23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Amazing yet badly researched book, 12 Dec 2006
I have lots of very particular things to say about this book so brace your self for a bit of a read. I almost want to give this book two separate reviews - one with 5 stars and one with a lot less. When I first bought this book, I found the "major memory system" pretty advanced so I read `Use your memory' and then came back to this. The memory systems in both are great and they have assisted me in numerous feats, like remembering pin numbers and passing exams, and I think Mr. Buzan has provided a great wealth of knowledge to the world. However I find some of the claims a bit lofty and I have a number of criticisms.
1. I have a very bad basic memory and haven't found that it has improved much at all. I think you need a good basic memory before you can `Master your memory'. I have personally found the claims that memory training can improve your basic memory to be untrue (even though I do believe in the overall idea that brain excercise is very beneficial).
With lots of hard work and practice I have memorised all the countries, capitals and currencies of the world, details about 100 painters/paintings, 100 Spanish words, Pi to 1000 decimal places, and the Periodic table of elements. This is actually fun in an odd way and kind of addictive too. It is also a great way to pass time on the bus, or keep your brain occupied while waiting for the bus. However, I still have a very bad basic memory (e.g. I just had to look up what that thing with all the chemical elements was called!)
2. I wouldn't dream of trying to memorize a phone number on the spot. I'd still grab a pen. Again I think you need a good basic memory to hold it in your head long enough to use a memory system to memorize it. And memorizing a shopping list or something trivial just isn't worth the work most times.
3. The system isn't that good that once it's in your head, it stays there forever. I have to practice those lists over and over and by the time I've got to the end of one list again I've forgotten the others! Maybe I could be using the system better but again I think you need a good basic memory before you can `Master your memory'.
4. There is a flaw in the system which makes me question the claim that it is used in the same way by memory champions. The lists in the book go from 1 to 100. Yet the major system makes much more sense to memorize lists of from 0 to 99, as they are associated with something completely different for every 100.
5. I got the 2003 edition, and the lists to memorize are terribly flawed. I didn't think too much of it until I flicked through the 2006 edition and noticed that these lists still haven't been corrected! Did they just change the cover? This should be pocket money for Mr. Buzan to pay a researcher. I could provide a thorough list myself for most of them!
- A lot of the paintings are in different places, have different titles, artist details are wrong.
- The periodic table is missing several elements and some were renamed decades ago.
- I had to add about 30 countries to the list (and delete several countries that no longer exist) from the excellent Oxford A-Z of countries.
- Reading another review I only now realize the Spanish list is also flawed.
This all may seem very pedantic but it's bad enough (spending years at this stage) trying to memorize lists of trivia not only to try and improve your basic memory but also to gain knowledge only to discover a huge amount of it is wrong. Even an up to date resource area on a website would be good.
The plus side to all this is that through the research, I have gained a much bigger interest in the areas I have memorized, particularly painters. I've always had an intereset but now have a huge thirst for more knowledge of history of art. I have since read tons of art books and I have searched and downloaded images for the 100s of paintings (although a few don't seem to exist). And the lists do provide a great `peg of memory' to hang that information (I never get an art question wrong when University challenge is on).
In summary Tony Buzan's books are brilliant and I'm glad they have invaded my head, but research the lists before you memorize them and if you have a bad day to day memory don't expect any miracles. I do realize that different people have as different brains from each other as they do bodies so the latter may not be true for everyone.
4 Stars for the knowledge
1 for bad research