Daniel Tammet—The Boy With The Incredible Brain

The story of Daniel Tammet’s amazing, amazing, amazing brain.  Tammet can master a new language in a week and he can memorize pi to thousands of places and do extraordinarily complicated math problems in his head simply seeing the numbers and other images and patterns in his mind.

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There are 5 parts, be sure to watch them all.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • mikespeir

    Smart alecky kid! Anybody brighter than me is a smart aleck, and there are a disconcerting lot of them.

    Seriously, though, I don’t have any trouble seeing how people could take this as evidence of the supernatural. I mean, the word “genius” itself presupposes supernatural entities.

  • atwitter

    Um.

    I have no idea about numbers, but… I must say I’m absolutely unimpressed by the sensasionalist reporting, and by the claims that he can “learn a language in a week”.

    1. He can speak 9 languages? That actually isn’t that many. I can speak 10 (half of them is dead, but still). Many of my professors can speak as many as about 20. Languages: they’re not that hard to learn, after the fourth one =_=
    2. This is a huge misrepresentation in any case, I think. There’s a huge difference between having learned about grammar and stuff, from dictionaries and books (as the film very naively shows him doing), and actually being able to communicate. I don’t mean just about socioliguistic stuff, and cultural differences. Many languages have completely different spoken and written language (Chech, Japanese, to a certain extent, German, French), some of them even use different verb conjugations in the written language (Japanese).

    So. It’s certainly remarkable, and the guy can do some awesome stuff, but, the science reporting? Uh-huh =_=

  • atwitter

    Um.

    I have no idea about numbers, but… I must say I’m absolutely unimpressed by the sensasionalist reporting, and by the claims that he can “learn a language in a week”.

    1. He can speak 9 languages? That actually isn’t that many. I can speak 10 (half of them is dead, but still). Many of my professors can speak as many as about 20. Languages: they’re not that hard to learn, after the fourth one =_=
    2. This is a huge misrepresentation in any case, I think. There’s a huge difference between having learned about grammar and stuff, from dictionaries and books (as the film very naively shows him doing), and actually being able to communicate. I don’t mean just about socioliguistic stuff, and cultural differences. Many languages have completely different spoken and written language (Czech, Japanese, to a certain extent, German, French), some of them even use different verb conjugations in the written language (Japanese).

    So. It’s certainly remarkable, and the guy can do some awesome stuff, but, the science reporting? Uh-huh =_=

  • Daniel Fincke

    Hey, I’m more than willing to watch the story about the Incredible Brain of SendaiAnonymous :) too but I think the point is that unlike committed linguists who spend their lives swimming around in multiple languages, this kid just sponges them up in a week. Of course there are cultural issues he might not be able to grasp in a week, but so what? What’s interesting is how fast his brain assimilates, processes, and can implement new knowledge. I mean, one week is just amazing. And if you can do it too, then you’re amazing too.

    And they showed that he didn’t just use books but he had a one-on-one tutor and he lived in the country for a week paying close attention to how the people used the language.

  • atwitter

    Gah, there’s nothing incredible at all about my brain =_=

    Yeah, but he sponged in n a week in which he was totally commited to only sponging that language.
    Also, dammit, one of the European languages I actually can’t understand. Whyyy did they have to choose Icelandic? Blast.

    Also, I dunno, but I think that sponging a lot of a foreign language is what anybody could do in a week. Perhaps not some super-awesome level, but definitely enough for some basic conversation.

    I’m not saying the guy isn’t awesome. It’s just the science reporting that gets me, like the narrator saying “and he can… speak NINE LANGUAGES!11!!” in an awed voice which I’d personally reserve for “and he can move things with his mind”.

    Also, define “know a language”, because, seriously. They just say he “knows” the languages, and I can’t check what he knows, and it’s slowly eating away at meeeeeeeee.

    (fail, I know, I know)


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