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Old 12th September 2020, 07:58 PM   #1
MMarco
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Mingun Sayadaw and his exceptional memory abilities

Hi all,
recently I stumbled upon an article about a Myanmar monk called Mingun Sayadaw, a Myanmar monk who in 1954 has been able to (apparently) flawless recall and recite all the content from the 16000 pages of the Tipitaka in front of other people. This is over 2 million words.
Just Google "Mingun Sayadaw Book of World Records"
The feat has been listed in at least two editions of the Guinness of World Records.
I know about people with exceptional memory abilities but I am wondering whether this is not beyond what an human mind can be able to do so I am wondering if there is anybody out there who knows more than me about the subject.
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Old 12th September 2020, 10:33 PM   #2
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No way.
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Old 13th September 2020, 01:54 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
No way.
Search him up in Wikipedia
"Mingun_Sayadaw"
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Old 13th September 2020, 04:15 AM   #4
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Well, if he did what is claimed, then clearly it’s not beyond the abilities of the human brain. I say ‘if’, because I doubt that in 1954 there was an adjudicator from Guinness on hand, so we may be relying on an possibly biased or less than objective report. Is the record still listed in current editions of the book?
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Old 13th September 2020, 04:18 AM   #5
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There’s nothing listed on the Guinness site now - https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com...mingun+sayadaw
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Old 13th September 2020, 06:27 AM   #6
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Remarkable memory feats are hardly unheard-of, but they are frequently confined to individuals who are “on the spectrum” and may be otherwise rather non-functional.
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Old 13th September 2020, 07:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Remarkable memory feats are hardly unheard-of, but they are frequently confined to individuals who are “on the spectrum” and may be otherwise rather non-functional.
Frequently folks are functionally challenged but there are folks that are normally functional that have extraordinarily good memories, one such person is Marilu Henner.she was diagnosed with hyperthymesia aka "Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory".
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:04 AM   #8
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MMarco: Why is this in the supernatural subforum?
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:13 AM   #9
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I found this:

http://www.dhammadownload.com/File-L...-BHADDANTA.pdf

Which goes into some detail how he trained himself to be able to recite it. He had an impressive memory.

"He set about the task systematically. He took up the Pali Canon passage by passage, book by book. He first set out to understand the passage thinking in Myanmar and in PiiIi. He broke the passage into sentences, paragraphs or sections according to the degree of difficulty. If necessary, he noted the number of modifications and variations in the selected pieces. He read aloud each section five times, then closing the book, he repeated what he had just recited.

If he was hesitant or felt he had not mastered the passage he would open the book and read aloud five more times. ]f it was recalled smoothly he would recite it ten times and then pass on to the next passage. In the evenings when reciting the day's passages he would not do it alone but request some other monk to check with the open book. This ensured that he did not pass over any word, phrase or sentence and that each declension was correct.

When two or three books had been mastered he would set aside each evening two or three periods required for their recall and recitation. The intention was to go through the finished books simultaneously so that the mind would be active in all the books at the same time and all interrelationships would be discerned."

He was learning and training to recite long passages from a very young age.
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Old 13th September 2020, 09:21 AM   #10
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Impressive feat, but rather a waste of brainpower IMO.
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Old 13th September 2020, 10:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
MMarco: Why is this in the supernatural subforum?
General Skepticism and...
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Old 13th September 2020, 03:40 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ron Obvious View Post
Impressive feat, but rather a waste of brainpower IMO.
He’s a monk striving for personal “self enlightenment”.

How narcissistic can a person get?
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Old 13th September 2020, 04:54 PM   #13
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Old 13th September 2020, 05:28 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
Mingun Sayadaw, a Myanmar monk who in 1954 has been able to (apparently) flawless recall and recite all the content from the 16000 pages of the Tipitaka in front of other people. This is over 2 million words.
Well I thought I'd apply some other skeptic checks out of interest.

"The Tripitaka was handed down orally, then written down in the third century B.C.E. According to Buddhist tradition"

Well that's a lot to remember, however I know from Homer's Iliad, that was also handed down orally, that some of these documents are composed as poems to allow for memorising. That may be the case here but I can't speak the original language.

"Tripitaka means "three baskets," from the way in which it was originally recorded: the text was written on long, narrow leaves, which were sewn at the edges then grouped into bunches and stored in baskets."

Well that would be a lot of leaves for two million words.

I'm now openly wondering if the monk was reciting a shorter original language version of the Tripitaka and not the published modern English version.
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Old 13th September 2020, 06:42 PM   #15
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Thank you all for the informative answers.
I did some research by myself and I have found out that there are several people who do have exceptional memory abilities, for example there are people who remember the whole Qran quite well.
There is a specific word for people who have mastered to remember the Qran (the Hafiz) and there are a few hundreds if not thousands of Hafiz around the world AFAIK.
I dont know of any person who has memorized the whole Bible though (people may have been able to memorize just the New Testament but I dont know of people who have been able to memorize the whole Bible) as the Bible is much longer than the Qran
The total size of the whole Qran and the whole Bible is just a small fraction of the size of the Tipitaka.
The whole Bible is less than 800 thousands words and the Tipitaka is over 2 million words
I know that there are very very few exceptionally gifted monks that have been said to have been able to memorize the Tipitaka but they have been tested just one fifth at time of the whole Tipitaka at a time and we are talking about a dozen monks or so in about 60 years of examinations.
And even in such exams there are rules that allow for some help..

So being able to memorize the whole Tipitaka and recite it at random without any help would be an exceptional feat way beyond what every other human I know have been able to do.

Truly a supernatural feat and I am trying to find out if there is any evidence of such feat. Still I could not find much info in the net
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Old 13th September 2020, 06:49 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
MMarco: Why is this in the supernatural subforum?
I have tried to explain this.
No human being has ever been able to remember and recite a text even remotely close to the lenght of the whole Tipitaka

Qran: 77000 words
Bible: 800000 words or so

People have been able to remember the Qran.
No human being AFAIK has been able to remember the whole Bible word by word

The whole Tipitaka is AFAIK over 2 million words long, so this is why if an human being has really being able to remember it word by word this would be a superhuman ability.
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Old 13th September 2020, 08:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
The whole Tipitaka is AFAIK over 2 million words long, so this is why if an human being has really being able to remember it word by word this would be a superhuman ability.
I suggest you need to note that the first English translation didn't occur until 1982 so it wasn't an English version he memorised in 1954.. You probably need to assess how many words exist in the original language version and if it was in poetry stanzas in that language to allow for memorising.

"The English translation project of the Buddhist Canon began in January 1982, when Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata, the founder of BDK (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism), established the Editorial Committee of the English Tripiṭaka Translation Project. "
http://www.bdk.or.jp/english/english...n_project.html
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Old 13th September 2020, 11:53 PM   #18
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I "died" last year. Flat lined(they shocked me 6 times and were ready to call it)..the doctor did a cat scan and my whole brain was lit up. I do have an ability to remember things quite vividly. I told the doctor at the ward in St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, Washington to share his scan with other universities but not the government...
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:21 AM   #19
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Well, there are people in India who can supposedly recite the entire Ramayana and the Gita by heart. A lot of the religious texts in the east are usually rendered by rote and the verse structure and chantic nature of rendition aids in the process. Quite and admirable feat, but nothing unnatural about it.
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:42 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by manofthesea View Post
I "died" last year. Flat lined(they shocked me 6 times and were ready to call it)..the doctor did a cat scan and my whole brain was lit up. I do have an ability to remember things quite vividly. I told the doctor at the ward in St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, Washington to share his scan with other universities but not the government...
If you had flat lined, it would be pointless to shock. That's a TV thing. They are call Defibrillators. For when you heart is fibrillating, not beating normally. It quite literally shocks your heart back (stuns it) and hope that it comes back into a normal pattern. If the heart is stopped, it's pointless to shock it as it is already stunned.

I really don't know how to tell you this, but the Universities are part of the government.
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Old 14th September 2020, 03:22 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Susheel View Post
Well, there are people in India who can supposedly recite the entire Ramayana and the Gita by heart. A lot of the religious texts in the east are usually rendered by rote and the verse structure and chantic nature of rendition aids in the process. Quite and admirable feat, but nothing unnatural about it.
I don' t know if the Ramayana is longer than the Tipitaka but I would like to see some evidence that people are able to read it from start to end flawlessly and without interruptions as Mingun Sayadaw allegedly did with the Tipitaka.
Not to look as insulting but the net is full of bombastic claims that turn out to be false ("supposedly" is not very reassuring).
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Old 14th September 2020, 05:12 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post

The whole Tipitaka is AFAIK over 2 million words long, so this is why if an human being has really being able to remember it word by word this would be a superhuman ability.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...-20-years-ago/

"Superior autobiographical memory is not a “genius” trait and those in the study do not exhibit better cognition in other realms nor do they count Nobelists among their ranks—one is an actress (Marilu Henner) another is a radio reporter, to name just two. They are not even natural card counters. They perform no better than a control group on tests of short-term memory skills—rote memorization of a string of numbers, for instance."

https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/re...69930c1aaa3242

"The 26-year-old from Brisbane is one of 80 people worldwide with a condition called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), which means she remembers every moment of her life in extraordinary detail.

A Harry Potter fan, Rebecca has memorised every word of all seven books"
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Old 14th September 2020, 06:23 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
I don' t know if the Ramayana is longer than the Tipitaka but I would like to see some evidence that people are able to read it from start to end flawlessly and without interruptions as Mingun Sayadaw allegedly did with the Tipitaka.
Not to look as insulting but the net is full of bombastic claims that turn out to be false ("supposedly" is not very reassuring).
Allegedly.

You're making a supernatural claim based on a story you don't even know is true.

The sad thing is, this is the limit of your supernatural reality. If there were a real magic that augmented human memory, it would have been fully monetized and industrialized by now. The military-industrial complex would have defense contracts for memory wizards. Elon Musk would have eaten their lunch with his memory wizard startup.

But no. All you have is this one apocryphal report. That you can't even document with any reliability. Please.
Edited by Agatha:  Edited for incivility
Come back when you have a magical memory business plan worth investing in.

Last edited by Agatha; 16th September 2020 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 14th September 2020, 06:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
I have tried to explain this.
No human being has ever been able to remember and recite a text even remotely close to the lenght of the whole Tipitaka

Qran: 77000 words
Bible: 800000 words or so

People have been able to remember the Qran.
No human being AFAIK has been able to remember the whole Bible word by word

The whole Tipitaka is AFAIK over 2 million words long, so this is why if an human being has really being able to remember it word by word this would be a superhuman ability.
How's that again? Because you never heard of a comparable memory feat, it must be superhuman?


Remember, you called this monk's memorization "apparent." (Alleged? Ah hell, I'm too weary to scroll up to the OP.) Before we start in on sooperhooman stuff, let's be sure it's even true.*

But if it's really truly actually allegedly apparently superhuman, then what? Where ya goin' with this netfull of carp, MMarco?


*True enough to satisfy believers is not sufficient.
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Last edited by sackett; 14th September 2020 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 14th September 2020, 07:50 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
How's that again? Because you never heard of a comparable memory feat, it must be superhuman?
Don' t know.
But by your antagonizing reply I see I may have stuck a nerve here, I dont know why though..
Have you ever heard of evidence of any human being able to recite by heart any written text of comparable length?
If yes, I would like to know.
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Old 14th September 2020, 07:57 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Allegedly.

You're making a supernatural claim based on a story you don't even know is true.

The sad thing is, this is the limit of your supernatural reality. If there were a real magic that augmented human memory, it would have been fully monetized and industrialized by now. The military-industrial complex would have defense contracts for memory wizards. Elon Musk would have eaten their lunch with his memory wizard startup.

But no. All you have is this one apocryphal report. That you can't even document with any reliability. Please.
Edited by Agatha:  Edited for incivility
Come back when you have a magical memory business plan worth investing in.
Again another very antagonizing and borderline to insulting comment.
I don' t know why as I don' t recall having being insulting to anyone.
I definitely see I have stuck a nerve here, not really my intention.
If you refer to my "supernatural" comment, I was not meaning this in any "magic-involved" way, I meant as "feat that is way beyond what is usually considered possible by conventional wisdom".
And yes, I was not even sure if it is true or not, just interested in investigating.
Which is why I came here in first place.
Not to convince you of anything, just to ask people who may know more than me.
Please refrain from commenting if this makes you so nervous..

Last edited by Agatha; 16th September 2020 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 14th September 2020, 10:29 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
And yes, I was not even sure if it is true or not, just interested in investigating.
Well investigate for us. The Sino-Japanese Canon is the largest in volume. What is the exact volume of words of the (Burmese) language version memorised by Mingun Sayadaw in Myanmar?

If you can't even do that, you can't really claim anything outstanding about this bloke's memory at all.
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Old 14th September 2020, 10:58 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
Don' t know.
But by your antagonizing reply I see I may have stuck a nerve here, I dont know why though..
Have you ever heard of evidence of any human being able to recite by heart any written text of comparable length?
If yes, I would like to know.
From a quick google, the Harry Potter books in total contain over a million words.

https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many...-harry-potter/

I linked the article above of a girl who has memorised them all. My evidence is just as good as your evidence.
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Old 14th September 2020, 11:48 PM   #29
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@MMarco: it's your use of the word supernatural to describe an ability that, if it exists, would be perfectly natural (albeit rare and remarkable) that is raising hackles.

Most posters here understand the word supernatural as per this dictionary definition:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dic...h/supernatural

Quote:
caused by forces that cannot be explained by science:

Ghosts and evil spirits are supernatural.

She is said to have supernatural powers and to be able to communicate with the dead.
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Old 15th September 2020, 01:08 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
@MMarco: it's your use of the word supernatural to describe an ability that, if it exists, would be perfectly natural (albeit rare and remarkable) that is raising hackles.

Most posters here understand the word supernatural as per this dictionary definition:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dic...h/supernatural
Oh, I see.
If this is what creates issues, then let me rephrase the previous comment about "supernatural abilities" with the phrase "abilities vastly outside what currently believed as possible".
Would this solve the issue and make me more accepted here ?

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Old 15th September 2020, 01:09 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by RolandRat View Post
From a quick google, the Harry Potter books in total contain over a million words.

https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many...-harry-potter/

I linked the article above of a girl who has memorised them all. My evidence is just as good as your evidence.
I have never offered any evidence and never said I had offered any evidence
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Old 15th September 2020, 02:27 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
Oh, I see.

If this is what creates issues, then let me rephrase the previous comment about "supernatural abilities" with the phrase "abilities vastly outside what currently believed as possible".

Would this solve the issue and make me more accepted here ?



No because that's just your paraphrase of "superhuman".
It's an impressive feat, to be sure, but no reason to go overboard.
Congratulate the man on the years he dedicated to this task. I do. But just because I, and I suspect most, lack the memory (not to mention the free time) to do the same thing is no reason to believe there aren't many, many people who could.
It's a tremendous feat of rote memorization. Cool.
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Old 15th September 2020, 05:13 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by manofthesea View Post
I "died" last year. Flat lined(they shocked me 6 times and were ready to call it)..the doctor did a cat scan and my whole brain was lit up. I do have an ability to remember things quite vividly. I told the doctor at the ward in St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, Washington to share his scan with other universities but not the government...
How did they do a cat scan when they were shocking you? Are you aware what a cat scan is and what it can detect?
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Old 15th September 2020, 06:16 AM   #34
alfaniner
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
No because that's just your paraphrase of "superhuman".
It's an impressive feat, to be sure, but no reason to go overboard.
Congratulate the man on the years he dedicated to this task. I do. But just because I, and I suspect most, lack the memory (not to mention the free time) to do the same thing is no reason to believe there aren't many, many people who could.
It's a tremendous feat of rote memorization. Cool.
Kudos to you for being so magnanimous. (I'm being sincere here, not sarcastic). I for one think (if true) it's an incredible, even appalling, waste of time and effort. Granted, there are many people that spend weeks, months, or years training to achieve a certain goal. But most of the time those goals benefit oneself or society. I don't seen the ultimate benefit here.
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Old 15th September 2020, 06:23 AM   #35
theprestige
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
Oh, I see.
If this is what creates issues, then let me rephrase the previous comment about "supernatural abilities" with the phrase "abilities vastly outside what currently believed as possible".
Would this solve the issue and make me more accepted here ?

: thumbsup :
Solves it for me, anyway.

So.

"Abilities vastly outside what currently believed as possible."

It might help advance the discussion further if you could provide a citation for what is currently believed as possible. The consensus of the responses you've received so far seems to be that it's unlikely, unproven, but within what's currently believed as possible.

Do you mean that you don't believe it's possible? Or do you mean that the majority of experts in the scientific scientific community don't believe it's possible?
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Old 15th September 2020, 06:47 AM   #36
sackett
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No, MMarco, you don't touch any nerves; on the contrary, you create a tired impatience, a weary feeling of, "Aw man, here comes another claim for nothing much, backed up by much nothing." That hardly rises to the level of hostility.
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Old 15th September 2020, 06:48 AM   #37
Leftus
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
How did they do a cat scan when they were shocking you? Are you aware what a cat scan is and what it can detect?
If your heart is not beating, you do not have the time to be wheeled down to the imaging department. I'd be curious why a doctor would go from heart stoppage to "let's get a CT scan of the noggin to be sure" with someone doing CPR, from the full mount on the gurney?

From heart stoppage to brain death is about 6 minutes. A CT scan of the head takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, not including prep or travel time. If the doctor though someone was still alive, they would kill them with that test.
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Old 15th September 2020, 07:19 AM   #38
xterra
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MMarco,

For a reasonable account of memorization techniques and a description of people and societies that hold large amounts of information in memory and transmit it orally over generations, see The Memory Code, by Lynne Kelley, published 2017, which is based on her PhD research.

Part of the book deals with somewhat more-speculative hypotheses, but nothing that approaches supernatural explanations.

The fact that we as individuals have not heard of such things doesn't make them impossible or even improbable.

Edit: Other resources:

Wikipedia has an article entitled "World Memory Championship"

International Association of Memory ( https://iam-stats.org/) has lists of record memory accomplishments
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Old 15th September 2020, 07:31 AM   #39
RolandRat
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Originally Posted by Leftus View Post
If your heart is not beating, you do not have the time to be wheeled down to the imaging department. I'd be curious why a doctor would go from heart stoppage to "let's get a CT scan of the noggin to be sure" with someone doing CPR, from the full mount on the gurney?

From heart stoppage to brain death is about 6 minutes. A CT scan of the head takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, not including prep or travel time. If the doctor though someone was still alive, they would kill them with that test.
It's funny when people debunk their own nonsense
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Old 15th September 2020, 07:33 AM   #40
Leftus
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Originally Posted by MMarco View Post
Don' t know.
But by your antagonizing reply I see I may have stuck a nerve here, I dont know why though..
Have you ever heard of evidence of any human being able to recite by heart any written text of comparable length?
If yes, I would like to know.
Listening to some 80's music right now. I know an astonishingly large amount of the lyrics. Does it not count because it's not one work, or because I didn't learn it by reading a lyrics sheet?

Most of the works that came out of the middle ages were entirely stored in human brains. The main difference is that we don't need bards and storytellers to memorize all of their works anymore. We have YouTube and Netflix and other VOD.
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