Multi-Taskers In Trouble – Pseudo-Science Makes Great Headlines

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A "news story" making the rounds the past few days details a "study" which says that multi-taskers are more likely to be distracted and make mistakes than non-multitaskers. At least that’s the conclusion they come to after dividing people into two groups, those who often have multiple things like television, videos, and music going at the same time versus those who do not and then showing them pictures of red and blue squares.

Basically, those who don’t always multitask were better at telling if red squares changed positions among red and blue squares than those who don’t multitask.

Just wondering, but could it be that people who are more likely to multitask are also more likely to be easily bored by things like, oh, I don’t know, watching red and blue squares?

These things always crack me up. Some scientists run a questionnaire, or do something like show people pictures and then leap to these huge sweeping conclusions like this. You want to study how multitasking does or doesn’t help or hurt your mental abilities, compare people doing important things and see how it works out. I’ll bet that when it actually matters, the multitasking people have about the same error rate on their tasks as those who don’t multitask, especially if their multitasking allows them to do things in such a way as to not make for the need to rush later on.

Places running the multitasking story total 350+ already on Google News. Guess we’ll be hearing more about this before everyone (multitaskers and not) forgets all about it.

Why Multitaskers Stink at Multitasking– Wall Street Journal Blogs

Study finds people who multitask often bad at it – Associated Press

Drop that BlackBerry! Multitasking may be harmful – CNN

Study: Multitaskers ‘lousy at what they’re doing’ – USA Today

Self-Proclaimed Multitaskers Aren’t That Good at Multitasking – Lifehacker

Of course, what is really funny is that this isn’t groundbreaking. It isn’t even remotely original.  Consider these previous media flare-ups about multitasking.

March 2007 – Warning on the Limits of Multitasking

Nov. 2007 – Is Multitasking Driving You Mad?

July 2008 – The "Myth" of Multitasking

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to some music while I write some more articles while downloading a rap about Arlington off of Youtube.

Good day.

     

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