Mnemonics were a closely guarded "parlor-trick" of card counters,
mesmerists/mentalists and magicians. Perhaps Golfera and his family
are more genetically inclined in this feat. But my guess is that they
are somewhat gifted, but mostly "putting one over" - Randi - where are
you?. But the basic concept can be learned by anyone. On a whim, I
once impressed my co-workers by memorizing a spoken list of 50 items
(including phone numbers). The "bun, shoe, tree" number pigeon holes
are easy enough. The creative challenge to to link the list with each
memory association in a way that is graphic, novel or, (best of all),
shocking. The mind tends to retain and recall the novel, bizarre and
shocking more easily. At least my mind does!
I was an amateur mentalist (self-published with good reviews). I had a
half dozen memory systems in place when I was performing. The irony
is: you have to consciously REMEMBER to USE your MEMORY system! (It's
kind of like saying "I forgot to take my ginkgo again!") When other
hobbies came along, the memory systems went POOF! I would have to
review my notes to attempt those feats again.
> It seems difficult (well, based on not enough information) to distinguish
> whether this Golfera had an exceptional automatic ability, or simply came up
> and applied conscious memory systems, such as those used by mnemonists, like
> the legendary Shereshevsky (who was apparently synaesthetic, which worked ,
> maybe this person was too).
>> It also leads me to wonder if training your memory with conscious systems
> (associative, symbolic imagery and such...) improves overall memory about
> the thing you're trying to memorise... I was testing a really basic system,
> where you pick 10 words rhyming with the numbers from one to ten (bun, shoe,
> tree, door... etc) and visually link them with the object/word you want to
> I got someone to write a list of 10 things, and they did, but he purposely
> scribbled one of the words and wrote something else (presumably he was
> trying to be tricky, which is good!).
> When I started going through the list having memorised them, having only
> memorised the newer bit, I was able to see fairly clearly the number, and
> the scribbled out word, and the new word, which impressed us both.
> Then again, I can't remember any of the list now :)
>> Anyway, enough rambling :)