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54875.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:09 pm Reply with quote

Question: What's the best time to make decisions?

Answer: When you're asleep.

Notes: A recent study by University of Amsterdam scientists has revealed that the brain is far better at working through a complex set of interdependent information when it's unconscious.

The conscious mind attempts to focus too hard on certain areas of information, isolating them from other important factors and neglecting vital relationships. Unconscious brains are more 'zen-like' in their approach, and benefit from apprehending the entire dynamic network of causes and effects that decisions entail.

From the article:
One group was given four minutes to pick a favourite car from a list having weighed up four attributes including fuel consumption and legroom.

The other group was given a series of puzzles to keep their conscious selves busy before making a decision.

The conscious thought group managed to pick the best car based on four aspects around 55% of the time, while the unconscious thought group only chose the right one 40% of the time.

But when the experiment was made more complex by bringing in 12 attributes to weigh up, the conscious thought group's success rate fell to around 23% as opposed to nearly 60% for the unconscious thought group.

The best course of action when faced with a complex decision to make, therefore, is to have a bit of a kip. Sleep on it. Thinking just gets in the way sometimes.


Another recent scientific development has a strange connection with this result. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have built a simple quantum computer which takes advantage of the fact that photons appear to exist in a quantum duality (and can be thought of as existing and not existing at the same time).

When a program is fed into a quantum computer, the computer's state solves the problem by going into a 'superposition state' in which all possible solutions exist simultaneously.

You can also, however, put the whole quantum computer into a superposition state where it is both switched on and switched off at the same time. The UC team discovered that they could get the computer to run the program and get a result, even when they had not yet fed in the program, and the computer was still 'off'.


54876.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:12 pm Reply with quote

Perhaps a more open-ended question might provoke more larks. Something like "What's the best way to overcome your enemy?"

Maybe link it to the various Kung Fu styles as an alternative. "Sure, kick their nads in, but have a kip first to work out how to do it properly."

54878.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:14 pm Reply with quote

Or maybe "Why should you sleep through your education?"

54883.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:22 pm Reply with quote

The last para of your 1st post is a doozy.

You'll be hoping for a quibble. Here it is: the experiment seems to indicate that you're better off doing sudoku than fussing about fuel consumption figures, but it doesn't say anything about sleeping.

Frederick The Monk
54887.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:39 pm Reply with quote

Flash - the Quibble King!

54892.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:57 pm Reply with quote

Well, unconsciousness is a nicely loose term. Anyhow, the good Doctor Dijksterhuis says it enough times in that first linked article, and if the doctor says it, it's good enough for me.

Perhaps we could put it all under 'daydreaming' - I can see Alan as a young'un sitting at a desk not concentrating on the complex problem on the board...

55086.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:47 am Reply with quote

Under decision-making, a useful question might be "Yes or no?"

As in:

Stephen: "Sean - yes or no?"

55093.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:07 am Reply with quote

And then: "Answer the question!"

55123.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:55 am Reply with quote

Unconscious decision-making links to discussions of “The Zone,” starting at post 54739


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