Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

don't confuse me with the facts

Tyler Cowen in the Wilson Quarterly:

Many critics charge that multitasking makes us less efficient. Researchers say that periodically checking your e-mail lowers your cognitive performance level to that of a drunk. If such claims were broadly correct, multitasking would pretty rapidly disappear simply because people would find that it didn’t make sense to do it. Multitasking is flourishing, and so are we.

Right, because human beings don't ever do things that don't make sense. We’re rational actors through and through. Addictive online behavior a problem? Impossible. The power of the variable-interval reinforcement schedule of email? Hogwash.

All of which means that any study which says that we engage in unproductive or damaging behavior can simply dismissed out of hand. “Multitasking is flourishing, and so are we” — the 21st-century version of “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.”

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