Intro to The Major Pegging System

Memory is a rather tricky thing, sometimes so clear and at other times failing us completely. I am writing a series of posts on Body Hacking: Improving Memory, but this post is specifically on how to memorize numbers with a system called pegging. When you have mastered this system there are all kinds of different things you can use it for, but think of this as your basic tool. Combined with the Memory Palace Method it is the best way to memorize large sets of information When you read you begin with ABC, when you sing you begin with Do Re Mi, and when you want to memorize pi to 100 digits or huge lists of information, you begin with the Major pegging system.

Numbers 0-9 Are Phonetic:
Ok, how this works is that each number between 0-99 is associated with a word in your mind. This seems like a big step (and it is) but there is a cheat that we use to make it a little bit easier. We give each number between 0 and 9 a phonetic value. I’ll also throw in some hints that found useful while I was learning. Yes, hints on how to remember the structure use to remember. Stick with it, I promise it will all work out! Ok, watch this:
0 is an S or Z sound. Remember that the word Zero starts with Z
1 is a T or D sound. Think about a 1 being drawn with a straight downwards line like the letters t or d
2 is an N sound. Think about how the letter N has two points on the “ground”
3 is an M sound. The letter M has three points. You could also imagine a 3 rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise
4 is an R sound. This is a bit trickier. Some people think of spelling F O U RRRR. I personally have started to think that a 4 looks a bit like an R, but maybe I’ve just been doing this too long!
5 is an L sound. Know your Roman Numerals? 50 is L
6 is a Ch, Sh, or J sound. This one is still my hardest letter. Just memorize it!
7 is a K sound. The letter K is made with two Ks, one facing down and one facing up
8 is an F or V sound. This one is like 6, just do it!
9 is a B or a P sound. If you rotate or flip the 9 you can make a b or a p
Whew! Still with me? Good, read on, because now it gets fun!
Add in Vowels to Form Words:
By using these sounds and interspersing vowels, any number between 0-99 can be given a word. for example, 27 could be “neck,” while 52 could be translated as “lion.” These words can be used to make images to activate your visual memory. It is easier to remember a “moat rat leaping over a notch in a piece of lamb”  then it is to remember 3.141592653, the first 10 digits of pi. Imagine the picture clearly in your head, try to see the rat sailing through the air over the lamb, still dripping water from the moat where it has lived all its life. If you imagine this vividly enough you can implant it in your long term visual memory, the most powerful memory tool you naturally have! If you can spend a few hours drilling those phonetic number translations, you will easily be able to translate that out to the digits of pi almost instantly!
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jorel314/
Expanding to Peg Words: 0-99
But it gets better! It’s a bit more work, but the payoffs are greater. You are welcome to stick with the method above, but taking it a step further will allow you to do much greater acts of memorization. Sticking with just that would be like if you only ever learned how to do addition, it would take you a long time to figure out what six groups of seven apples added up to.
Most people who use this technique actually assign each number between 0 and 99 a set word, called a “peg word.” While this system can be done with random words I find it most easier to use the phonetic numbers to help (It is totally possible to memorize a list of 100 random words, but that’s for another article!) While you will need more time to train and get used to this system it will result in much faster translations in your head. You should use whatever words fit most comfortably for you, but I will tell you mine as a guide. If I use “man” for 32 and you want to use moon, go right ahead; just make sure it is something that logically works in your mind.
Here are Adancingfool’s 0-100 peg words (based off of common lists found other places, adapted for my needs
My Peg Words:
0 sea |1tie |2 knee |3 me |4 raw |5 law |6 jaw |7 key |8 fee |9 pie
10 toe |11tit |12 tin |13 time |14 tire |15 tail |16 ditch |17 dike |18 dove |19 dip
20 nose |21 nut |22 nun |23 name |24 nero |25 nail |26 notch |27 neck |28 knife |29 knob
30 moss |31 moat |32 man |33 mom |34 mire |35 mail |36 match |37 muck |38 movie |39 map
40 rose |41 rat |42 rhino |43 ram |44 rare |45 rail |46 roach |47 rake |48 roof |49 rope
50 lasso |51 lid |52 lion |53 lamb |54 lure |55 lily |56 latch |57 lake |58 love |59 leap
60 cheese |61 jot |62 chain |63 jaw |64 jar |65 jail |66 judge |67 jack |68 chief |69 jeep
70 kiss |71 cat |72 can |73 comb |74 car |75 kill |76 couch |77 cake |78 coffee |79 cup
80 face |81 fat |82 fun |83 foam |84 fire |85 file |86 fish |87 fuck |88 fife |89 VP
90 bus |91 bat |92 bone |93 bum |94 bear |95 bell |96 beach |97 book |98 puff |99 pipe
Using Peg Words in Stories:
Wowee! Ok, so that is the list, feel free to change as you see fit! Remember, make the pictures in your head vivid and they will stick longer. Try making up stories. For example, my friend Sarah eats raw dove doughnuts! It is pretty gross and messy and there are wings sticking out of the side! Not only that, but she dips it in her coffee! Actually the story isn't true at all, but the image of Sarah with her raw dove doughnut, and sunday paper, sitting at the table drinking coffee is (unfortunatly or not) almost impossible to get out of my head. As a result I will always remember her birthday is April 18, 1978 (4/18/78)! Start practicing and I promise I will have more on memory up soon for you to expand your mind with body hacking!
One tool that has been useful for me in this process is called NumberThink and is availible for free on the iPhone store! It quizes you on words (but only word to number quizing unfortunatly) and lets you set your own peg words or use a pre-set list! Check it out!

Memory Hack Series:
Total recall of an entire deck of cards? Totally possible with a few hours of work! You may never have heard of competitive memory championships, but you probably want to improve your memory. If you are like most people you occasionally (or if you are like I was, rather frequently) have trouble remembering the names of people you meet, to call your mother, what her telephone number is, what you were supposed to buy at the grocery store or the ever present “where did I put my keys?” Maybe you are striving for more, memorizing pi to 100 digits or the order of a deck of cards. You may not believe me yet, but with a little work all of these tasks will become easy! I did it, and so can you! This article is the first in a series of articles on improving memory and is also part of the Body Hacks series where you learn things like Swearing to Reduce Pain or How to Itch a Tickling Throat