Memory Sports

Since the early nineties, people have been competing at feats of memory in events like the World Memory Championships. The top contenders seem to be Britons and Germans of either sex. Record holder Ben Pridmore once memorized a random pack of cards in 26 seconds, 27 random packs of cards in an hour, and 3915 random bits in half an hour.

This, to me, is at least as impressive as running 100 meters in 10 seconds. Unfortunately, in today’s world with its paper and its search engines, it doesn’t seem much more useful. I would hesitate to call mnemonics a meaningful form of intelligence augmentation. Still, it’s always fun to see brains do something you thought they couldn’t.

If you’re curious about the techniques involved, Mentat Wiki has a good overview.