And you thought 'photoreading' was a joke...

Anything that's nothing to do with music.
cjhealey
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Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 10:35 am

And you thought 'photoreading' was a joke...

Postby cjhealey » Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:11 pm

Hey,

I started a recent dicussion about something called photoreading, however, I believe I've found something that will make you absolutely cringe - or roll around laughing - at.

It is a book called "Quantum Reading" and is by a Japanese teacher.

To summarise, she believes that by learning imaging and improving your retinal-image-retention then you will be able to read a book by simple "flicking through the pages".

By this I don't mean turning the pages, I mean flicking through them- like when you run your thumb across the closed pages so that they flutter.

Here are the claims she made about what the children she has taught and the people using the book will be able to do:

1. Read books by having the right brain create some abstract image which is in fact a representation of the information and can be decoded

2. That books in unfamiliar langauges can be read and understood in the same way.

3. That you can even get 'sound impressions' by flipping the book by your ear - as in you hear what is happening in certain scenes.

4. That you can heal people by imagining you are a microscopic man and are going into someone elses body to heal them.

etc etc etc

I think that is enough for you to see what I'm talking about.

I got the book out from the library because I was looking for ways to improve my reading... I can't believe that someone would actually publish this!

There is absolutely no real scientific basis to any of it. It just makes my mind boggle. lol

And when I read or am told something which involves the words "If you just open your mind" (or is just plain trash) I am immediately reminded of a song by the comedian, Tim Minchin: "If you open your mind too much, y our brain will fall out"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAP0fUVhtkw
I'm fairly certain there is no swearing in that song.

He has a good point though :-)

Laters,
Chris :-)

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:42 am

Yipe. Well, I guess there's room in life for every idea, whether or not the idea is actually true.

I have been surprised to learn that there's actually a serious-- and heated-- scientific debate about whether the mind literally forms pictures in memory or whether object representations are retained in an abstract-relational way and, when brought to mind, appear to be pictures.

My surprise is because I thought it was obvious that our minds don't actually "take pictures"-- I don't see how anyone can take the picture-memory argument seriously, because even in the papers we've read here the best argument for picture-memory seems to be "because we see pictures when we close our eyes, and interact with those pictures in the same way as we do real objects."

But many people, including my father, see nothing at all when they close their eyes; and my work with visualization in the theater has made abundantly clear that mental images are not even slightly bound by any physical laws. Whatever images we can picture appear as they do because that's their most logical and appropriate form; but if you imagine a blue car, and I tell you to crush that car into a fist-sized ball, eat half of it, and flatten the rest into your shirt pocket, you can do it as easily as snapping your fingers. You'd probably even be able to tell me what it tastes like. As far as I'm concerned, visual imagery is limited only by what you can imagine, not by physical properties of objects you've seen.

cjhealey
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Postby cjhealey » Mon Feb 11, 2008 6:24 am

That is the same argument I've been looking into aswell.

The strange thing is that some people really do seem to have a photographic memory. They can look at something and recall it as though looking at an actual photograph.

For example, people with photographic memories can literally see a page once and be able to tell you, in the correct order the words and punctuation on the page.

Most people can't do this though. Most people, as you said, merely form some mental representation of an image based on the numerous characteristics it is composed of.

The problem with this idea is that if we see something enough times, we can recall what it looks like with near perfect accuracy as an image form. Think about the room in a house you've lived in for some time. I bet you can 'walk' through them in your mind as in real life.

Interestingly though, the short term storage of visual information can be improved. There was a study done which looked at the mental retention of an image that was seen for only a brief moment. In some cases, people were able to recite a page of text after it was flashed on a screen but they couldn't maintain the information for more than a few minutes.

One theory is that we all initially utilise a photo-like system where we remember purely in images or raw sense perception - Sights, sounds, tastes, smells etc were remembered as the actually sensation because there was no other way of processing it - nothing else to associate it to. So all this data was stored as raw sensations. What a baby/child sees is remembered as an actual image.

However, then we start to learn to communicate and as a result, we have to learn to turn those perception into words. This leads to the child associating sensations with words instead of the raw sensations. A piece of pizza hence is remembered to taste like "Pizza" rather than what it actually tastes like.

Basically, and I think I've mentioned this before, it would seem that many of our potential abilities are eroded by our need to communicate the way we do. And the observation I have made is that those with amazing mental abilities almost always have huge communication problems. I am forced to wonder if this is mere coincidence or if there is in fact a significance to this - as from a statistical point of view the is a very strong inclination toward such.

However, it must be pointed out that our ability to communicate and rationalise is the only reason we can actually make any form of progress. If we can't express ourselves then our ideas are meaningless, no matter how great or insightful. And if you look at any of the amazing minds throughout history, they have all been eccentric or abstract thinkers, however, they have all had the ability to communicate and rationalise.

There is only one renowned scientist in history who I can think of who had a photographic memory: Nikola Tesla.

He said that he rarely needed to draw blueprints or make adjustments to what he built because he was able to see the working parts and dimensions of any machine in his head.

He also said he could read a page once and remember it word for word for the rest of his life.

He also described the strange experience of 'realisations' or 'epiphanies' coming to him in brilliant flashes of light. When he had a problem, he would experience a 'flash' and the answer would appear before him.

Now, I know that Tesla could have well been trying to make himself seem like some sort of genius, but the one thing I'd like to mention is that he also recorded his father making him and his sister play memory games etc every night which included memorising songs, scripture, stories etc etc as well as playing maths games and being encouraged to create and build things.

You'd probably even be able to tell me what it tastes like. As far as I'm concerned, visual imagery is limited only by what you can imagine, not by physical properties of objects you've seen.

For me that is true. But I would still like to know how we processed information when we didn't have words or language to think or communicate in.

Anyway, I'd better stop before I give myself tendinitis or arthritis lol

Chris :-)

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:21 pm

I read somewhere (probably Wikipedia) that photographic memory as popularly imagined has not actually been reliably observed in any subjects... whether such a drastic claim is true or not I can't say, but the uncertainty makes me gravitate toward examples like the one you've given, Nikola Tesla, whose abilities could be as easily (or perhaps better) explained by a stronger grasp of featural relationships.

I picked up somewhere along the way the obvious example of hierarchical knowledge; you'd never doubt that you know how to get from where you are now to some other familiar place (your home, the movie theater, the library) but when someone actually asks you, you have to imagine all the steps as you speak them. The apparent reason is that you/we have an efficient memory-- we remember the most salient relationships between "things", so that we may readily infer (and thus re-create) those aspects which we do not commit directly to memory.

So Tesla's ability to remember blueprints, for example, need not be any different from a visual image which becomes clearer with greater familiarity, that is in either case to be described not as an increasingly detailed visual image but as an increasingly provocative network of relational associations.

The illusion that we "think in language" is one of the first things I have to demolish in my acting instruction. I ask my students to make some statement, and then to rephrase that statement ("say the same thing, but don't use any of the same words"). They'll find themselves staring, sometimes literally, at this idea in their head which is self-evidently separate from the words, precedent to the words, and the generative concept which prompted the words' issuance.

cjhealey
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Postby cjhealey » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:47 pm

you'd never doubt that you know how to get from where you are now to some other familiar place (your home, the movie theatre, the library) but when someone actually asks you, you have to imagine all the steps as you speak them
.
Like you said, we remember by association - one thing triggers another which triggers another - and this is a perfect example of such. We see a landmark which triggers the memory 'turn left here'. We don't consciously think "right, left, left, 2 streets then right" when going between familiar locations.

I think this is also the same with the way people remember speeches, plays, and especially songs. We remember 'chunks' and then link the chunks together. If you were asked to go write down the words for a song you like, you could most likely write them down but not in the correct order. However, if you are listening to the music, one line triggers the next line or verse etc.

Like you said, it is efficient and focuses not on raw facts and data but on the association between that data.
I've been memorising some poetry lately just to give my memory a work out and I find that some poems I can learn much quicker than other, not because of the length but the content and logical flow of its structure.
I've noticed that poems where I can link the lines and verse together in some way are memorised in half the time.

For example, I memorised Robert Frost's stopping by woods on a snowy evening quicker than most other poems because I observed that it is structured thus:
Verse 1: Location
Verse 2: Horse's perspective
Verse 3: Character's observation of the sounds around him
verse 4: What he sees before moving on.

And so I can remember then verses more easily because the structure ties it together.

The illusion that we "think in language" is one of the first things I have to demolish in my acting instruction.

You have a good point. The concept or idea exist before the words are formed.
The question is though, if the words are only an addition to the idea then why do we use words at all when thinking? Why can't we simply remember the idea or initial concept and assign words later if they are needed? The use of language when thinking seems to help clarify raw thoughts into more definable, tangible 'things'. Perhaps it is habit to translate to words when thinking?

This is actually an interesting proposition; why don't we just allow idea's to remain in their most basic form until they need to be communicated? Why do we need 'mental speech' at all when not communicating with others?

I wonder what life would be like if our minds were not clogged by thoughts and words... Explains why Buddhists are so happy lol

Chris :-)

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:36 pm

but if you imagine a blue car, and I tell you to crush that car into a fist-sized ball, eat half of it, and flatten the rest into your shirt pocket, you can do it as easily as snapping your fingers. You'd probably even be able to tell me what it tastes like

tastes bad, metallic with a hint of paint. Ugh.
Still have the aftertaste in my mouth. lol :)

BigRed
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Postby BigRed » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:10 pm

Wrong! It tastes pepperminty/chocolatey! :roll:

BigRed
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Postby BigRed » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:14 pm

The concept or idea exist before the words are formed.

The question is though, if the words are only an addition to the idea then why do we use words at all when thinking? Why can't we simply remember the idea or initial concept and assign words later if they are needed? The use of language when thinking seems to help clarify raw thoughts into more definable, tangible 'things'. Perhaps it is habit to translate to words when thinking?

This is actually an interesting proposition; why don't we just allow idea's to remain in their most basic form until they need to be communicated? Why do we need 'mental speech' at all when not communicating with others?


Funny thing is: This is exactly what the traditional speed-reading courses, such as evelyn wood, teach.

Some of the newer courses attempt to teach "photographic memory" but I don't know much about them. Hopefully they aren't all "floaty, esoteric, hippyish, hynotic snake oil" like the one the OP described. Perhaps the less legitimate ones are.

However, the guy who holds the Guiness Book record for speed reading actually developed a course along these lines. I assume that he's legit, but I could be wrong.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:28 am

I suspect we do allow ideas to remain languageless until they need to be communicated. I would not be at all surprised to discover that we do not think in words unless we are deliberately communicating to ourselves. That's the unanswerable question-- because when we are paying attention to our thought process, we must communicate that process to ourselves, and it must therefore be words (or sensory imagery). When we are not paying attention, it need not be words.. but is it? There's no way to know, because we aren't observing it.

lorelei
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Postby lorelei » Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:15 am

aruffo wrote:I suspect we do allow ideas to remain languageless until they need to be communicated. I would not be at all surprised to discover that we do not think in words unless we are deliberately communicating to ourselves. That's the unanswerable question-- because when we are paying attention to our thought process, we must communicate that process to ourselves, and it must therefore be words (or sensory imagery). When we are not paying attention, it need not be words.. but is it? There's no way to know, because we aren't observing it.

Interesting thought!
Is there any way to test this (i.e. neural imaging or something like that)


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