Contents

Trans-substantial Catholics

Watch this. What are the priests doing? Catholic Litmus Test If you are Catholic, then I hope for the sake of your soul you said he is welcoming Christ bodily into the world. If you didn’t you aren’t looking too […]


Poor Hanno

According to the pop-psychologist-pseudo-science writer Malcolm Gladwell in his magnum lite-opus, the Tipping Point we as a species need risk takers. Individuals who are willing to put it all on the line in pursuit of a goal will, if they […]


Intelligence and Happiness?

A while ago, the Inquisition pondered the nature of intelligence, and whether a certain outlook or attendant mental abilities are guides to or from happiness. This has been obliquely in the news of late…


Buried by the Sea

Its odd. Most graveyards in Connemara appear to be near water, if not actually right on the coast. Why? West Galway, or Connemara, has a lot of unused space. Admittedly, much of the land Connemara is industrially and agriculturally useless, […]


Cycling Two Abreast

Cycling two abreast in Ireland is legal, a protected practice, and it is safer.


Indoors / Outdoors (Defuse)

A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland


Nürnburg’s Extra Bombs

Nürnburg got ripped to shreds by Bomber Harris’ boys. By how much appears to be open to debate.


Law & Morality

The preface to HLA Hart’s publication of his 1961 lecture series on the meeting of law and morality is as prevalent today as it ever was.


Foy – The Bodiless Head

A bodiless head is revered as being Saint Foy, who died a cruel death.


Coffee Haters

There are people out there who pretend to like coffee. Coffee Haters – you have been warned.


False Flags 2

False flag, covert ops by Americans against Americans? Sounds crazy, and so it was deemed.


Plastic 55 Years Ago

55 years ago Roland Barthes considered the importance of plastic and what it meant, as a substance and a symbol.


Cesare Borgia’s Party

The Pope, his son and fifty prostitutes – Cesare Borgia’s party.


Marriage – A Potted History

Marriage is thought by many to be a fixed rite, one which is immovable and inflexible. The truth is that it has not always seemed so…


Blinking Morse

The world was shocked when a victim of torture started blinking morse. The story of a US aviator captured in Vietnam.


Synecdoche

Synecdoche is a powerful, expressive linguistic device


The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Pay Attention!

For some time now we have… Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, for some time now we have had dire warnings about our attention spans.

Okay enough crap jokes; through the nineties we heard worrying tales of the MTV generation’s inabilities to retain information and their problems sticking with anything which taxed (them) mentally, at least beyond the fifteen second sound-bite. Well, things haven’t gotten any better for us as online media continue to batter us into being of possessors of mental acuity that would make aquarium dwellers embarrassed.

Distracted

Still there? Well, the Inquisition congratulates you, intrepid reader. Maggie Jackson, the american jouranlist and author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, would also be proud of you.

attentio-quote-1

It is her contention that we are bombarding ourselves with so much information that offers instant gratification that we have lost the ability to explore information – why read an encyclopoedia when you can Google something? There may be good reason why this is such a tempting approach.

Hunter Gatherer Responses

There is a theory that men, in particular, have kept a residual response from our earliest ancestors which makes us scan the literal and proverbial horizons for anything distracting. Anything out of place could have been a threat or food source and as a result we looked beyond what was static and right in front of us. Distraction, according to the theory, is hard-wired into us.

Over time, though, we have learnt the benefits of prolonged attentive thought. We have developed our attention spans so that we could master the world. Scientists define a triumvirate of cognitive functions that form our attention spans; orienting, responsiveness and executive attention. These are respectively how are brain tells our senses to scan inputs, how much effort it decides to devote to the endeavour and how it processes information received.

Now and Next

Modern society, argues Maggie Jackson, has evolved in such a way that we are constantly bombarded with new information and required to formulate immediate responses. According to Jackson, information workers (not sure who they are exactly, but sure, anyway…) on average change the focus of their tasks every three minutes.

In essence, Jackson argues that our loud, brash and distracting world is not conducive to creativity and brain development. Her interview in Wired magazine ends on an ominous note:

attentio-quote-2

“Dark ages are times of forgetting, when the advancements of the past are underutilized. If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding. The possibility of an attention-deficient future society is very sobering. “

She might be right – after all, The Inquisition has provided lovely big pullquotes to distract you because large bodies of text are too daunting for lowly readers!

Update

According to Wired, further research by others has led to the conclusion that, “when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning.
Maggie Jackson, author of "Distracted"

Bibliography
Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Maggie Jackson, Prometheus Books, 2008
Maggie Jackson interviewed by Wired Magazine

This article was posted by on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 04:04.
It is archived in Culture, Health, Science and tagged , , .

2 Responses to Pay Attention!

  1. Pingback: The Time to Look | The Inquisition

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