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  #1  
Old 05-08-2012, 03:00 AM
Laudenum Laudenum is offline
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remembering people - techniques

I am absolutely atrocious at remembering people, constantly drawing blanks.

Are there any techniques that allow you to meet someone once and remember theiir name a year later?
All help appreciated
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2012, 07:10 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Take a photo and study it every day.

Seriously, I'll be checking this thread, because while that idea might work, I need something less drastic.
Even to remember them a week later!
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  #3  
Old 05-08-2012, 07:37 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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There's a book (maybe even a CD or DVD -- can't remember ) by a memory expert stage performer who used to be on Johnny Carson, that goes into memory tricks of all sorts.

Best I can recall (I only skimmed the book in a bookstore and didn't buy it) the names thing was a matter of associating facial (or bodily) features with some weirded up version of the name as a linking device.

This performer had as his feature bit, calling off the names of the entire audience, one by one, row by row, after only learning their names as they entered the theater. I wish I could remember his name...

Something Robbins, maybe?
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  #4  
Old 05-08-2012, 07:49 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
There's a book (maybe even a CD or DVD -- can't remember ) by a memory expert stage performer who used to be on Johnny Carson, that goes into memory tricks of all sorts.

Best I can recall (I only skimmed the book in a bookstore and didn't buy it) the names thing was a matter of associating facial (or bodily) features with some weirded up version of the name as a linking device.

This performer had as his feature bit, calling off the names of the entire audience, one by one, row by row, after only learning their names as they entered the theater. I wish I could remember his name...

Something Robbins, maybe?
http://putnam.limaohio.com/articles/...echniques.html
Basketball star Jerry Lucas shares special memory techniques


http://www.harrylorayne.com/demonstrations/index.html
Real People Demonstrating the POWER of Harry Lorayne's Memory Power, Memory Training Package

Nothing yet on Robbins...
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  #5  
Old 05-08-2012, 06:38 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
...the names thing was a matter of associating facial (or bodily) features with some weirded up version of the name as a linking device.
This is the standard technique that is described by most memory experts. The idea is that it is easier to remember unusual things than common things. The idea is to note a feature of someone then really exaggerate it in your mind. Then take something about their name and use it or a similar word as a thing or action associated with them.

It's a simple idea and it works, but it's not as easy to put into practice as it seems. If I get to know somebody I can remember them for the rest of my life, but I have trouble remembering people that I have just met because when I meet them my brain focuses on trying to present a good first impression and it totally turns off the "get their name" function. But if you can look someone in the eye, shake hands, and then also think at the same time, "This guy has a huge nose, and 'Jack' rhymes with tack so I picture this guy with a huge tack sticking out of his huge nose" then you're set.

And doing it with 100 people in one shot is amazing.
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  #6  
Old 05-08-2012, 10:01 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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You might just be face blind. I am, and it's pretty much impossible to get around. There are online tests you can do to check for it, but I don't have a link right now.
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  #7  
Old 05-09-2012, 05:22 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
It's a simple idea and it works, but it's not as easy to put into practice as it seems. If I get to know somebody I can remember them for the rest of my life, but I have trouble remembering people that I have just met because when I meet them my brain focuses on trying to present a good first impression and it totally turns off the "get their name" function. But if you can look someone in the eye, shake hands, and then also think at the same time, "This guy has a huge nose, and 'Jack' rhymes with tack so I picture this guy with a huge tack sticking out of his huge nose" then you're set.
I've heard this a idea a gazillion times, but in my experience, to say that "it's not as easy as it seems" is a HUGE understatement. In your example, when I meet this guy the next time, I might notice his big nose, but what will remind me to think of the tack? That's the part I could never figure out.

In contrast, if Jack was a taxi driver, and always dressed like a taxi driver, then the odds are half-decent that the next time I meet him, his uniform MIGHT remind me that "hack" is slang for taxi driver, and then I MIGHT be lucky enough make the connection to "Jack".

But such a set of connections are very rare, and in my view Occam would say that Zeldar's performer simply had a great memory.

(PS: When I first heard of face blindness, I was convinced that to be my problem. But I have since learned otherwise. I can easily tell faces apart; my only problem is associating them with a name. I'll often tell my wife something like, "Remember that woman who sat on your left at the party last week? She sent regards." I remember the person from previous encounters, but can't remember the name.)
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  #8  
Old 05-09-2012, 07:17 AM
Corcaigh Corcaigh is offline
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I'm about 6ft tall, so everyone remembers me - even if they only met me in passing once months ago.

I on the other hand can't remember who anyone is. I was raised by toxic parents and was never (or very rarely) spoken to by name - my dad had a nickname for me, but that's the only name I remember being called. So I grew up not understanding the 'importance' of names or remembering them. Caused me some problems when someone set up a facebook page for my old high school, loads of people messaged me and I hadn't clue who the hell they were, and had to ask. Given that it's been over 30 years since I last saw any of them, it was nigh on impossible to recognise their faces. I only remembered an ex boyfriend and my fellow Trekkie nerd

I tend to say "hi" and throw out a name, and then say "oh wait, you're not so and so" and generally speaking the person will laugh and say what their name is.
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  #9  
Old 05-09-2012, 07:54 AM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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"how's it going (man)?" has been a great substitute for knowing names since the year dot.
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  #10  
Old 05-09-2012, 08:08 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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I just accept that I suck at remembering people. Also, if someone is going to be butthurt that I don't remember their name (or even that we've met) than my attitude is "fuck em".

ETA: works for me.

Last edited by kayaker; 05-09-2012 at 08:08 AM..
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  #11  
Old 05-09-2012, 08:30 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Originally Posted by Corcaigh View Post
I tend to say "hi" and throw out a name, and then say "oh wait, you're not so and so" and generally speaking the person will laugh and say what their name is.
No, no, no! You just never say their name! You say "Hi! How's it going?" and you just never put yourself in that position.
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  #12  
Old 05-09-2012, 08:38 AM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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You should learn mnemonic techniques (which isn't all that difficult). Among the leading authors are Harry Lorayne und Tony Buzan.

One book I would recommend is "The Memory Book" by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas which you can get real cheap on Amazon.

These techniques require some practise, but they do work.
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  #13  
Old 05-09-2012, 09:06 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
You should learn mnemonic techniques (which isn't all that difficult). Among the leading authors are Harry Lorayne und Tony Buzan.

One book I would recommend is "The Memory Book" by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas which you can get real cheap on Amazon.

These techniques require some practise, but they do work.
There are some links to more details about these guys in Post #4.
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  #14  
Old 05-09-2012, 10:53 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
..."This guy has a huge nose, and 'Jack' rhymes with tack so I picture this guy with a huge tack sticking out of his huge nose" then you're set...
Yeah, you're set until you run into him a month later and blurt out, "Hey, it's Big Nose Tack!"


mmm
(who also sucks at this)

Last edited by Mean Mr. Mustard; 05-09-2012 at 10:53 AM..
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  #15  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:11 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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[hijack]

There's an old joke that sort of ties in with the theme here. The third grade teacher was telling the kids at the beginning of the year about her unusual name.

"Now, boys and girls, my name is Ms. Prussy. And I want you to think of your kitty cat and just put an R in there so it will be easy to remember."

Next morning Little Johnny (who else?) comes in all grinning and greets her, "Good morning, Ms. Crunt."

[/hijack]
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  #16  
Old 05-09-2012, 01:21 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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I've just learned that I have to give myself five minutes or so of conversation before I ask a person for their name. This conversation gives me things to associate the name with, and those associations are stronger (and more useful in general) than the artificial ones in mnemonics.

Since everyone always starts with the name, I have to create a chance to get the name again after those five minutes. If I can, I check a name badge or business card for reference, but I'll also just come right out and ask. I make sure to end the initial conversation with "Good to meet you, x" so that's the final element in my memory.

Even then, recognizing their face is a challenge - even minor changes in hair color/styling, facial hair, makeup, etc. can throw me. (I'm the worst person I know at identifying actors). I'll often have to link their name to other traits. (Since I work in the tax business, I often joke that I'm more likely to remember a person's social security number than their name. But it's actually the face I forget.)

One trick I use to keep things straight is to put pictures of people in my contact list. (I use Apple's Address Book/iCloud, but most of them have that now.) I can use that before and after meetings to help refresh my memory.
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  #17  
Old 05-09-2012, 01:38 PM
dauerbach dauerbach is offline
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I remember when we used to spend hours memorizing faces of incoming freshman in a thing called the facebook.
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  #18  
Old 05-09-2012, 01:46 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by dauerbach View Post
I remember when we used to spend hours memorizing faces of incoming freshman in a thing called the facebook.
It's not really the same thing, but I have to revisit Straight Dope Message Board Portrait Gallery every so often to try to keep my name-to-face memory relatively intact. People who have avoided that opportunity (including myself) are just at the mercy of whatever picture I create in my mind's eye.

I'd estimate that more than half of those pictures are better looking than my own image had been.

(There are some old threads with the "put an image on an unknown Doper" theme. Wild and crazy stuff.)
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  #19  
Old 05-09-2012, 02:59 PM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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If you need material to practise, just try to learn the names and faces of the members of the South Dakota Legislature by heart (klick on name and scroll down for the picture):

http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberMenu.aspx

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  #20  
Old 05-09-2012, 03:26 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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I knew a guy who always introduced himself as "Robert. That's Robert not Robber"

Corny, but it worked. No one ever forgot his name, because they had to take that those few seconds to digest what he said and really focus on his name. That seemed to do the trick for transferring the information from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Last edited by Spoke; 05-09-2012 at 03:27 PM..
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  #21  
Old 05-09-2012, 09:18 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
I've heard this a idea a gazillion times, but in my experience, to say that "it's not as easy as it seems" is a HUGE understatement. In your example, when I meet this guy the next time, I might notice his big nose, but what will remind me to think of the tack? That's the part I could never figure out.
I don't use the technique. However, as I understand it, the point is that the silly image will impress the memory on your brain, and to do it well, practice is required. I do use a similar technique for shorter passwords I use frequently. I generate a random password, then make up a nonsense sentence where each alpha character begins a word in the sentence. Sometimes I'll change a character to make a better sentence. And I handle special characters, well, specially. It really does help memorizing the password.

Last edited by rowrrbazzle; 05-09-2012 at 09:20 PM..
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  #22  
Old 05-09-2012, 10:16 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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The worst is when manners dictates that you introduce a third party to someone you might have known for years (neighbor, dog Parker, eg). What I do, as I do sometimes in similar cases when it is just me and the forgotten-name person: "what is your full name again?"

Thus, with luck they'll say Joe Smidlap, even though you don't care about the Schmidlap.

The real worst, I suppose, would be the case in _Seinfeld_ where you forget the name of the person you're necking with.
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  #23  
Old 05-09-2012, 10:29 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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I think it's also important to remember that there's absolutely no shame in admitting it. "Hi, nice to see you again! I'm Scarlett, and I'm so terrible at remembering names; please tell me yours again?" Just remember that everyone forgets names, and none of us mind when people forget our names, so why should someone get upset if you forgot? (And if they do get upset, well, then they're a dick.)
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  #24  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:34 PM
moejoe moejoe is offline
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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
I think it's also important to remember that there's absolutely no shame in admitting it. "Hi, nice to see you again! I'm Scarlett, and I'm so terrible at remembering names; please tell me yours again?" Just remember that everyone forgets names, and none of us mind when people forget our names, so why should someone get upset if you forgot? (And if they do get upset, well, then they're a dick.)
So true. My trick is I usually ask again at the end of the first meeting, as in - say, it's been great meeting you, Bob was it? Ok Bob, have a safe flight home eh? I'm great at remembering people and names even years later after one quick meeting, but my real trick is creating a little relationship of some kind during that first meeting.

My theory is that I don't forget the names of people I know well, or my first cat or my grandmother, and that's because I know more about them than just their name and what they look like. Trying to remember just names and faces would be a real challenge, but remembering Bob, who laughed at my cowboy joke when we met at that sales meeting last year, or Mary the weird lady who helped me pick out a picture frame in the Walgreens last Christmas is no problem. Hey Helen! long time no see! Did you ever find your jacket after the Murphy's party?

I can learn enough about a person in five minutes to remember them forever if I'm really paying attention to them when we meet.
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  #25  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:58 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
I've heard this a idea a gazillion times, but in my experience, to say that "it's not as easy as it seems" is a HUGE understatement. In your example, when I meet this guy the next time, I might notice his big nose, but what will remind me to think of the tack? That's the part I could never figure out.
Well, the idea is that your mnemonic is sufficiently ridiculous enough that seeing his big nose instantly reminds you of the tack. If the image is not strong enough, or your memory can't otherwise hold on to the image, then it's not going to work. For me, some things stick directly and instantly, while other things require a mnemonic device for dependable recall. But these general types of tricks work unbelievably well for me. I can't do it now, but as a kid, I'd be able to memorize decks of cards and long strings of numbers using this type of "connect one silly image to another" type of memorization technique. But YMMV.
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  #26  
Old 05-10-2012, 12:16 AM
lisiate lisiate is offline
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A year's a pretty tall order. I find that repeating the name back to them when first told it helps a lot. And then using it a few times in conversation thereafter really helsp to make it stick. Something like:

Them: Hi, I'm Bob
Me: Hi Bob, nice to meet you.
...[later in conversation]
Me: No Bob, I'm not interested in purchasing a timeshare.
....
Me: Bob, I prefer not to discuss religious matters during a business meeting.
....
Me: Well I guess I'lol be leaving now Bob, good luck with your upcoming missionary work in Saudi Arabia.
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  #27  
Old 05-10-2012, 07:49 AM
Corcaigh Corcaigh is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
No, no, no! You just never say their name! You say "Hi! How's it going?" and you just never put yourself in that position.
Oh around here people expect to be called by name, so you have to say something

I usually call women "Mary" since there's a 50/50 chance I'll be right LOL
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  #28  
Old 05-10-2012, 08:00 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by Corcaigh View Post
Oh around here people expect to be called by name, so you have to say something

I usually call women "Mary" since there's a 50/50 chance I'll be right LOL
Not to advocate or anything, but you could check the recent thread on "Given Names" for an alternate that has a better chance of being wrong.
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  #29  
Old 05-10-2012, 08:40 AM
Enderw24 Enderw24 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
[hijack]

There's an old joke that sort of ties in with the theme here. The third grade teacher was telling the kids at the beginning of the year about her unusual name.

"Now, boys and girls, my name is Ms. Prussy. And I want you to think of your kitty cat and just put an R in there so it will be easy to remember."

Next morning Little Johnny (who else?) comes in all grinning and greets her, "Good morning, Ms. Crunt."

[/hijack]
Quote:
When I was teaching at Penn State, I had a colleague whose last name was Yeagley. He would tell his students, "My name is Yeagley; there's a `y' on each end, and an `eagle' in the middle."

One year, several weeks after the beginning of school, he overheard the following conversation between two students:

First student: "I have this great physics teacher."

Second student: "Yeah? What's his name?"

First student: "Mr. Yowly."
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...-first-student
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  #30  
Old 05-10-2012, 08:50 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corcaigh
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
No, no, no! You just never say their name! You say "Hi! How's it going?" and you just never put yourself in that position.
Oh around here people expect to be called by name, so you have to say something

I usually call women "Mary" since there's a 50/50 chance I'll be right LOL
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
Not to advocate or anything, but you could check the recent thread on "Given Names" for an alternate that has a better chance of being wrong.
And I see that you already know about (and contributed to) that thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enderw24 View Post
Thanks for helping with the joke, and that's a cool link. Maybe another Names spinoff thread brewing?
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  #31  
Old 05-10-2012, 11:08 AM
digs digs is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Well, the idea is that your mnemonic is sufficiently ridiculous enough that seeing his big nose instantly reminds you of the tack. If the image is not strong enough, or your memory can't otherwise hold on to the image, then it's not going to work. For me, some things stick directly and instantly, while other things require a mnemonic device for dependable recall. But these general types of tricks work unbelievably well for me. I can't do it now, but as a kid, I'd be able to memorize decks of cards and long strings of numbers using this type of "connect one silly image to another" type of memorization technique. But YMMV.
The fairly recent book "Moonwalking with Einstein" is an autobiography of a memory whiz with lots of this kind of trick.
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  #32  
Old 05-10-2012, 02:37 PM
abel29a abel29a is offline
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
There's a book (maybe even a CD or DVD -- can't remember ) by a memory expert stage performer who used to be on Johnny Carson, that goes into memory tricks of all sorts.

Best I can recall (I only skimmed the book in a bookstore and didn't buy it) the names thing was a matter of associating facial (or bodily) features with some weirded up version of the name as a linking device.

This performer had as his feature bit, calling off the names of the entire audience, one by one, row by row, after only learning their names as they entered the theater. I wish I could remember his name...

Something Robbins, maybe?
Could you be thinking of Derren Brown? He has a book called Tricks of the mind, which has lots of memory related tricks.

I have the same problem as the OP btw, and have realized I'm face blind to an extent as well. I also can't describe faces, or picture them in my mind - not sure if that is outside the norm tough
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  #33  
Old 05-10-2012, 03:11 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by abel29a View Post
Could you be thinking of Derren Brown? He has a book called Tricks of the mind, which has lots of memory related tricks.
I'm pretty sure now that it had to have been Jerry Lucas after doing a Yahoo! search on
Quote:
"johnny carson" memory expert audience names
Your guy looks like a good read on the thread topic, though.
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  #34  
Old 05-11-2012, 06:11 AM
ExcitedIdiot ExcitedIdiot is offline
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia
Quote:
Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.
There is no treatment, but some tricks can help a person deal with it. Most techniques involve finding other things that you can remember, like speech, hair color, gait, body shapes, etc.

Oliver Sacks suffers from Prosopagnosia, and writes about it in The man who mistook his wife for a hat.
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  #35  
Old 05-11-2012, 07:15 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Originally Posted by ExcitedIdiot View Post
Oliver Sacks suffers from Prosopagnosia, and writes about it in The man who mistook his wife for a hat.
That link, to Amazon, lets me read most of the first chapter. Absolutely fascinating!
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  #36  
Old 05-11-2012, 03:31 PM
Corcaigh Corcaigh is offline
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
Not to advocate or anything, but you could check the recent thread on "Given Names" for an alternate that has a better chance of being wrong.
Ah but here in Ireland, Mary is fierce popular!

It's a bit like that prank where you phone a place of business and ask for Dave - there's nearly always a Dave working there. If you were to shout "Mary!" in the street at least two women would turn to look!

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  #37  
Old 05-11-2012, 03:38 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by Corcaigh View Post
Ah but here in Ireland, Mary is fierce popular!

It's a bit like that prank where you phone a place of business and ask for Dave - there's nearly always a Dave working there. If you were to shout "Mary!" in the street at least two women would turn to look!

This sounds a whole lot like the wedding reception in Goodfellas with Dave replaced by Peter and Paul. Mary still dominated the women.
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