- By Chief Technology Officer, Andrew Tait, Decision Mechanics Limited
Here’s a question for you: How many animals of each kind did Moses take into the ark?
Most people have no problem in answering “Two.” Of course, Moses didn’t take any animals into the ark. Noah did.
Your brain is good at filling in gaps in information. Yu cn prbly red ths sntce evn tho it mssng al srts of lttrs. However, sometimes your brain is too good and leads you astray.
In most of our day-to-day activities this “automatic processing” allows us to be much more efficient than if we had to stop and reflect on everything. Of course, sometimes we need to reflect on a problem possibly because it’s counterintuitive or novel.
Research suggests that complicating things can improve our ability to understand them. The idea is that we are forced to slow down and consciously reason about the information being presented to us. For example, research at the University of Michigan has shown that using a difficult-to-read font makes it more likely that readers will spot the mistake in the Moses Illusion question.
Researchers at Princeton conducted a “real-life” experiment in an Ohio high school. Children given materials in a disfluent font scored higher in classroom assessments than those in a control group.
There seems to an obsession with simplification and clarity these days. Maybe that is contributing to the infantilization of society dumbing us down. When confronted with difficult, novel problems consider the value of a little obfuscation.