And then the next thing you do at the next location and the next thing you do at the next location and so on. And as long as you've made those images as bizarre and ridiculous as I'm making them sound, which is what's important, all you do the next day is you just mentally walk down that route again and you go why is there a white suit? Oh yeah I've got to take my suit in. And then the next one maybe is, you know, you had to call your mother and what is it? It's a big shrub by the side of the road so there's your mother in there waving a telephone from the shrub and there's branches and leaves caught up in her hair whatever just a silly image that you don't forget. So, they would do this, and the bigger your area of locations are, the better. I did this with the history of art I used to read a lot around the history of art and I was sick of forgetting about it so I know the city of London fairly well so I just took the route around the center of London that I know well, which would give me about 600 different locations and then starting in Greek St., for example, which is a city in London I started there with the ancient Greeks I would place these bizarre images at little locations so I could, by walking around this route, I could recreate the history of art as I knew it from the books that I had read. So, you can expand this thing or you can keep it small and manageable. So, that's a really good system for remembering lists.
If you want a couple of others that are probably a little briefer to describe, if you want to remember names at a party, and I don't particularly enjoy parties, so I always tend to do this because it gives me something to do, you find a link between the person's name and something about their appearance, what they're wearing, their face, their hair, something. So, you do have to listen that's the first thing when they say the name. Normally the very moment where someone is giving you their name you're just caught up in a whole lot of social anxiety anyways you don't even hear it so you have to listen. You find a link with something that they're wearing so if they're called Mike and they've got big black hair you think oh that's like a microphone so I can imagine like a big microphone walking around or if they've got a stripy T-shirt on you imagine a microphone with those stripes going around it. And it's the same process later on in the evening you see them, you look at the stripes and you go oh that's Mike. Oh yeah that's Mike. The hair, why am I thinking the hair is like a big microphone? Oh yes of course they're called Mike. And while the party dips and you're a bit bored you look around the room and see if you can do everyone's name and then you've got a couple of minutes to sort of try and recreate it if you can't quite remember. Oh yes of course it's the jacket. They've taken their jacket off that's why I can't do it so I'll link it with something else. And then at the end you get to go around and say goodbye to everybody by name and everyone thinks you're very charming and clever.
- Psychological illusionist Derren Brown shares some of his go-to methods for quick and simple memorization, including the famous method of loci.
- One way to easily recall to-do lists is to attach tasks to the items you encounter along a walk you know well, like your route home from the subway station. By linking a bizarre and memorable image to something we want to recall later, we make it easier to memorize.
- Brown also reveals his party trick for remembering the names of new people you meet.
- Hack Your Flow: Understanding Flow Cycles, with Steven Kotler ... ›
- Neuroplasticity: You can teach an old brain new tricks - Big Think ›
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.