all mixed up

parshat ki tetze

Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with two kinds of seed; lest the fulness of the seed which thou hast sown be forfeited together with the increase of the vineyard.  Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together. (Deuteronomy 22: 9-11)

לֹא-תִזְרַע כַּרְמְךָ, כִּלְאָיִם:  פֶּן-תִּקְדַּשׁ, הַמְלֵאָה הַזֶּרַע אֲשֶׁר תִּזְרָע, וּתְבוּאַת, הַכָּרֶם.
לֹא-תַחֲרֹשׁ בְּשׁוֹר-וּבַחֲמֹר, יַחְדָּו.
לֹא תִלְבַּשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז, צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים יַחְדָּו.

A quote and a comment from Michael Posnik; my good friend, rebbe, study partner and soul mate

How do you learn to think? Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

Solitude and Leadership – If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts by William Deresiewicz lecture delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009.


Michael Posnik writes: Thus the prohibitions against shatnes and horses and oxen pulling one cart, and mixed seeds at sowing time……

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