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With this book I present the experience of half a century in connection with psychology. As for memory, I do not pretend to have invented it. Nonsense in connection with this subject has been discovered and written about since antiquity, and, if collected, would fill a modest library. What I have endeavored to do was to introduce common sense into the treatment of this subject. Nature is of course natural, i.e., logical, in its proceedings, and does not beat about the bush.
Observation and experience would show, to those who study the workings of the mind, that impressions and ideas which are there simultaneously, or such as follow each other immediately, adhere together because they recall each other even after the lapse of years.
Since then, these ideas associate themselves naturally, it would be more than useless to bind them artificially in the manner shown further on in the history of Mnemonics, where every means is proposed for so doing, except the natural one.
The various systems and tricks, according to the fancy of the inventor, lay much stress on ciation of ideas," as if the ideas waited for you to introduce them to each other.
Having made a study of the nature of the mind, I have found that the true association of ideas is a natural process, and one quite independent of our co-operation, just like the circulation of the blood and other natural phenomena. All that there is for us to do is to discover the reason why certain ideas blend or associate themselves with others, more or less, whilst others again, do not.
Aristotle already pointed out that similar or contrasted ideas, and such as follow each other immediately, recall each other; but he did not give the reason, which is that they blended of their own accord.
This theory, and the practical application of it to the acquirement of knowledge in a natural and consequently easy way, is the object of this book. How far I have succeeded I must leave my readers to judge.
Old errors are always difficult to eradicate. Notwithstanding this, I have succeeded in making my ideas on the subject acceptable to authorities on education, because I have shown the practical value of it in teaching and learning, i.e., in developing the mind. Amongst others, Rev. Edward Thring, Head Master of Uppingham School, in England, and a great reformer of schools and methods of education, wrote:
“Quite apart from the results, I should consider much that Dr. Pick says most excellent as a mere mental exercise. Anybody can understand and practise his rules : whilst the doing so alters completely the whole manner of dealing with subjects which have to be learned by rote, and turns much drudgery into intelligent and not unpleasant work. If every educated person
was trained on Dr. Pick's plan, the gain would be great, and much useless labor would be spared.”
William James, Professor of Psychology in Harvard University, says of my method :
“ Dr. Pick is a well-known authority on Memory. His lectures are based on solid psychological principles, and there is absolutely no element of charlatanry about them.”
Those who expect that this book will give them at once “the art of never forgetting ” will be disappointed All I can do is to facilitate remembrance and the acquirement of knowledge generally. If I succeed in my efforts, you will agree with all those who have made a special study of our mental faculties and have done me the honor of proclaiming me the only living authority on this subject.
In this preface I owe a word of acknowledgment to my son, Herbert L. Pick, who has been my assistant for several years, and who has suggested many valuable points of comparison and analogy, which will be found useful to all who are anxious to study.
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