X-Message-Number: 12200
From: "George Smith" <>
References: <>
Subject: Reply to John Grigg on Brain enhancement technologies
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 11:08:25 -0700

To John Grigg's Message # 12196:

First, the copy of MEGABRAINS by Michael Hutchinson which I have is
copyrighted 1986.  Surely there has been a more recent popular book on this

The "Super Memory" Bulgarian methods (even older) do indeed work.  I created
tapes to cram anatomy in 1979 and the process produced what I would
characterize as long-term memory.  The name of any anatomical feature would
simply "pop up" during a test, rather than my trying to recall it in the
normal manner.  The drawback to this method is the almost total lack of
properly structured materials.  Data to be memorized needs to be audibly
produced timed to breathing and music tempo.  I had to create all of my own
tapes and found this incredibly time consuming.

For memorization as a whole I am unaware of anything more effective than the
associated peg memory systems first devised in classical Greece.  Read any
book by Harry Lorraigne and you can quickly learn this method.

A University of Washington study about 5 years ago (sorry, I have lost the
reference) found that auditory subliminal tapes did not produce measurable
influence nor recall of data, while visual subliminal, however, do.  If you
question this finding, it is relatively easy to test with a foreign language
vocabulary.  Pretest your comprehension.  Run subliminal audio tapes for
that language for a week.  Re-test.

On the issue of self-esteem as a goal, I would suggest that this is a very
questionable idea in the first place.  Identifying with your skill levels is
what self-esteem (the esteeming or evaluating of the self) equates to, and
assigning a value to 'you" can cause many problems.

As Albert Ellis, the creator of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy)
has often suggested, it is much wiser to NOT evaluate "you" at all - only
your skills as something you DO.  Self-acceptance is a skill for reducing
unnecessary emotional problems.  Identity is not utility.

Further, if you still consider self-esteem a worthy goal, it should come
from an honest evaluation of the behaviors you are (incorrectly) identifying
with, not trying to overlay your evaluation with some pre-judgement such as
"I like myself.  I am a wonderful person." and other such meaningless but
positive-sounding suggestions.  Instead I would suggest trying suggestions
not requiring that you lie about your experiences but have the potential of
becoming true, such as: "I can enjoy what I do right now" or "I can choose
to relax and do a better job right now".

But again, this is not really self-esteem.  It is much, much better than

I, too, look forward to learning if there have been any reputable
longer-term studies regarding influencing the brain through magnetic
resonance and electrical stimulation.  I would, however, suggest great
caution.  Entraining the brain to teach oneself to be epileptic has already
happened by accident.  Much worse could happen.  As Woody Allen said in
"Sleeper", "My brain?  That's my second most favorite organ."

Learning to achieve the Relaxation Response (Herbert Benson) is useful and
bypasses the need for most of the "mind machines" which were available about
15 years ago, in my experience.  Just as in the learning of lucid dreaming
(natural human VR), using the simple procedure of pre-sleep self-suggestion
and after sleep dream recall is just as effective as any lucid dream
induction device (last I checked was 5 years ago), many of the devices are
questionable crutches or placebos to enhancing mental effects.

If this situation has radically changed in the last few years I, too, would
be most interested in

For depression, I would strongly suggest you work with a professional with
training in REBT and/or NLP to replace the kinds of self-defeating beliefs
which usually sustain the cognitive side of this problem.

And, finally, before you spend incredible amounts of money on questionable
approaches to "self-improvement" (a misnomer if ever there was one.  You can
only improve skills, cognitive and otherwise.  The self is unknowable by
definition), please be certain you have your membership secured for
cryonics.  $1500 is more than you need for CI membership and term life for
at least a year or too if my math is right.

Don't improve your mind and then lose your life!

Best wishes,

George Smith
Cryonics Institute member

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