Exposing the multitasking myth one doughnut at a time
Updated: February 15, 2012 3:24PM
So this morning, we sipped our java and watched a TV segment from the Auto Show.
A marketer demonstrated a dashboard feature, a James Bond-ish touchscreen
that could direct a satellite for Goldfinger while decking Jackie Chan.
My husband, John Q. Skeptic, snorted: “Trying to work that thing isn’t going to make you crash?”
Agreed. Forget that nonsense. I’d hire that KITT voice from the 1980s show, “Knight Rider.” That car was a modified Pontiac Trans Am. Mine would be a modified Honda van with juice-box stains.
I’d start the conversation pleasantly enough. “What’s our mission today, KITT?”
KITT would be depressed. “To think I turned down the Bourne series for this.”
“How do you take your coffee? Say, are you any relation to a Kit Kat bar?”
“You’re a laugh a minute, Van Mom. One tip: Get the coffee, skip the cruller.”
“But grease and sugar oil my joints.”
“Delusional, Van Mom,” KITT would say.
And we’re delusional thinking we can multitask and not turn into spastic messes. Science has proven multitasking is a myth. Yet we insist we can yak on our cell phones while tapping out replies to emails and listening to music. We think, “I am the Master of my Electronic Universe.”
Brain researchers say, “Think again, oh, deluded, twitchy fools.”
Researchers are using MRI scanners to verify how subjects’ brains (code word for dunderhead multitaskers) handle different tasks. Subjects had to track color-coded tasks.
Everything was hunky-dory, until the researcher pulled out a pocket watch from his white lab coat. “Now we’ll go faster.”
Subjects became stressed and enraged, and tried to short-circuit the MRI machine.
A researcher analogized this executive function of our frontal lobes. “If I’m looking for a friend wearing a red scarf in a crowd, I can locate him. But if I’m looking for him and also a friend in a blue scarf, and then a friend in a green scarf, all at the same time, I get into trouble.”
I say forget the scarves, unless the friend is carrying a doughnut box.