Photographic Memory (Phase 2: Holy Shit)

A few weeks ago, we posted a potentially paradigm altering question: Can the human mind be trained into photographic recollection? (This is a follow up, so maybe check out the link before reading on) Two sentences are more than enough build up. The results are in folks, and…

The short answer is “yes”.

The slightly longer answer is “FUCK YEAH!!!! WHEW!!!! (6 back-flips)”

For the last month, I’ve been religiously following this protocol, and it has worked. I have a photographic memory. No joke. After the power-lust erection and adrenaline jitters subsided, after a few hours of daydreaming plots to use this new ability for super-villainy, after a day of gazing at perfect recollections of stolen glances at cleavage, I feel I’ve calmed down enough to share with you eager readers the wonderful news… and you can totally have this too.

It’s incredibly easy. Do it. That’s really all you need to know. Do it now… but for the more curious, like I know you are, just a few things:

What’s happening in the brain that makes this work?

Well, there are 2 theories of how color vision works. Trichromatic theory says, essentially, that there are 3 types of cones (receptors) in the eye that sense specific pairs of colors; the occipital lobe then translates this information into what we call vision.

More interestingly, though, and what we’ll be looking at in detail, is the opponent-process theory of colored vision. With the opponent-process theory, whenever it suddenly shifts to dark, a perfect photo-negative image of whatever was just in the visual field gets transposed onto the retina. That’s the mechanism at work for the well-known illusion on the right (stare for ten seconds, then look away and blink fast) (or maybe it’s God talking to you. I don’t know). That negative image is what we utilize for super memory…

As long as the eyes are open, these negative images are constantly being processed and filtered by the brain. See, way too much is happening at once, though. Your eyes take in trillions and trillions of bits of visual information every instant, and almost none of it matters. So the occipital lobe, hard-worker that he is, weeds out what it doesn’t think is necessary. While you “see” everything around you, you only actually perceive an infinitesimal amount, the things that pertain to your safety/survival or what you’re focusing on in the moment. For example:

So, how does the occipital lobe know what’s important? Easy, you tell it. You do this all the time and don’t even think about it. A new parent will notice the “Diapers: Half Price” sign that the rest of us glazed over like it had neon lights, just like Alex Jones fans tend to see the chemtrails and “all-seeing eyes,” as though reality had been hit by a highlighter. Watch: right now, take a quick moment, without moving your eyes; notice all the things around you that are the color black…

Easy, of course, but did you notice that while you were doing that, everything else just sort of faded away? You could still see it, but it just wasn’t in focus, sort of. This is the process we hack…

The mind is plastic, flexible to our will, and if we know how it operates, we can train it to do just about anything. To develop a photographic memory; we need only develop a simple habit, so, real quick, let’s understand how habits work. It’s 30 days. That simple. If we do something every day, after 30 days, it no longer takes effort. The mind is retrained and the process is automatic (remember this for anything you want to do, because it’s universal, not just for memory training).

So with the dark-room process, we read words etched into our retinas, right. These negative images are always there and, usually, disregarded as irrelevant. What we’re doing is stepping into this process and saying, “Hey, don’t throw that out just yet. Let me take a look at that.” (You control your brain; your brain doesn’t control you, and never let anyone tell you otherwise), so the brain says “Oh, ok. Here it is. I didn’t realize you wanted that.” Your brain, however, is in the habit of tossing these negatives, so every day for a month we step in and say, “let me see that for a second.” after 30 days, the brain gets the point and will automatically save these images for you to look at whenever you want. Welcome to the club; you now have a photographically perfect memory.

Additional tips (in retrospect)

1.) Don’t read a book. The absolute best thing to attempt to read is not a book. What works much better is black background with bright and blocky white lettering. Far far easier to try to read.

2.) Wink. Part of the frustration you’ll come across with attempting to read your hindsight is overexposure. If you flash the lights before the image is totally dissolved, there is this overlap effect, like double exposed film (I’m not too ancient for remembering what film is, am I?). The solution: wink. Do it with one eye at a time; it has no effect on the process and allows one eye to recover as the other works. Doing this, my overall exercise got to as little as 3 minutes.

3.) Ask. Who knows how many little gimmicks and tricks I figured out? Feel free to write me at qwizx@wondergressive.com. I’ll get back to you as quick as my busy life will let me, and if there’re enough of the same questions, later, I’ll add an FAQ to the bottom here.

Finally, and most importantly, did I mention “fuck yeah” and “cleavage?”

 

 

Sources:

Experiments in Photographic Memory (Phase 1: Guinea Pig) (wondergressive.com)

What is the Trichromatic Theory of Color Vision (about.com)

What is the Opponent-Process Theory of Color Vision (about.com)

Awareness Test – Basketball Passes (youtube.com)

Why Habits Aren’t Always Formed in 21 Days (lifehacker.com)

The Folly of High Speed Rail in America

 

This transit layout, put together by California Rail Map and Alfred Twu, envisions a future America thoroughly connected via high speed rail. After repeatedly popping up on my Facebook feed like a freakish case of shingles, I decided that I couldn’t allow this quixotic dream and the fevered intentions behind it go unchallenged. The love affair for high speed rail in the US is nothing more than noxious propaganda, seeping fumes that mute rationality in favor of misplaced adoration for antiquated, 19th century technology.

Don’t get me wrong: I love trains. I’ve been living in South Korea for over three years and am fully enamored with its spectacular rail service. I also lived in Germany and was equally impressed with the efficiency of their inter-city mass transit system. The problem with Alfred Twu’s map is simple and profound: America was not designed to be like Europe or Korea. What works for them simply cannot function Stateside, no matter how much people wish it would.

There is one area in America where high speed rail  makes sense: The megalopolis between Boston and Washington D.C., a relatively small stretch of land that supports almost one-sixth of the US population. With the possible exception of a route between San Diego and San Francisco, that is the only place where extensive passenger lines are sensible. It is a hyper population-dense region with a string of cities that enjoy adequate access to public transportation. Every other route on Twu’s map is expensive folly. I should actually say more expensive folly, because in 2011 Amtrak somehow managed to lose about $1.2 billion, despite having better than expected ridership.

The rail system in Korea works so well because of its unique geography and population density. South Korea is home to about 50 million people, all living in an area roughly the size of a mountainous Indiana. Because of its condensed urban nature and high public demand, every city has an orderly and efficient public transit system. This makes it possible to travel to every city, and also within every city without the need for a car. Another simplifying factor is that a trip between Korea’s two largest cities, Seoul and Busan, which are on totally opposite sides of the country, can be made in about two and a half hours.

Most cities in Germany and other European countries are also similarly compressed and friendly to high speed rail. Their narrow, bicycle-spoked street layouts are based on their medieval roots, when expanding city streets were cobbled together for immediate convenience and with an understanding that space was at a premium. This makes the modern cities more conducive to light rail systems than the spacious grids of most American cities. This in turn helps ensure that once a tourist or visitor arrives to a city by train, they can fairly easily travel to wherever they want to go by public transport.

Other than the notable exceptions I mentioned earlier, America simply doesn’t have the population density required to sustain high speed rail. One of the glaringly obvious and defining characteristics of the US is its size, and this geographical reality has helped to fundamentally shape American culture and the design of our cities. Once Americans migrated west of the Appalachian Mountains, they built cities that reflected the new-found abundance of land. They eschewed the congested, radial street plans of Boston and Washington DC in favor of the sprawling grids of cities like St. Louis, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The farther west people traveled  and as railroad and eventually automobile technology advanced, this effect was magnified. For a simplistic example, the Greater Los Angeles Area covers just under 34,000 square miles, compared to just 5,617 sq miles for the Paris aire urbaine.

One area of the country that could theoretically support high speed rail is—at second glance—utterly incapable of doing so: The Midwest triangle between Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Chicago is a large metropolis with a good transit system, and the cities are all economically and culturally intertwined, with a high volume of traffic between the three. However, St. Louis and Indy are decidedly built around the automobile. St. Louis does have two light rail lines, but they largely overlap and aren’t very popular. From personal experience, Indianapolis might as well not have any public transport. It has no light rail and its bus system is notoriously byzantine and tortuously slow. It would be virtually impossible for a businessman to pop into these cities by train and promptly get to where he needed to go. It simply isn’t feasible without a car. And these are major cities; can you imagine how these problems will compound in small towns like Quincy, IL (pop. 40,633) or Cheyenne, WY (pop. 59,466), which are also covered in Twu’s fantasy map?

With the size of the US, any proposed high speed rail lines are going to be prohibitively expensive, especially considering that the country is $16 trillion in the hole. The California High Speed Rail project from San Diego to Sacramento was approved by voters in 2008 and financing for the first leg was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, 2012. The project has already become a massive boondoggle, with the expected cost having greatly expanded from an estimated $45 billion to between $68 and $98 billion. The completion date has also been delayed 13 years to 2033. Incredibly, this is in a region that—on paper—looks like a perfect place to implement high speed rail. How farcically will the process further degrade on a proposed route between Tulsa, OK and Corpus Christi, TX?

Without a car, there is simply no reasonable way to navigate the vast majority of American cities. The infrastructure to travel on mass transit simply isn’t there. And in most respects it shouldn’t be: There just isn’t a big enough demand to justify it. The US system depends on cars and airplanes. The routes can be largely customized by the user and they provide a level of freedom wanting from high speed rail that is expected by the American traveler. They are also cheaper and more efficient in our country of suburbs and interstate travel.

There is no rational reason to support a mass increase in high speed rail projects in the US. America is not structured like South Korea or European countries that make rail a viable and dependable mode of transportation for the majority of inhabitants. They have a system that works, and so do we. We don’t need to abandon organically-driven functionality in a vain and expensive effort to be “more European.” Cars, from the ’67 Ford Mustang to Marty McFly’s DeLorean, are a part of America’s DNA; they symbolize and help grant the liberty that the nation was founded on. It would be a shame to throw that all away on a futile wish that “If we build it, they will ride.”

 

Sources:

Business Insider: Here’s What an American High Speed Rail Network Could Look Like

AMTRAK National Facts

Visit Korea

NationsOnline.org

Princeton.edu- Greate Los Angeles Area

Metro St Louis.org

St. Louis Park Patch

US Census Bureau

US Debt Clock.org

California High Speed Rail Authority

LA Times: Bullet Train’s $98-billion Cost Could Be Its Biggest Obstacle

Huffington Post: California High Speed Rail Still Faces a Lot of Obstacles

The Economist- An age of transformation