Weinschenk – Car

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As seen in my picture, an object that I felt applied well to several of the chapters in the Weinschenk reading was a car. In particular, driving a car relates to the topics about how people think and focus.

One section that relates to a car is the section “Minds Wander 30 Percent of the Time”. When our minds wander, this means that while performing one task, we gradually begin thinking about something unrelated. In the chapter, it is stated that our minds wander 30% of the time during everyday life, but that our minds can wander as high as 70% of the time when driving. This mind wandering can be beneficial because it allows parts of our brain to focus on some other goal, while parts of our brain are focusing on what we are currently doing. The example given in the chapter is that while driving, parts of our mind are focused on the road and our surroundings, but other parts are wandering to other tasks, such as figuring out when we need to get gas. If we were only focusing on the current task of driving we couldn’t have the stray thoughts that would remind us of other issues, like checking our gas gauge. Mind wandering can thus help us think through a problem and plan out a task. However, we cannot let our minds wander too much, because we need to stay alert and aware of our surroundings. This is especially true while driving a car, because we need to be able to notice if there is an accident, a stop sign, or any other visual clue that we must respond to.

Another section that relates to a car is the section “People Can’t Actually Multitask”. According to the chapter, researchers have discovered that people are not capable of multitasking. This means that our brains cannot be performing two distinct tasks at the same time. Our brains can switch very quickly between the two tasks however, which can give us the feeling that we are multitasking. This is applicable to the car in the picture above. When we are driving, we are initially focused on looking out our windshield at the road, but there are many things that may distract us. We may want to adjust the temperature, change the radio station, turn on the windshield wipers, or any number of tasks related to the numerous buttons seen in the picture. We may think that we are still focused on driving while we attend to these other tasks, but our brain actually stops thinking about the road to perform those tasks, and then switches back. The chapter gave another related example, which was the situation of talking on the phone while driving. Even if the phone is hands-free and you are looking out the windshield, your attention is focused on your phone conversation, so therefore can no longer be focused on driving. These distractions can be very dangerous while driving because any time people stop focusing on the road, they can get into an accident.

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One thought on “Weinschenk – Car

  1. Very interesting take on the Weinschenk reading… I would look at the mind wandering as a very very dangerous aspect to humans being the operators of 2,000+lbs vehicles. As car accidents kill thousands every year. The not being able to actually multitask has been proven and is scary because think about how much people are, talking on the phone while driving, texting while driving, talking to others in the car while driving, playing with the heat or radio, etc. Thank god that we can switch back and forth between tasks quickly. But proven with the texting and driving, it is not a matter of how fast one can switch back, but more a matter of how long you allow your attention to be diverted. Therefore it scares me to know that people driving have minds that focus on other things (drift) up to 70% of the time they are driving. That means those folks are only actually driving the vehicle 30% of the time they are on the road…. that is terrifying.

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