You too can absorb the Encyclopedia Britannica using simple tricks taught by the Memory Masters.

You too can absorb the Encyclopedia Britannica using simple tricks taught by the Memory Masters.

The Know-It-All, by A.J. Jacobs

The man who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica*
He read it, but to remember it Visualisation is the key!

Discounting his childhood collection of airsickness bags from every major airport, A.J. Jacob says he has never achieved anything particularly impressive in his life.

He's in his mid thirties, an editor with Esquire magazine, and has began the long slow slide into dumbness...

...but ...all is about to change!.

He sets himself the task of becoming the smartest person in the world.


... by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, cover to cover, from A to Z.

His book is a collection of snippets from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, interspersed with the effects of this newly amassed knowledge.

He simply can't resist introducing these facts into conversations with family and friends, or at meetings with colleagues.

The first word in the Encyclopaedia Britannica is a-ak

Ancient Eastern Asian music, see gagaku, ...should he flip ahead to volume 6?

No, he decides to continue reading through the A's and if "A-Ak" does come up in conversation, he'll bluff it out with "Oh, I love gagaku" or "Did you hear that Madonna's going to record an a-ak track on her next CD."

By the time he has finished the F's, A.J.'s joined Mensa (failed the admission test but qualified on "prior evidence", his SAT scores from 1986) and if you read this far in the Encyclopedia Britannica, you will have amassed lots of interesting facts:e.g. -


In a tribe on the island of Santa Maria, old men used to stand by with bows and arrows and shoot every dancer who made a mistake. The perfect way to raise the stakes on American Idol.

You'll find out likely ideas on how to get your own entry into the Encyclopedia Britannica:-

Get beheaded
Explore the Arctic
Write some poems
Win the Nobel Prize
Get castrated (men only)

and you'll also be on first name terms with A.J. Jacob's family. Is Julie, his wife, pregnant yet?

Three months later and A.J. Jacob reaches the Encyclopedia Britannica's G's, gagaku turns out to be a disappointment. but there's: -

Supposed to be voiceless but is capable of low call notes and moans, When playing with the kids, a cow says moo, a cat says meow and a camel say [imitate nonsexual low moan].

A.J. decides to air his burgeoning knowledge by applying to compete on the quiz show Jeopardy only to discover that he's disqualified because he's interviewed its host Alex Trebek for a magazine article.

Not having a great deal of success with a Rapid Reading course, A.J. Jacob tries to improve his learning ability with David Farrow's course "Gain a Photographic Memory in 1 Night".

Dave's in the Guiness Book of World Records for memorizing the order of 52 packs of shuffled cards, that's 2704 cards.

So let's try Dave's memory technique for remembering, which is (of course) based on visualising goofy images as we get you to do in the 200 Words a Day! Language Learning courses.

"The properties of an anti-neutrino particle"

The anti-neutrino sounds sort of like "ant" and "newt", so visualize an ant carrying a newt on its back.

...The anti-neutrino is defined as a subatomic particle:

Picture the ant and newt driving an atomic submarine. has no mass:

Visualize a priest on the submarine waving his arms to indicate that there will be no communion today...

...and is emitted during Beta decay:

The priest is holding a Betamax (the old recorder superseded by VHS) and it's in desperate need of repair.

A.J. Jacob concludes that although the system is sound, he'd need 65,000 visualisations so he reverts to his current system, squinting the eyes and looking really hard at the page hoping that a bunch of facts stick to the cerebral cortex.

[We at 200 Words a Day! also know it is a sound system and is the most efficient way to remember things... goofy scenes which we then convert into cartoon word-association pictures to speed up your foreign language learning!]

There's lots more interesting précised encyclopaedic facts to follow: -

motion pictures

The first true talkie wasn't the Jazz Singer but The Lights of New York 1928, more myth shattering from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

There's an account of A.J.'s performance on "Who wants to be a Millionaire", but unfortunately he doesn't win $1 million.

Do you know what component of blood is an erythrocyte?

If you do, you should have been his phone a friend instead of Eric.

So if you want to accumulate lots of useful/useless information but can't devote a year or so of your life to reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica, you can always read A.J.'s abbreviated version.

How the 200 Words a Day Accelerated Language Learning team would approach learning the entire Encyclopedia Britannica!

If A.J. Jacob had only approached us** (with a large cheque for labour and a fair bit of lead-time), we'd have done the difficult part and provided the 65,000 triggers needed, not only in text form but with accompanying pictures and sound files because using more senses in learning improves your memory recall.

We'd have added a Student Notes feature; to add your own notes to our definitions. For example, I amended upon Dave's definition to better suit my own needs, and came up with my own notes: -
The newt has a tiny head = particle (part little)

The Betamax is going BEEP with bits dropping off= emitted and Beta decay

We'd have grouped similar concepts into small lessons and provided a periodic testing schedule. Sorry, but for those without photographic memories, a single read of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is not going to commit the information to long term memory.

Experts agree that a review 24 hours after the initial learning is the key to committing information to long term memory.

We'd have provided a dictionary to look up any of the 65,000 definitions alphabetically. We'd have added lots of other useful features, such as a test each week on your Worst Definitions, remember these definitions and they'll be missing from next week's test, otherwise they'll feature again.

We'd then offer a 365 day unconditional refund if not fully satisfied with our product. Our foreign language vocabulary building courses have all these features and more. With over 1000 words/visualisations on each CD, the cost is less than 5 cents / 3 pence per word.

**Well actually to achieve the goal of making the Encyclopedia Britannica with a load of 65,000 Memory Triggers we would need a huge team of cartoon artists, and recording artists, and a massive budget that would need a bank account matching that of Bill Gates.

*Spelling of Encyclopedia Britannica

Yes, yes I know some people spell it Encyclopedia Britannica, and others Encyclopaedia Britannica. I've used both, so as not to appear unfair!

by Tom White
200 Words a Day!

You could memorize the entire Encyclopedia Britannica using the systems incorporated in to the 200 Words a Day! systems | 200 Words a Day Accelerated French Learning | 200 Words a Day Accelerated Spanish Learning | 200 Words a Day Accelerated German Learning | 200 Words a Day Accelerated Italian Learning | 200 Words a Day Accelerated Welsh Learning |
200 Words a Day. Accelerated Language Learning
Remembering the entire Encyclopedia Britannica

32 Alverton, Great Linford, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK14 5EF, United Kingdom ©2006-2009.

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