Joshua Foer + Daniel Kahneman
Mnemonic Art Tour in the galleries
Karma Chain on the spiral staircase
Program in the theater
Book signing in the cafe
This program is now sold out.
The stand-by list becomes available at the admissions desk exactly two (2) hours before the start of the program. You must be physically present to sign up on the list. Any available tickets will be released to the stand-by list, in order, beginning ten minutes before the start of the program. Each person can purchase up to two tickets. You must be physically present at the time your name is called or your place in line will be forfeited. Unfortunately, we are unable to predict how many tickets, if any, may become available.
Chairman's Circle members of the museum have first priority to purchase tickets for sold-out programs, should tickets become available. Please call 212.620.5000 ext. 344 to inquire about membership.
Joshua Foer was born in Washington, DC and lives in New Haven, CT with his wife Dinah. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Esquire, Slate, Outside, The New York Times, and other publications. He is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world’s wonders and curiosities. He is also the co-founder of the design competition, Sukkah City. His book about becoming the U.S. Memory Champion, Moonwalking with Einstein is his first. He writes, “The U.S. Memory Championship is a rather bizarre contest held each spring in New York City, in which people get together to see who can remember the most names of strangers, the most lines of poetry, the most random digits. I went to the event as a science journalist, to cover what I assumed would be the Super Bowl of savants. But when I talked to the competitors, they told me something really interesting. They weren’t savants. And they didn’t have photographic memories. Rather, they’d trained their memories using ancient techniques. They said anyone could do it. I was skeptical. Frankly, I didn’t believe them. I said, well, if anyone can do it, could you teach me? A guy named Ed Cooke, who has one of the best trained memories in the world, took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about memory techniques. A year later I came back to the contest, this time to try and compete, as a sort of exercise in participatory journalism. I was curious simply to see how well I’d do, but I ended up winning the contest. That really wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Related Press for Joshua Foer: Columbia Nabs Rights to Best-Selling Book Moonwalking With Einstein
Daniel Kahneman is Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, and a fellow of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Dr. Kahneman has held the position of professor of psychology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1970-1978), the University of British Columbia (1978-1986), and the University of California, Berkeley (1986-1994). Dr. Kahneman is a member of the National Academy of Science, the Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the Econometric Society. He has been the recipient of many awards, among them the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association (1982) and the Grawemeyer Prize (2002), both jointly with Amos Tversky, the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (1995), the Hilgard Award for Career Contributions to General Psychology (1995), the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences (2002), and the Lifetime Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association (2007).
Mnemonic Art Tour
Take advantage of a short tour of some paintings in the collection that function as mnemonic devices. The iconography in these paintings serve to reference specific passages in the sutras. That is why most of these works were not meant to be revealed to those who were not already initiates. The tour will include two types of paintings: narratives such as the life of the Buddha, and mandalas which are complex two-dimensional diagrams of one’s multi-dimensional state of mind.
As a prelude to the staged program, we are planning to stage a simple game of ‘telephone’ prior to the session to demonstrate the fallibility of oral transmission and the nature of short-term memory. Each ticket holder will stand on one of the steps of the 108-stepped spiral staircase of the Museum. The guest speaker stands at the base, whispers a short phrase they have prepared to the visitor on the first step, and the phrase would spiral up through the line until it reaches the ear of the scientist. The conversationalists will only reveal the original phrase and the result phrase when on stage in the theater, thus starting the conversation about memory.