Tuesday, August 12, 2008

John Medina's Brain Rules: Dude, Get A Clue

This book is brilliant.

But page 214 says something crazy:

There is no question that multiple cues, dished up via different senses, enhance learning. They speed up responses, increase accuracy, improve stimulation detection, and enrich encoding at the moment of learning. Yet we still aren't harnessing these benefits on a regular basis in our classrooms and boardrooms.

Here's the ranting, direct from Twitter:

john medina's book is lots of brilliant mixed up with tons of scientist being obtuse. he says multimedia makes strongest memory impact.

then he goes on like "blah blah blah school should teach lessons using multimedia." what a stupid fucking thing to say.

if he was living in reality rather than his own head he'd say "and this is why people remember movies and music better than school."

or even "and this is why the people who deliver their messages via multimedia become stars."

this fucking idiot really thinks art has no purpose, and the artist's use of multimedia trumping school's use of repetition is COINCIDENCE.

artists use multimedia because of this memory effect. because art is more important than the bullshit they feed you in school. DUH.

John Medina isn't really an idiot - I was just pissed off. But he's definitely perpetrating a classic, geeky mistake here, so dumb and literal it boggles the mind. It's absurd to say that nobody out there is leveraging the powerful effect that multisensory experiences have on memory. I can show you a counterexample:

Yes? This is obvious? Two senses, vision and sound. At a concert, the sweat and smoke makes it three, adding odor - the strongest sense when it comes to memory, according to the research Medina covers in his book.

It is also obvious, I hope, that if an entertainer gets you to remember their song, they make money? Have you noticed how many bad 80s songs you have on your iPod? Are they there purely for their musical content, or is there a nostalgia thing going on?

Medina's brilliant, and there's nothing to prevent you from applying his ideas in the classroom or the boardroom. My presentation style is based on his ideas, and I have to tell you, it works a charm, although people say my presentations aren't presentations at all, but performances.

But, speaking as an artist and a programmer, the compartmentalizing people do frequently amazes me. I see this kind of madness all the time. I'm going to talk about the powerful effect multisensory experience has on memory and specifically emphasize that smell trumps all other senses. Then I'm going to ask, "how can we use this?" as if nobody was already using it.

You'd think noticing the obvious was difficult.

Honestly, what does this nimrod think we're going to do?

From the bottom of this same demented page, #214:

We saw that touch and smell are capable of making powerful contributions to the learning process. What if we began to think seriously about how to adopt them into the classroom, perhaps in combination with more traditional learning presentations? Would we capture their boosting effects, too?


1) Artists do not exist.

2) The world needs scratch-and-sniff history textbooks.

I don't think so!