I’ve had the distinct fortune over the last few days to hear some great lectures (and a few duds) on learning theory, behavioral science and how the brain works from people like Daniel Simons and Ann Herrmann-Nehdi. As someone who hungers for new learning, I am always interested in how people process information and how the instructor can either help or hinder that process.
What I find interesting though, is that we are so quick sometimes to throw out terms like “information overload” or “brain overload” when I tend to think most of the time it is actually “information confusion”. Experts agree that we can process information much faster than the average person can talk. So if the information is presented in a logical fashion, we are more apt to be engaged and remember it. Though not absolute, I can be bombarded with information and still retain the salient parts if I can follow the logic.
However, “information confusion” more-so than overload becomes the blocker. All new information that I could process is shut off because now I am fixated on figuring out something that may have been said five minutes earlier. I find this when speakers tend to say “um” every 10 seconds. I become fixated on counting the “um’s” that I no longer pay attention to the content.
I remember having a professor in college with a strong Ukrainian accent. He was not the type of professor who liked interruptions in his lectures for silly things like questions. One day, he spent 30 minutes lecturing on Ira. I couldn’t figure out who this Ira guy was or what he had to do with science. It was only as the bell was beginning to ring, that I finally understood he was saying “iron”. Had I known that in the beginning, the entire lecture might have made sense.
Anyone else have examples of when you become fixated on something someone else said or did and can’t seem to get past it to really pay attention to their point?