Scott Flansburg - the Human Calculator

Published on Saturday, February 04, 2006 in , ,

Scott Flansburg on OprahWith an unusual interest such as training your brain to work more effectively, it's not often I'm able to locate videos of people performing such feats. About the only other time I've been able to do this on this blog is the entry that included video of Anton Zellman's memory feats.

A little searching, however, has thankfully yielded some results! Scott Flansburg, known as the Human Calculator sells his Math Magic course on his website. To help promote the course, he has included several videos on the site.

All the videos in this entry are only available in Windows Media Player format. For Windows computers, you can download the player here. For Mac OS X users, I highly recommend using Flip4Mac WMV, which allows Windows Media files to play in your QuickTime Player.

We'll start with Scott's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, which lasts about 12.5 minutes. He starts at the Tempo Cafe in Chicago, with some quick multiplication and division problems. Next, he moves on to a grocery store, where he's challenged to figure out the total grocery bill, including the tax! In the studio, he does the calendar feat, as well as the "constant" feat (you'll see what that is when you watch the video), with both two- and three-digit numbers!

In the segment, he also shares how he impressed a teacher when he hadn't been listening to the math lesson. It reminds me somewhat of the Art History test in which I was accused of cheating.

He also mentions one of my top pet peeves here: he claims that we only use 5-10% of our brains. This is an oft-repeated saying with little basis. A quick trip to the Straight Dope and/or Snopes.com will fill you in on why I hate hearing this overused cliché.

He closes by teaching a handy way (used in sneaky ways by magicians quite often) to check your addition to make sure you're right.

Among the other videos on his site, you can see the "constant" feat with a more impressive ending (Dial-up or Broadband). On a Discovery Channel show called "More Than Human", there was an even more impressive ending on this video. The person on the calculator with whom Scott was competing came up with a number that wasn't even a multiple of the original! Not only did Scott pick up on this right away, but also mentioned the number she mis-entered!

There's also some great video of Scott teaching some school students the way addition should be taught (Dial-up or Broadband), to give you an idea of how simple and powerful these principles can be.

I'll let you look through the other videos yourself. Although I do recommend the rare and strangely fascinating video of Alice Cooper talking about how he sees math (Dial-up or Broadband).

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