Daniel Tammet

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6 May, 2014 - 15:52
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I found another interesting article from April 2013:

Though he was familiar with savants with certain similar skills, Dr Treffert said there was no direct mind reading case as such that has come to his notice.

“So I would clearly classify Nandana as a savant with a very rare skill among savants. In my savant registry of 319 savants, one percent reported ‘paranormal’ abilities such as ESP (extra sensory perception) and Psi (parapsychology). However none reported telepathy or mind reading of the type Nandana exhibits.”

...With reference to their doubts related to Nandana’s skill and its clinical implications, Dr Treffert said: “I don’t know what implications telepathy might have for her right brain/left brain dynamics since it has been seen so rarely. Perhaps imaging studies might give some clues but those studies are probably quite far off.

"Seen so rarely"? James Randi offers a $1m prize for even just one case of ESP.

In another thread (Savantism and Memory Competitions) we were discussing whether Treffert had ever retracted the claims about ESP, but apparently not, since he points to it in 2013:

Dr. Darold A. Treffert, who is dubbed the godfather of savant syndrome research, posted the article with the following note on March 28, 2013:
Extraordinary telepathy as a savant skill

In our 2010 savant syndrome registry, which included 319 savants worldwide, paranormal, psi or related phenomenon were reported in 1% of cases. Now comes this article titled “Miracle Girl” by Sajila Saseendran from the Khaleej Times, Dubai, which documents in unusual detail the telepathic ability of a 9-year-old girl to read her mother’s mind. The article also cites a letter from child psychiatry specialists in Sunny Specialty Medical Center in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, certifying witnessing “the strength of Nandana to read her mother’s thoughts, desires and intentions.”

This is the most highly documented case of this extraordinarily rare savant skill that has come to my attention.

Interestingly, in 1978 Dr. Bernie Rimland reported 561 cases (approximately 10%) of savant syndrome in his sample of 5400 autistic children, based on parent reports. Parents of 4 of these 561 savants reported that their child had extrasensory perception. I describe this finding in more detail in my book Extraordinary People, pages 127-128 and in my 1988 review paper.

I'll keep an open mind about ESP, but I want to see someone claim that million dollars first. So far, charlatans and mentalists outnumber proven psychics by many thousands (millions?) to zero, so I think that a scientist's default position on ESP should be skepticism. :)

7 May, 2014 - 07:55
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Tammet had also offered mentalist services before but now says he just did it to make money. Of the few savants, a significant number additionally claim or have claimed mentalist abilities.

25 May, 2014 - 18:09
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His unusual tale has been put into an autobiography, "Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel." The book, released in April, has garnered international attention with stories in People and Entertainment Weekly magazines and features on "CBS This Morning," "Nightline" and dozens of other media outlets.

Savage beating rewired man's brain, making him a savant

"Curves are an illusion, created by relativity," Padgett said. He can discuss the uncertainty principal, calculus, the Doppler effect and relativity in an almost nonstop manner.

"How do you create a perfect circle?" Padgett asked a recent visitor to his home. He then picked up a paper and began to draw. By creating a series of overlapping right angles a circle slowly emerged - made entirely without drawing any curved lines.

28 May, 2014 - 05:14
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robnonstop wrote:

"How do you create a perfect circle?" Padgett asked a recent visitor to his home. He then picked up a paper and began to draw. By creating a series of overlapping right angles a circle slowly emerged - made entirely without drawing any curved lines.

This media coverage of Padgett is nonsense and looks to me like a desperate attempt to make it look like his drawings require special mysterious savant skills, when actually most of his drawings are technically straightforward (if extremely time consuming and tedious).

The assertion that he draws the circle without any curved lines doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. There's a "Making of video" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rVL6ZSIRbA

Look closely and you can clearly see that before he draws the straight lines, there is a perfectly curved, faint circle, which must have been drawn with a pair of compasses. He clearly uses compasses a lot in his other drawings, in which the curves are also clearly visible. It's also clear from his writings and the "making of" videos that all of his drawings are done in pencil, with the colour added later in Photoshop - something else that is not mentioned in the media.

28 July, 2014 - 12:36
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I don't know if it was mentioned somewhere yet, but Darold Treffert has a new article in Scientific American called, Tapping your inner Rain Man.

A blow to the head can sometimes unmask hidden artistic or intellectual gifts

And it gets picked up in another article under the title, Instant Genius after Head Trauma.

31 July, 2014 - 12:38
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Somewhat related, can children with Autism lose the traits completely, should they?
The Kids Who Beat Autism

31 July, 2014 - 16:08
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Our culture is full of "hype"

Lebron James is called "King" because he can put a round ball into a metal hoop
Kobe Bryant was accused of rape and admitted to extramarital sex and still had the number 1 sport jersey sales in the NBA
Elvis is the "King of rock n roll" and died after having "more than 10,000 doses of narcotics, amphetamines, and sedatives" prescribed to him in a likely drug related death at the age of 42
Micheal Jackson also died from a drug overdose at the age of 50

Pro wrestling has 50,000,000 viewers per week
David Copperfield is a multi millionaire

People are fascinated by the seemingly supernormal people who excel in events that might be seen as trivial by others

I personally am fascinated by anyone who can excel

If Daniel Tammet was #4 at the World Memory Championship, awesome

If he says he can associate colors and numbers, there are several possibilities:

He has Synesthesia
He has trained so hard for so long that he can actually see colors and has convinced himself that he has synesthesia
He is lying and gets so much positive reinforcement from the media and others that he continues to perpetuate the myth

I don't care if he is an idiot savant, has Synesthesia, autism, OCD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, etc.

I think his story makes more people interested in memory sport

My personal belief is that all of the top guys in any sport/activity have:

A gift or trait that gives them a slight edge PLUS
Dedication PLUS
Time to practice PLUS
Technique

only then can a person truly excel and become the best in the world

Take away any of those four factors and the top guys become merely above average

4 November, 2014 - 23:08
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Lots of good information and contemplation in this thread (yes, I read everything). Many thanks to Josh Cohen, Tomasyi and Alex for many illuminating posts.

My favorite part was the ABC YouTube video where a the narrator explains how "In a normal brain, different parts don't talk to each other." I hope you were not sipping your coffee.

I see a lot of healthy skepticism, but also the bandwagon effect. Let's do our best not to hop on it. There's no war against anyone.

Some of the skepticism does cross the line for me though, namely questioning the genuineness of some people's personal accounts of their own inner experiences. Ridiculing Tammet's descriptions of how he perceives numbers, for example, is a bit asinine and seems to me to be akin to a group of people who never remembered a dream in their life making fun of someone explaining in detail what he experienced last night.

A lot of exaggerated skepticism toward natural memory ability too. I get it that some of you were only requesting evidence of feats that could not be performed after lots of practice, but that's kind of a rigged game isn't it? Given a lifetime and undivided attention, I suppose the argument could be made that anyone could at least theoretically achieve the level of proficiency at an arbitrary mental task equaling that of another, negligibly trained but naturally talented individual. That's not the point though, and skepticism isn't the only functional building block of science - we also need curiosity. I think a healthy balance between skepticism and imagination is needed for a scientific mind to produce fruit, so let us be skeptic but also stretch ourselves and our understanding further instead of just reading papers and rushing to binary conclusions.

Then some skepticism and thoughts of my own:

I don't buy the sketchy tests for synaesthesia that Ramachandran had Daniel take. How many shapes did Tammet sculpt in total? If it was only 10 or less it's perfectly conceivable that a person could pass such a test without using memory techniques whatsoever, with only a day between sculpting and questioning. Unannounced re-enquiries are commonplace tactics in cognitive tests, and I think Tammet being intelligent it's more than probable he was expecting the "pop quiz." Weak circumstantial evidence at best.

It is my understanding that synaesthesia has neurological basis and is caused by cross-activation of senses. If this is true, would not an fMRI scan be an obvious way to detect it? Have such tests been done on Tammet, or anyone else boasting high memory capacity without training in techniques?

What Tammet is describing may or may not be a truthful depiction of his inner experience, but given the benefit of doubt, did it occur to anyone that he's not experiencing cross-activation of senses but merely strong associations? What is a strong association anyway, if not cross-activation from one idea, object or sensory experience to another? I would guess such a pseudo-synaesthesia would show differently in a brain scan.

I'm walking into a potential minefield here, but since words such as "fraud" and "scam" have been used and - more importantly - evidence and reasoning strongly implicating their justification has been presented, I'll just have to ask: Did anyone consider the possibility that Tammet is mildly schizophrenic? Maybe the ability to believe your own bullshit is a defining quality that distinguishes master charlatans who are able to build and maintain alternate identities and realities on timescale of years, from the petty scammers.

Maybe Tammet actually experiences in his mind what he claims, but synaesthesia isn't the only available explanation. Regardless of the etiology behind his images, you really don't need much imagination to see how such imagery might occur for some people. What I personally don't believe is the claim that he's using it to do arithmetic to produce exact results to dozens of digits. That's where my imagination bends and snaps. Your mileage may vary. There is still the possibility that when he's performing mental calculations, the experience of visual imagery becomes entwined with processing the steps of the calculation to an extent that they become inseparable. Maybe this happens to just a sufficient degree for him to believe that the images are working some kind of magic, although they're just another reflection of what's going on and not the original image of the process itself. In any such case, it would be unfair to call him a liar, and even if he is, he is his biggest victim.

You also really don't need much imagination to see how - for whatever arbitrary reasons - spontaneously experiencing strong associations or cross-activation of senses could effectively help create stronger memory marks. It would be like a heightened state of awareness in context of your internal representation of reality. Maybe you're aware of the phenomenon "the more you know, the easier it is to recall" when e.g. studying a scholar subject, because cross-references and relationships between the leaves and branches of a body of information give concrete form to the general picture as well as create the relational space for details to exist in, thereby strengthening them by association. Effectively what's happening in a synaesthete's brain is the forming of a broader and more intense sensory burn mark. Just adding one dimension of sensation might have a profoundly positive effect on the ability to retain part of the experience in memory, i.e. more and/or stronger neural branches. I presume you all use some sort of PAO and Loci systems already, so I don't understand the skepticism. You're with preparation and conscious effort using the visual and spatial parts of your brain to remember arbitrary data, now understand that some people's brains spontaneously generate such augmentative contexts and imagine how such an experience in its continuity could allow for the intensity peaks of the memories to link together to form something like a journey (maybe the loci aren't as discrete, maybe all the "snapshots" aren't equally strong, maybe recall isn't always as consistent, etc.) There's nothing to prove or debunk here, it's a reality and very simple logic.

Accordingly, it's not difficult to see how people with a specific synaesthesia might be good at remembering certain kind of information, and not so good at remembering other kinds of information. Maybe they have arbitrary emotional attachments to certain sensory experiences, and certain symbols, sounds or shapes - or combinations thereof - evoke a different emotional response, furthermore affecting retaining of the memories. It is also easy to imagine how such individuals might actually have difficulty learning an encoding system for information that goes contrary to their spontaneously emerging inner experiences, and why they might feel it strenuous and unnecessary to create any such "artificial" system because of their [dis]ability.

On topic of natural prodigious memory; prodigies are not a novel fad thing made up by the postmodern sensationalist media, they always existed. There are kids who can commit to memory vast amounts of information, i.e. complex musical works in real-time. Does everyone seriously think that all the child prodigies employ memory techniques too?

A challenge: What techniques would you apply to replicate Stephen Wiltshire's memory feats?

5 November, 2014 - 03:48
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Tammet was one of the better contestants when it came to remembering faces, then claimed he had trouble remembering faces, after he started the autism claims. All the contestants are already better than the average person, to be one of the best of the best and then claim to be worse than the average person is highly unbelievable.

As his competitors said, he wasn’t good enough in all fields, so he had to make up the story and it worked. Some more skepticism is appropriate. If the best performers have magical talent, which I doubt, he’s still just 4th while the first 3 don’t claim anything similar.

In terms of getting people interested in mnemonic techniques, he gave up trying to teach people how to. When I first saw the “documentary” on him, I had no idea about the techniques he really uses.

Instead he says you have to be a special snowflake and if you have no talent, sucks to be you, but maybe you have some other talents. He is the opposite of Ed Cooke who wants to see other people challenge themselves. Tammet tells you what you want to hear, so you don’t have to try.

Thousands of YouTube comments along the lines of “I wish I could do that but I have no talent LOL” indicate the dangerous effect of this conman’s claims.

Why are Japanese students better at math than Americans? Because the Japanese students know it’s not based on talent. It’s what you put in. Tammet’s message is counterproductive.
9 of 10 Japanese students believe success depends on effort

5 November, 2014 - 05:00
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When I said I read the whole thread I meant it. You're giving me a summary that I don't need.

robnonstop wrote:

As his competitors said, he wasn’t good enough in all fields, so he had to make up the story and it worked.

This is just extrapolation though. We could assassinate his character all day and night, but what is there to gain? Let's separate the speculation from facts. Tammet might be an autist, an acquired savant who lied about using memory techniques, a deliberately constructed caricature and an ambitious con-artist, a mnemotechnician who lied about being autistic, suffering from multiple identity disorder or just plain gone mad (F20.666: Batshit Crazy NOS). Let's just keep it clear when we move from the realm of facts to trying to - rather creatively - explain the discrepancies between facts and the official story and public image of Tammet. Why do you seem to be so invested in making judgments on Tammet's person? What motivates you to write so appallingly about him and other people of the "same trade" and what makes you a noteworthy source on judging their character?

Example of yet more venomous words:

Quote:

If the best performers have magical talent, which I doubt, he’s still just 4th while the first 3 don’t claim anything similar.

1. Use patronizing rhetoric to belittle giftedness; "magical talent" - there, neutralized.
2. Belittle his accomplishment of the 4th place; "still just 4th"

Then, you say "the first 3 don't claim anything similar", the point of which I don't quite understand. If he used no techniques and placed 4th, would that make him a complete loser? Note that I'm not claiming he didn't use techniques, quite the contrary. I'm just wondering what the point you're trying to make would be.

Quote:

Instead he says you have to be a special snowflake and if you have no talent, sucks to be you

Or is this what you're hearing? Sounds to me an awful lot like crab mentality. Again I agree with what you said about the potential (and quite apparent, as you demonstrated) negative social effect, but I feel there's something else besides betterment of humanity driving you to speak in such foul tone about a bunch of people you actually don't know.

Quote:

Tammet tells you what you want to hear, so you don’t have to try.

I don't think anyone wants to think they can't do this. Let me rephrase that: I don't think anyone who has even a speck of stereotypical male ambition wants to think they will forever be so vastly inferior in ability to someone else. It's just something you learn to cope with when your perspective broadens and you realize just how able and skilled some people in this world are. I don't think it becomes something you want. We acquire the savant ability to come up with an endless stream of much more pragmatic rationalizations for avoiding self-development. Some people may even genuinely feel they lack the time and energy for learning to become Kim Peek Wannabe #230948.

I think the fascination with that which is mysterious and inexplicable is a much more compelling explanation for people's willingness to believe in super geniuses.

Quote:

Thousands of YouTube comments along the lines of “I wish I could do that but I have no talent LOL” indicate the dangerous effect of this conman’s claims.

I do feel it's a pity that Tammet's apparent motherload of bull is putting people off from discovering they can train their memory to perform feats they'd initially deem impossible, but I think you're exaggerating the effect and your concern sounds disingenuous considering how much pleasure you seem to derive from denigrating these people - were they "special snowflakes" or not. Someone who can't be bothered by his own incentive to seek more information on savant syndrome and eventually find himself on articles describing memory techniques isn't one who would be likely to commit to learning the techniques anyway, even if Tammet promoted them. They might learn one example shopping list and ditch the technique as too much work, "I'll just use my smartphone."

Japanese people's attitudes toward achievement has to do with a little more than just a few Tammets or Cookes giving their de/motivational speeches.

6 November, 2014 - 10:03
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I never understood the point of vehemently arguing that one doesn’t care about a specific topic in a specific thread on said topic.

Kannas wrote:

what is there to gain?

Stopping others from jumping on this bandwaggon, releasing their own books with similar made up stories and gradually increasing the perceived number of such cases. This is already happening, as demonstrated by another fake savant who specifically named Tammet.

When scientists speak of a few cases in the whole world they include Tammet. These people make up all of those cases. Every single additional made up medical case matters, we are moving away from the correct number (0) to more and more.

Split personalities are a similar topic. Look at stories on Roswell Aliens, Bigfoot etc. the more false information remains the faster new fabricated stories are added by newcomers. If it doesn’t bother you, no problem, but what’s your point?

Kannas wrote:

Then, you say "the first 3 don't claim anything similar", the point of which I don't quite understand.

The claim was made that the best have special gifts. He was not the best and the ones better than him (back then when the competition was much lower than now) did insist they had no special gifts.

Therefore the claim that the best have special gifts does not apply here, he was not the best, literally. So if anything, the 4th best has a special gift while those even better don’t. Therefore training makes it possible to outperform those with rare special talent. And then of course there is the additional interesting fact that it’s not true. Interesting to some of us at least.

Kannas wrote:

Or is this what you're hearing?

Or is this what you’re ignoring?
You are unaware of the material he has put out after changing his marketing strategy and story completely.

Read it. The message is clear, no interpretation necessary: Either you have the talent or not, find your own talent, everyone is special. The exact opposite of “everyone can learn this”. You already stated you see nothing wrong with this so no need to comment on it again.

You also don’t seem to care that he makes statements about how people with severe autistic traits (he probably never had) can just stop them at will, sending a clear message to parents of children with autistic traits on an internationally broadcasted TV show. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I don’t share yours and if I explain again why, you will complain about getting an unwanted summary, filling this thread with useless arguments. Instead let’s focus on the savants’ claims and whether they make sense.

Kannas wrote:

I don't think anyone wants to think they can't do this.

Lack of talent is a widespread and comfortable excuse for not wanting to do the hard work with the results I already demonstrated. He plays into this idea unlike the younger version of him who strove to teach people what he can do. I don’t see the point of arguing about this.

I get advertising for his book regularly from a science publisher that sends out physical newsletters once a month in Germany. This story and false claims are spreading internationally. I don’t like the comfortable attitude he supports with his newer claims. If nobody wanted to hear his false claims, his books wouldn’t sell.

On the other hand he is very smart and his story can be seen as a case study for marketing. So I find his accomplishments both impressive and questionable like most famous conmen. I suspected others would follow his lead and we already have found one. So the concern was justified.

I enjoyed movies such as Catch Me If You Can and documentaries/interviews with famous conmen. They always have a sad tragic event or circumstance that started their journey, so I doubt he has it easy or just does this out of greed. There are certainly worse people in this world and it’s none of my business what drives him to do what he does.

6 November, 2014 - 22:39
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robnonstop wrote:

I never understood the point of vehemently arguing that one doesn’t care about a specific topic in a specific thread on said topic.

This is a thread about Daniel Tammet, yes. A lot has been said about the subject of this discussion - a lot of facts and opinions. What I've read on this thread has already made me change my views on both Tammet and perhaps the phenomenon of savantism, and I thank everyone who did the work for me and dug up that information. I think a number of people did so in a very scientific and neutral way, in an effort to form a realistic picture of what and who Tammet really is and what he can do.

I don't want it to devolve into person bashing. Inquisitive behavior brings the worst out of us social animals, and it tends to get ugly fast. People constantly look for ways to push them up in the social hierarchy in order to boost their serotonin and lower their cortisol levels. A common enemy binds people together like nothing else and quickly becomes an instrument of circle-jerking and further strengthens that "us" vs. "them" attitude and atmosphere. Denigrating the "enemy" fuels the collective narcissism of the group and at the end of that ugly road is dehumanization. Let's not pave the road there - it's always nearer than everyone thinks.

We don't know for certain what goes and did go on in the minds of these people that you call "fake savants". I honestly didn't even know that was a thing, but you learn something new every day. If Tammet really experienced epileptic seizures when he was a child, that's another thing to take into consideration. Temporal lobe epilepsy has been associated with experiencing religious visions. Do you know what Tammet experienced, or what his world view is like, or how he perceives and reasons about reality? Maybe his perception on reality, the models for truth, and/or his entire identity are more fluid than yours. Can you empathize? Maybe he actually believes in everything he says. Think about that for a second.

If you think Tammet is exhibiting malicious behavior, provide proof and discuss it. Don't be an agitator and devalue a group of people accompanied with some handwaving and generalizations. You wouldn't want every single exceptionally gifted person who gains their fifteen minutes of fame to be greeted with torches & pitchforks, would you?

Just for the record: My current view on Tammet is roughly that he's somewhere between an outright liar and severely dissociated. I care enough to having read through this thread, but not enough to do extensive research myself. I'm happy not having certainty of his exact condition, because I don't feel the need to judge him as a person.

robnonstop wrote:
Kannas wrote:

what is there to gain?

Stopping others from jumping on this bandwaggon, releasing their own books with similar made up stories and gradually increasing the perceived number of such cases.

The question "what is there to gain" succeeded the notion that we could assassinate his character all day and night. I never meant to imply that exposing charlatans is a waste of time - it isn't. I just think that jumping to conclusions and making entertainment out of speculating on the inner world of Tammet or anyone else claiming to have exceptional abilities is mostly unsubstantiated and petty.

robnonstop wrote:

Every single additional made up medical case matters, we are moving away from the correct number (0) to more and more.

Do we have a topic yet for pretend-savants? Maybe there should be one, so as not to clutter this thread with "off-topic" as well as make it look like all these other people are cases for or against Tammet's authenticity.

What do you base the number 0 on? Are you serious or joking? What category does the number represent exactly? "Acquired" savants? Using the word "correct" there would have one think you have some basis for your claim. Can you expand on it? I'm very interested in these cases of acquired savantism myself (I have a hammer ready). If you can link to solid critical material I'd appreciate it.

robnonstop wrote:

Split personalities are a similar topic. Look at stories on Roswell Aliens, Bigfoot etc. the more false information remains the faster new fabricated stories are added by newcomers.

Since we're deviating even further from the topic at hand I guess I can give a recommendation of my own if you're into researching similar cases: Check out Amanda Baggs.

robnonstop wrote:

The claim was made that the best have special gifts.

Made by whom, when and where? Although I did read the entire thing it's entirely possible that I missed this.

robnonstop wrote:

He was not the best and the ones better than him (back then when the competition was much lower than now) did insist they had no special gifts.

So what? I would still find it amazing and inspirational if somebody were able to compete with trained mnemonists without employing the techniques. That they haven't consistently destroyed their competition is in no way a justification for devaluing their talent. Besides, did you even consider the possibility that the competition settings and the events may not be the best way to bring out some people's innate abilities? Maybe one reason for people becoming better and better at memory sports is the fact that they practice things like encoding decks of cards or strings of digits into arbitrary visual and spatial code for years. I'm taking nothing away from these people's accomplishments, but not recognizing some people's innate abilities is downright stupid and denialist. I do think that people who top the lists in memory competitions must have natural ability as well, but it may also be very specific kind of talents that these skills of the people in the top tier rely on, and may or may not be nothing like the talent of those who have an innate ability to store vast amounts of information in their brains without conscious effort. Just because both can take the same objective benchmarks and achieve impressive results (in eyes of the untrained or ungifted), doesn't mean that their brains process the same, or that one is "better" than the other. Chimpanzees' performance at short-term memory tasks dwarf ours. Can you ever train to beat them? Probably not. Why could not another human being then also have innate ability that you can never gain? All you can learn to do is mimic how it manifests on the surface - e.g. memorize the same book using Loci that Kim Peek memorized by staring at it - but as I see it, no amount of deck-memorization will help you draw your childhood home from memory, for instance.

robnonstop wrote:

The message is clear, no interpretation necessary: Either you have the talent or not, find your own talent, everyone is special.

Can you link to some of such material? I've watched a lot of Tammet's videos and I never got the same message as you. As you suspected, I haven't been checking on him lately so I'm oblivious as to what he is up to these days.

robnonstop wrote:

You already stated you see nothing wrong with this so no need to comment on it again.

What are you talking about?

I specifically said:

1. I agree with what you said about the potential negative social effect
2. I feel it's a pity Tammet's savant PR puts people off from learning memotechniques

robnonstop wrote:

You also don’t seem to care that he makes statements about how people with severe autistic traits (he probably never had) can just stop them at will, sending a clear message to parents of children with autistic traits on an internationally broadcasted TV show.

If I need a bio I'll write it myself, thank you. You can stop spreading disinformation about my concerns. The way you misinterpret me is starting to seem deliberate. Did you even read what I actually wrote? Just for the record; I do care. I'm not a callous person. I wouldn't object to ridiculing and demonizing people if I were. You can show caring simply by putting this information out here and saying what needs to be said. If you want to be a social justice warrior you could just make information available to people, you don't need to tell them exactly how to interpret it. I tried to provide some alternative views into matters, besides just chewing the cud.

I'd like to see that video clip. Can you link it to me? It would definitely be a bad influence, but not necessarily a sign of malice or irresponsibility if he actually believes he's autistic and "overcame" it. I don't know the inner workings of his psyche, but I have no hesitation to call anyone out for spreading misinformation.

robnonstop wrote:

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I don’t share yours and if I explain again why, you will complain about getting an unwanted summary, filling this thread with useless arguments. Instead let’s focus on the savants’ claims and whether they make sense.

Your first "summary" didn't even address my post, it was just an attack against Tammet. What comes to my opinions, you've already shown your assessments on them aren't very reliable.

robnonstop wrote:

Lack of talent is a widespread and comfortable excuse for not wanting to do the hard work with the results I already demonstrated.

I think you're making a big fuss out of nothing. Somebody who uses lack of talent as an excuse, doesn't need other excuses. I'd be more concerned with the children of post-war generations growing unrealistic expectations and our [Western] culture's obsession with celebrities and stardom. I think "everyone having some talent" is a bad message as well - a better one would be "you don't need to be special, and I will still validate you." The whole "every child is a potential genius" is an inflammatory concept. The world is certainly not lacking in geniuses - it's lacking in application of common sense.

6 November, 2014 - 23:56
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Kannas, you said: "I do think that people who top the lists in memory competitions must have natural ability as well".

This statement shows that you either do not understand the subject well enough to pose and argument or that you are a troll.

This also shows the difference between you and the other people on this thread. The other people have done their research and that is why nobody is concerned in the slightest when it comes to your argument of the threat of legal action, because it is not a threat.

You have contradicted yourself repeatedly, then gone on to say that you want other people to do the research for you, as if you some how have empathy, then arguing that you agree the opposite. I have spent many years doing this research, but I am certainly not going to hand it over to you, and every other person that trolls the internet, because they cannot be bothered to learn, yet expect others to do their work for them.

Other people here have done their research as well, if you expect answers, go to another part of the forum and learn memory techniques, then come back and pose arguments. We will be happy to help you and prove you wrong in your statement which I quoted you in, in the first line I wrote.

There are numerous things that are not mentioned in the thread, but as you said, a threat of legal proceedings could happen. Chance favours the prepared mind, not the fake mind. So don't hold you breath for free information and other people's time, as I suspect they will feel that you might have to spend a few years studying the subject intensely, just as they did, before they came to this thread. Indeed it is the reason they came to this thread 'after' they understood and 'knew the facts'.

Also, moaning about personal attacks then trying to do the same to Robnstop is futuile. Goading people here into giving away all the details of their research by trying to agrue against logic, proof and science is a waste of time. Remember, the people in the memory community 'know' Tammet, and they know how memory works, they know the difference between the variety of conditions that Tammet has claimed to have and they know that the only way to help people that either have the conditions for real and help those that do no, is to show the truth.

Incidentally, there are people that genuininely have these conditions that compete and are, like Tammet/Corney, in the world rankings. They also use techniques however, and are open and honest about it. There are numerous others that are fakes. We know who they are too, but they are often vulnerable people, who in many cases have been taken advantage of by someone who saw the opportunity, just as Tammet did, so we have no intention of discussing them.

ps. Yes, Tammet has undergone a brain scan. He failed it. That's enough detail for you to do your own research. You will only understand the results after you understand how your memory works and why it works in that way.

pps. If what is claimed by Tammet is not damaging, how is it that he can go on national television because he can, supposedly do things that are remarkable and cannot be done by others' ? If you heard some of the past so called 'scientists' making this claim, and your child also heard it, would you expect you child to believe the 'scientists' ? The answer is obvious, even if you are Daniel, but are just looking for a way around the truth for the next book. After all, what is better than to go to those who can prove you to be a liar, then find their proof and think of a new way around it ?

ppps. The memory community is like a family, and as such, Daniel has and is welcome to rejoin that family, but must either undergo tests by scientists proposed by them and either: a) apoligise publicly, then change his ways or, b) the memory community will apologise publicly. Like any family, arguments will happen and member will fall out. Some will become black sheep for a while, then get older and learn the error of their ways. Daniel knows where to find us and vice versa.

pppps. To tell a person that you can achieve something because you are gifted, when other people that are not gifted can achieve the same thing by training, is inherently misleading, regardless. The aim of the memory community is to give people the opportunity create the confidence in themselves to be able to change their lives, pass exams, climb out of poverty and help others to do the same. Tammet does the opposite.

7 November, 2014 - 03:22
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Dai Griffiths wrote:

Kannas, you said: "I do think that people who top the lists in memory competitions must have natural ability as well".

This statement shows that you either do not understand the subject well enough to pose and argument or that you are a troll.

First of all, I did start with "I do think ..." - this kind of leaves me room for a gracious retreat in case I'm mistaken.

You could have just presented arguments, I'm sure you must have some considering your pronounced confidence.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

This also shows the difference between you and the other people on this thread. The other people have done their research

So what do I not know, that others know? The latest news on Tammet's antics? You're right about that, if he has indeed been actively propagating the message of being a "special snowflake" and that autism can be "grown out of" (paraphrased), it would be news to me. I'm open to new information.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

and that is why nobody is concerned in the slightest when it comes to your argument of the threat of legal action, because it is not a threat.

Context being..?

Dai Griffiths wrote:

You have contradicted yourself repeatedly

Where?

Dai Griffiths wrote:

then gone on to say that you want other people to do the research for you, as if you some how have empathy, then arguing that you agree the opposite.

As if that's a despicable thing. Like I said I don't care enough to do "extensive research" myself, but enough that I would read through this thread. "Extensive" is kind of a relative term isn't it, some people could say reading through seven pages of posts on one person fills the criteria, for me it doesn't.

I simply don't understand the latter half of that paragraph.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

I have spent many years doing this research, but I am certainly not going to hand it over to you, and every other person that trolls the internet, because they cannot be bothered to learn, yet expect others to do their work for them.

Kind of a dick thing to say to someone who put in the effort to read through the thread, took part in the discussion to offer novel viewpoints, and most importantly had the versatility to allow his own views to be altered by the absorbed information, which is in direct contradiction with your supposition that I "cannot be bothered to learn."

Dai Griffiths wrote:

if you expect answers, go to another part of the forum and learn memory techniques, then come back and pose arguments.

We will be happy to help you and prove you wrong in your statement which I quoted you in, in the first line I wrote.

My argument is basically this: It is only extremely probable, taking into account the fact that the level of performance has risen so tremendously during the lifetime of memory competitions, that natural talents have already started to differentiate themselves from the rest. Such areas of natural talent could include, but not be limited to; spatial memory and awareness, visualization ability, episodic memory, conductivity of the nervous system, neuroplasticity, imagination, heightened senses, and favorable personality traits such as persistence, competitiveness or obsessiveness... Maybe you can think of some more. I don't think my line of thinking is entirely unreasonable here, or that it warrants being called a troll. It's based on pretty much the current reality of diversity. Case in point: I could never have become a 100m sprint world champion because I don't have the reaction times and physiology for it. I could still be wrong and I have no problem admitting it. Please remember that I was being quite diplomatic about presenting my proposition, and it wasn't even central to any of my arguments anyway.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

There are numerous things that are not mentioned in the thread, but as you said, a threat of legal proceedings could happen.

I must have become demented. Where did I speak of this legal threat that you have now mentioned twice?

Dai Griffiths wrote:

So don't hold you breath for free information and other people's time, as I suspect they will feel that you might have to spend a few years studying the subject intensely, just as they did, before they came to this thread. Indeed it is the reason they came to this thread 'after' they understood and 'knew the facts'.

You can stop with the pompous rhetoric pretending to be part of some gentlemen's club of truth-diggers. Many people come to this thread specifically to look for that information and what do you know, isn't it wonderful that some others so graciously have made it easily available for us? What, I need to prove my worth to you by reading research papers and personal accounts of Tammet's life by going to the sources? Why do you think we have journalists digging up information for us if everyone who relies on them to know what's going on in the world is a worthless, ignorant poser or a troll should they dare to comment on reported matters? Get a grip.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

Also, moaning about personal attacks then trying to do the same to Robnstop is futuile.

My intent was certainly not to attack anyone, but I realize I may have come off as a prosecutor, so my apologies for that (to robnonstop). My accusations weren't pulled out of a hat though, they were in response to an apparent response to me that didn't address anything that I had previously written and were just reinforcement of Tammet's negative image. At least nominally we're now having a dialog instead of speaking past each other. Much of which I apparently must spend on correcting misconceptions about myself and my views and intentions.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

Remember, the people in the memory community 'know' Tammet, and they know how memory works, they know the difference between the variety of conditions that Tammet has claimed to have and they know that the only way to help people that either have the conditions for real and help those that do no, is to show the truth.

I agree on the importance of establishing truth, but I don't fully buy into the whole "they know how memory works and about all the conditions Tammet has claimed to have", as in I still don't think you or anyone else on this forum is an authority on assessing Tammet's psychological or neurological state. The evidence is compelling, and if you'd actually read what I've written, you would know that I'm mostly convinced. Can we at least specify what we disagree about? Did you actually read my posts, with thought, or did you just skim over them, interpreted them to be some kind of defense speech for Tammet, and then proceeded to fire back arguments that wouldn't even fit anywhere in this discourse? I know reading with comprehension can be burdensome without projecting a dichotomous stance onto the author to aid in simplifying the process of interpreting the text for the purpose of constructing an accordingly dichotomous response, but it would kind of be respectful and, you know, show that you're bothering to learn also, if only about my inadequate [actual] opinions.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

There are numerous others that are fakes. We know who they are too, but they are often vulnerable people, who in many cases have been taken advantage of by someone who saw the opportunity, just as Tammet did, so we have no intention of discussing them.

This got me curious. What do you mean by fakes in this context? Having been taken advantage of how? In case you meant fake "savants", or autistics, how would someone like Tammet take advantage of them? All my questions are sincere.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

Yes, Tammet has undergone a brain scan. He failed it. That's enough detail for you to do your own research.

A functional MRI scan to determine whether he has synaesthesia, or an MRI for structural characteristics present in autism? Thanks anyway, I'll try to find information on it.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

If what is claimed by Tammet is not damaging, how is it that he can go on national television because he can, supposedly do things that are remarkable and cannot be done by others' ? If you heard some of the past so called 'scientists' making this claim, and your child also heard it, would you expect you child to believe the 'scientists' ? The answer is obvious, even if you are Daniel, but are just looking for a way around the truth for the next book. After all, what is better than to go to those who can prove you to be a liar, then find their proof and think of a new way around it ?

Just another circus clown and a celebrity is by itself hardly damaging.

I clearly distinguish between banal entertainment and actively spreading misinformation that is likely to have direct negative social effect. I'm tired of repeating myself.

Turning "Tammet is a bad guy and a loser" into a sport isn't exactly socially constructive either, unless there is some new information to provide, or a case to be made that the guy is acting out of indifference or malice. I haven't seen conclusive evidence of either, although choosing to name himself after Alexei Tammet-Romanov does sound a bit too delicious.

I much prefer understanding to making judgments. Even if there is material for judgments to be made, I see no value in circle-jerking to it. Provide information, speculate, state your opinion, but don't make it your sole purpose to bring someone else down. I see no point in undermining Tammet's accomplishments in areas that don't pertain to the suggested crimes against humanity, e.g. what's the point of saying things like "he wasn't even good", "he sucked so he turned down memory sports" continuously - beyond certain point, it's just for your own gratification. What about becoming obsessed about him claiming to be a snowflake? Who gives a damn, frankly? He can pretend to be the reincarnation of Buddha for all I care, and he wouldn't be the only one. Lies have no legs. If he does do bad things then spread the information, what are you doing circle-jerking to it in the one corner of the Internet where everyone already knows?

Dai Griffith wrote:

The memory community is like a family, and as such, Daniel has and is welcome to rejoin that family,

I wish the guy would grace us with his presence, but I'm not holding my breath. I have no doubt in my mind he'd ultimately be given justice either way. This forum seems to mostly consist of level-headed people. I don't think he cares about your family though, he has something much bigger going for him according to my research.

Dai Griffiths wrote:

To tell a person that you can achieve something because you are gifted, when other people that are not gifted can achieve the same thing by training, is inherently misleading, regardless. The aim of the memory community is to give people the opportunity create the confidence in themselves to be able to change their lives, pass exams, climb out of poverty and help others to do the same. Tammet does the opposite.

Oh? I always found Tammet inspiring. I found out about his mentathlete past later. It made no difference to me whatsoever whether his ability was innate or acquired - it gave me something to admire, and cases such as him ultimately led me to reading about eidetic memory, synaesthesia and last but not least, memory techniques. You have to have other issues to be put off by displays of inspiring level of skill or ability, instead of it making you contemplate "I wonder how expansive is that person's world, how does he perceive it, and could I work towards it?" I don't care if I'll never be a Tammet (in memory performance, not conning), I can still become a better version of myself.

Maybe the problem is not the stars and celebrities themselves, but our culture obsessing about myths and individuals. We still need heroes, leaders, daddy- and mommy-figures to give us the feeling that more able people are taking care of things for us. You don't fix that by busting a bunch of con-artists - it will take decades of cultural evolution.

7 November, 2014 - 06:10
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Kannas, I believe you are seriously interested in this topic. I suggest we continue this conversation in private to keep the thread from further filling with useless arguments. Send me a PM if you are interested. Most answers will be redundant for other readers.

Kannas wrote:

We don't know for certain what goes and did go on in the minds of these people that you call "fake savants". I honestly didn't even know that was a thing…

Yes it’s a thing, and it will be a bigger thing the more it is accepted and rewarded with awe and money. Of course you can also treat every additional UFO story as if it were true, it could be the first true one after all. But once you heard a couple of them you can see a pattern.

The story is a toned down version of the classic comic book hero myth. Something bad happens, a nuclear accident maybe, and suddenly unique undeserved skills are given to the hero. It is quite common.

For example James Altucher recently wrote this on his LinkedIn page:

James Altucher wrote:

One time I was so lonely I wrote an ad in Craigslist telling people I had psychic powers.



The ad was a lie. I wrote, “I had a big headache and when I woke up I had psychic powers. I will tell anyone’s future if they just write to me.”

Daniel Tammet also claimed to have psychic powers and offered related services. Do I know whether some people actually have psychic powers? Not for certain, no.

7 November, 2014 - 08:55
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robnonstop wrote:

Kannas, I believe you are seriously interested in this topic. I suggest we continue this conversation in private to keep the thread from further filling with useless arguments. Send me a PM if you are interested. Most answers will be redundant for other readers.

Sure thing, I was thinking the same. I dropped you a message.

robnonstop wrote:

The story is a toned down version of the classic comic book hero myth. Something bad happens, a nuclear accident maybe, and suddenly unique undeserved skills are given to the hero. It is quite common.

Interesting and quite humorous analogy.

3 December, 2014 - 14:11
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I'm not sure if it was already mentioned above somewhere, but I wanted to link this thread to another comment about calculating powers of 37.

9 December, 2014 - 14:18
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Josh Cohen wrote:

I'm not sure if it was already mentioned above somewhere....

No, the detail isn't included above anywhere, so here is a bit more detail on DT's performance on these multiplications, together with links to the source videos:
- In the Brainman documentary (filmed around 2005), he is asked to multiply 37 by itself 4 times.
Source: 1:00 in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbASOcqc1Ss
- Later in the documentary he answers four further similar power multiplications - 27^6, 27^7, 31^6, 37^7:
Source: 1:40 in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqLzoiVzEY8
- In a 60 minutes interview he is asked to multiply 31 by itself 4 times, and 17 by itself 4 times [Note - the numbers were wrong in my earlier post, now corrected]
Source: 2:30 in: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/26/60minutes/main2401846.shtml?ta...
- In his book "Born in a blue day", published 2005, he says: "I see thirty-seven's fifth power - 37x37x37x37x37 = 69,343,957 - as a large circle composed of smaller circles running clockwise from the top round."
- In an interview broadcast on the French radio channel Europe 1, broadcast February 2009, he is asked to multiply 37 by itself 5 times.
Source: 2:30 in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYl7SmheR8s
- Then on a French national TV broadcast ("Salut les terriens"), broadcast March 2009, he is again asked to multiply 37 by itself 5 times.
Source: 1:30 in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLk68GlpAjk
The pattern is clear - he is repeatedly using the same or similar numbers again and again, meaning it would be quite easy for him to have memorised the answers in advance. The final example is the most blatant - he is being asked a question that he has answered in another interview only a month before, and which features in his book. It's clearly a setup, but the audience is completely unaware of it and will have been astounded by his skills in this fake performance.

There's an important lesson here. The media should not be trusted to accurately portray his skills. They are interested in making a good TV show, not in scientific accuracy. It's important to bear that in mind when looking at the other alleged "tests" he has taken in the media, such as the TV shows in which he supposedly learns Icelandic and German in a week each.

11 December, 2014 - 06:40
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Tammet's sold nearly a million books. At least, that's according to this article he posted:

http://www.franceculture.fr/emission-ca-rime-a-quoi-les-murray-traduit-p...

Darold Treffert has supposedly retired as a "Physician", so that can only be a good thing.

There seems to be an increase in 'I had a bump on the head and I woke up a savant' syndrome in Russia lately.

2 March, 2015 - 16:59
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Somewhat supporting the possibility of his autistic to significantly less autistic tale:

“Am I still autistic”, a talk at TEDxManhattanBeach by John Hall

“Autism – How My Unstoppable Mother Proved the Experts Wrong”, a talk at TEDxMelbourne by Chris Varney

PS: We should back this entire thread up, some might have an interest in having it removed at some point.

19 June, 2015 - 12:16
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I agree. As a "Bestselling Author" myself, writing a book really does separate the "men from the boys" on specific topics. If you are NOT an expert on a certain topic, one of two things will happen. First, you may learn that you have a lot to learn (more than you thought), or second, you find yourself becoming one (mainly because of the tremendous research involved with any authoritative book). That being said, rock on and continue being real !

9 November, 2015 - 06:38
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Quote:

PS: We should back this entire thread up, some might have an interest in having it removed at some point.

If you're referring to Tammet, I doubt it. He knows that most people believe him and haven't done the research we have to find anything conflicting about what he claims he is.

According to an email exchange I had with Zoomy (if you're reading this, hi!) in March 2012, Tammet is no longer a threat to the memory athlete community. He hasn't competed since before he changed his surname from Corney and I doubt he will in the future.

Until Moonwalking with Einstein came out, I was familiar with Tammet but wasn't aware of skepticism about his claims. Since then, I've noticed Tammet's been putting more focus on his writing and less on claiming he's a savant, since more folks have called him out on that claim thanks to Foer.

I'm surprised though, that Foer didn't publicly call Tammet out earlier than 2011.

9 November, 2015 - 19:29
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Quote:

If you're referring to Tammet, I doubt it.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. A while ago, Tammet emailed my place of work(!) and suggested he'd have a legal case against me due to my posting about him on this very forum. I added the words, "It seems to me..." to my post and told him to go for it.

Very strange behaviour.

Quote:

According to an email exchange I had with Zoomy (if you're reading this, hi!) in March 2012, Tammet is no longer a threat to the memory athlete community.

He was never 'a threat'! I competed with both Tammet / Corney and Ben in 2000. He was never going to win. Ben, on the other hand, placed badly that year but most of us who spoke to him could tell he was going to shoot up the rankings.

Quote:

I've noticed Tammet's been putting more focus on his writing and less on claiming he's a savant, since more folks have called him out on that claim thanks to Foer.

He doesn't need to make that claim as much any more because people already believe it. The only reason his books sell is because of his fantastic origins story.

9 November, 2015 - 23:44
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Slightly interesting article that entertains some scepticism re DT:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201304/i-can-ea...

17 July, 2016 - 05:08
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I read somewhere that he opted for that word because it meant something like acorn or acorn tree. I am not sure whether in Icelandic or Finnish.

23 July, 2016 - 13:23
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Interesting video and discussion...

"His number colors (3 green, 4 blue, 5 yellow) are almost the same as mine. For me:

3 is green because "three" rhymes with "tree";
4 could have been blue because sailboat rides blue water, but I changed it to flag, so it's now black;
5 is brown because seahorses are brownish... close to yellow."

His colors are using multiple mnemonic techniques, I've used the same assignments before, and mine are as follows, maybe his too:
- common denominators: g"ree"n -> th"ree"
- letter count: blue (4 letters) -> four (4 letters)
- yellow is 5th color of rainbow spectrum right to left -> five

1 February, 2017 - 15:09
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I found the following blog post the other day and instantly thought of this discussion. I'm curious about what those of us interested in Tammet's claims think of it. The Mystery Of "Brainman".

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