Compartmentalized Know-How

This morning as I was pulling out after working out, a car was waiting for my spot.  There were other open spots only a few feet from where I parked but he was waiting for the spot a little closer to the entrance.  All this waiting to have a shorter walk, afterwards to go exercise!?  We all could critique him, but I know few people that park as far away from the entrance as possible before going to workout, just to get a little extra exercise. The whole incident reminded me of the above picture.

We live life applying different bodies of knowledge to different areas of our life – we compartmentalize our areas of expertise.  When we are getting exercise, we focus on exercising our bodies and only count the time that we show up and when we leave. We don’t count the time we walk there or walk back.

This inconsistency is not limited to exercise. They’ve shown that even experienced statisticians have the same problem.  When asked in a questionnaire outside of their work realm like: “There are two nearby hospitals.  One is a small hospital and the other is much larger.  On a given day, one of the hospitals had 60% girls.  Which hospital was it more likely to be?”  Many statisticians answered the larger hospital even though statistically you are more likely to have variation when the sample size is smaller.

We all live inconsistent with what we know by only applying our knowledge in the context we are used to using it. We can all benefit from thinking through the things we do automatically and reconsidering our default decisions in the light of each of our extensive know-how.






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