Punch,  3 (1842), 81.

Mental Science. New and Important Discovery!



Essay, Drollery


Psychology, Education, Gravity, Physics

    Mr Punch announces his system of 'artificial memory' or 'Mnemonics for the Many'. This hinges on 'associating facts with sensations' and typically involves inflicting pain on oneself until the information to be committed to memory or a task to be undertaken has been accomplished. Examples include the following: to remind a student that the library at Alexandria was burnt in 47 BC he should 'thrust a large needle, as far as he can, into any inconvenient part of his person'; to remind oneself to visit the doctor and ask him to examine your child, 'button a few stinging-nettles up into your breeches next to the skin'. Argues that his system involves so few sensations 'of the pleasing class' because 'the paths to learning must be strewn with thorns—not flowers'. Notes that like Isaac Newton's discovery of gravitation, his discovery occurred after an object struck his head. Notes that his system is applicable to lower animals as well as humans.

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