A pseudoscientific cliche

Word count: 278 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. Here is a sentence by Joshua Foer I read recently that I’d happily imitate.  

I recently finished reading the delightful non-fiction book, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. (A subscriber of mine, Subha Ray, recommended I read it and I’m so glad he did!)

The title comes from one of the images Foer used to toggle his memory. Memory champions are trained to take unforgettable and/or amusing images (such as moonwalking with a famous person)  to remind themselves of something else. Foer used tricks like this to become the 2006 USA memory champion.

And in documenting his memorable success, he also gave me my sentence of the week:

One book even pronounced that it could show me how to use the “other 90 percent” of my brain, which is one of those pseudoscientific clichés that makes about as much sense as saying I could be taught to use the other 90 percent of my hand. 

I like his use of metaphor here which is both sneaky and delightful. Haven’t you heard others talk about brain use in percentages? Did the idea ever strike you as ridiculous before? I’d heard such talk plenty of times and never really evaluated it. But as soon as Foer made the comparison to use of the hand, I was struck by how nonsensical the idea was.

Not just a clever sentence but, also, a clever idea for a book. Read it if you haven’t already.