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How One Man Memorized 60,000-Word Poem and Remembered All of It a Decade Later

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Paradise Lost
(Culture Club/Getty Images)

 

In 1992, 58-year-old John Basinger started memorizing John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. Sixty-thousand words and 3,000 hours later, Basinger, a trained actor, was able to recite it all from memory.

For posterity’s sake, he ended up performing the feat in 2001 over a three-day period. Eventually, Basinger attracted the attention of psychologist John Seamon, who studied the actor’s uncanny ability to memorize the printed word. He landed on the idea of “deep encoding.” What is it, and how was Basinger able to perform this seemingly impossible feat? Find out here.