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Mind Performance Hacks: Review and Manifesto

Mind Performance Hacks CoverMy copy of Mind Performance Hacks has been sitting by my chair in the living room for some months, waiting for me to spend some serious time digging into its contents. I picked it up again this past weekend, and was once again impressed with the density of surpassingly cool information packed therein.

The book is perfect for those with omnivorous interests who enjoy pushing the limits of their minds, but I’d venture to suggest that anyone with a modicum of curiosity will find a quite a number of things to pique their enthusiasm.  The book’s 75 short articles (called “hacks”, implying an attractive blend of usefulness, cleverness, and efficacity) are grouped into eight chapters: Memory, Information Processing, Creativity, Math, Decision Making, Communication, Clarity, and Mental Fitness.

Even though I’ve encountered many of the specific topics previously, I found plenty of material that was either new to me or contained interesting perspectives. For example, even though I’ve investigated shorthand systems I’d never paid much attention to Dutton Speedwords. I’ve played around with mental arithmetic, but I’d never encountered the divisibility tests for seven, eleven, and thirteen.

Simply placing all this material into close proximity invites experimentation. While I’ve read much about mnemotechnics, for example, I’ve only put some of the most basic techniques into practice, and never in any sort of systematic fashion. The book starts with a relatively simple pegwords example, then moves into more advanced material, including a system that purports to allow you to remember a list of 10,000 items.

Rather than write a single in-depth review of this book, over the next few months I plan to use the hacks in MPH as jumping-off points for posts, recording my experiences putting them into action. I’ll be ranging through the book freely rather than taking the entries in order.