Monday, 16 August 2010

Mr Ten Percent

They say that the average person only consciously uses 10% of their brain when performing any task. I think this statistic gets bandied about to illustrate the potential of the human mind. "Imagine what you could achieve if you used the other nine-tenths?" they say.

I'm not sure who "they" are. Typically it's the sort of comment you hear either from New Age crystal huggers with an unhealthy amount of silver jewellery, or those rather scary motivational speaker types who spend their entire professional lives in front of retail managers at a Travelodge in Wigan.

Anyway, back to the 10%. I can't help marvelling at the fact that some people actually get to double figures, but that's just me being a miserable sod, apparently.

So, given that I'm only using one-tenth of my noggin typing this, what's the other 90% up to?

10% - breathing. I have been known to forget to breathe when concentrating on something important - some tricky copying-and-pasting or maybe a fiendish Sudoku - so let's devote a little brainpower to it.

5% - digestion. Like breathing, I'm not completely sure this is instinctive, so I'd better ring-fence a little brainpower to make sure it's happening correctly. Will increase to 50% after a particularly heavy meal, which might explain why I can't think about swimming at the same time.

10% - usernames, passwords and PINs. Have to put some processing power on one side to remember these. Apart from my Verified by VISA password, which I forget. Every. Bloody. Time. Our ancestors didn't have to worry about their LinkedIn password, so they spent their spare capacity thinking about having wars instead.

20% - remembering arcane stuff from school that I have not used since. Those formulae for constant acceleration and velocity, for instance. 'v=u+at', 'v(2)=u(2)+2(as)' and 's=ut+1/2(at(2))'. Impressive, huh? It was 24 years ago when I did Physics O-level. Only problem is, I can't remember what v, u, a, s and t were. I guess that's what happens when you're wasting 15% of your brain on breathing and digestion.

10% - running and rerunning a little film in my head of a pig wearing a straw boater galloping on a treadmill, while 'Baby Elephant Walk' plays in the background. I have no idea.

5% - thinking about where I've put my house keys. Will reduce to zero the nearer I get to leaving the house.

10% - miscellaneous information. For instance, lyrics to obscure Emerson Lake & Palmer tracks, wedding anniversary, Katie's birthday, how to spell the word 'miscellaneous', etc.

20% - trying to come up with pithy and amusing things to write on Twitter. Clearly, Stephen Fry can just employ his massive intellect, while I sit around floundering with one-fifth of my inferior brain at play. I should just write something about Justin Bieber instead - that would do the trick. (Note to self: find out who this Justin Bieber fellow is).

It's quite exhausting, this thinking malarkey. I think I'll give it a rest. Where's that Dan Brown novel?

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