On 04/24/2012 08:25 PM, prawnster wrote:
> The Wall Street Journal, which simply cannot resist smuggling a veiled
> or not-so-veiled reference to evolution into almost any sciency story,
> really displayed some serious cognitive dissonance in today's
> fishwrap. To wit, an excerpt:
> "The Brain Is Wired to Focus on Just One Thing; Which Tasks are Easier
> to Combine"
> <....These findings, published in the journal Nature last week,
> underscore why people aren't very good at multitasking -- our brains
> are wired for "selective attention" and can focus on only one thing at
> a time. That innate ability has helped humans survive in a world
> buzzing with visual and auditory stimulation. But we keep trying to
> push the limits with multitasking, sometimes with tragic
> consequences. Drivers talking on cellphones, for example, are four
> times as likely to get into traffic accidents as those who aren't.
> ....Utah researchers have identified a rare group of "supertaskers" --
> [an] estimated 2.5% of the population -- who seem to attend to more
> than one thing with ease. Many more people think they can effectively
> multitask, but they are really shifting their attention rapidly betwen
> two things and not getting the full effect of either, experts say.>
> So which is it, Darwinists? If the ability to multitask is so
> adaptalicious and advantageous, then why are so few people good
> multitaskers? If the inability to multitask creates dangers for
> people then wouldn't that inability have been bred out of existence by
> now, or at least down to a severe minority of, say, 2.5% of the
> world's population?
> You see my problem here, don't you? In a single paragraph, the writer
> explains that people's innate ability to focus on one thing at a time
> helps us survive, and later in that same paragraph--same paragraph!--
> notes how this single-minded focus is dangerous and deadly.
It can be dangerous when people try to push the envelope and bite off
more than they can chew simultaneously. We are supposed to attend to
salient inputs and it is advantageous to filter out the extraneous. When
we subjectively prioritize the cellphone conversation input to the
dtriment of the input from traffic...well you figure it out.
> I can
> think of many ways that an ability to multitask is advantageous and I
> can think of no downside to it. Your move, Darwinistas.
Our tasking abilities are limited by the ability to process information.
Multitasking means a rapid flit between tasks serially and can lead to
not doing either properly if you must put too much cognitive effort into
them (though rote subconscious routines like walking could be done while
attending to something requiring more effort like listening to an
Some people might be able to flit more quickly in a serial manner and
make it seem they can do two things in true parallel. But using a
computer analogy, if you bog down the RAM with too much and/or the
processor is slow, two elaborate and memory consuming tasks (like
Powerpoint animation and instant messaging with video) could freeze the
system. The swapping to and fro from RAM might start causing the hard
drive to thrash, which is like your adrenaline and cortisol going
through the roof and the stress causes malfunction. Or a deadlock state
might occur when tasks compete and get to a point where they torpedo one
> By the way, the author is Melinda Beck. You've seen evidence now that
> hers is a mind capable of extraordinary self-contradiction. My guess
> would be that she multitasked somewhere between the beginning and the
> end of the paragraph in question and didn't realize she was scribbling
> nonsense. But an editor should have caught it.
You could have provided a link to the full article:
The focus of the majority of the article was on the problems with
multi-tasking and "inattentional blindness" and she referenced the
"invisible gorilla experiment"
As for "super-taskers" it appears rare ~2.5%. A sub-group could co-exist
in a population alongside a majority without this strength. The author
mentioned this as an aside to the larger gist of the article.
Here's more along those lines:
[quote]The authors of the study suggest that there may be a set of
biological, genetic and perhaps behavioral factors that contribute to
efficient multitasking, and that maybe some of these factors can even be
learned to make the rest of us better at doing two things at once.[/quote]
It's possible that multitasking is a learned capacity, yet some people
could be blessed with a genetic predisposition for this that facilitates
it. And it is not necessarily the case that the ability for directly
selected for if it were genetic. It could be a byproduct of something
And from the second page of the Time.com article:
[quote]Bavelier studies the effect of action-video-game playing on
people's ability to split attention and multitask. In her work, she has
found that people who devote five hours or more per week to such action
games for a year show the same heightened performance abilities as
Watson and Strayer's supertaskers.[/quote]