9/23/13 – How to Hit and Think at the Same Time

Yogi Berra claimed that you can’t hit a baseball and think at the same time; the choreographer George Balanchine would tell his dancers, “don’t think; just do,” and the psychologist Sian Beilock has conducted experiments which support, as she sees it, the phenomenon of “paralysis by analysis,” or as she puts it in her popular book Choke, “heightened attention to detail can actually mess you up.” But does thinking really interfere with expert performance? Does attention to detail tend to mess you up? Going against a long tradition of thinkers who have advocated the view that thinking interferes with doing, the philosopher and former professional ballet dancer, Barbara Gail Montero, discusses her forthcoming book in which she explains why, when you are really good at something, you really can hit and think at the same time. (Read a preview of the book in the New York Times, http://www.opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/the-myth-of-just-do-it/?emc=eta1Preview)