by John Holbo on April 20, 2011

Kevin Drum posts a fun screed against it. I didn’t know the experimental evidence was so damning, although I’m not surprised. But I am surprised that there is little consideration of what I would have thought was an obvious, major category of multitasking, going back to the Peripatetic School: engaging something with your mind while doing something unrelated, and probably repetitive, with your other muscles. Reading a book while riding the stationary bike. Playing scales or exercises on your instrument, over and over, while listening to the news. What about plain old reading a book while listening to music?

Drum links to an interview that rules this out, definitionally: “Multitasking as we’re studying it here involves looking at multiple media at the same time. So we’re not talking about people watching the kids and cooking and stuff like that. We’re talking about using information, multiple sources.” And there may be a music exception. Maybe we have a special module for that.

Fine, define terms how you like. But this seems misleading, because ‘task’ naturally covers cooking and kid-watching. [click to continue…]