Sunday, July 13, 2008

Well Waddaya Know XVII

Last week's question and answer:
Max needs to perform two tasks: Juggling 7 balls and reading the Dick & Jane primer out loud. Will he perform better with an audience or worse?
Both better
1 (3%)
Both worse
6 (19%)
Equally well for both
0 (0%)
Juggling better, reading worse
13 (41%)
Juggling worse, reading better
11 (35

Shragi says: Simple tasks are done better with an audience and complex tasks are performed less well with an audience. Therefore the juggling will be worse and the reading better.

[Ezzie: I thought the opposite - simple tasks, under pressure, you'll fumble because you are thinking too much about them. Harder tasks you are forced to focus on and tune out the audience. Interesting.]

This week's question is up to the left!


  1. this is all very nice, but did he have the requisite 4-6 years of juggling experience to learn 7 balls?

    I can say that for me, 3 balls goes pretty much the same with or without an audience.

    Reading - I actually enjoy reading to an audience.
    so donno.

  2. The two actions presented are not equal. I'm presuming that juggling 7 balls requires a lot more skill than juggling 3 would require. I'll also assume that a 5-year old would usually not be able to juggle that number of balls. So the person juggling and doing the reading has to be older. If they are older then reading Dick and Jane is not equal in required concentration to juggling the seven balls. A more complex book would need to be used in order to make the two actions of equal weight. Change Dick and Jane to Hamlet or War and Peace or the philosophy of Aristotle and you might have a different outcome.