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August 12, 2006


Les Posen

Hi Richard, have you got the original citation for Wilson's research? I'm doing workshops on PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) for lawyers and accountants (psychologists are a lost cause ;-) and would like ot see how I could integrate his findings into my workshops.

Richard Petty

Dear Les,

For some reason Typepad swallowed my response to you, so I thought I'd try again.

The Infomania data is not from a peer-reviewed paper. It came from a report prepared for Hewlett Packard with Glenn Wilson's help. You can find the report here:

All of the comments that I quote came directly from Glenn, (his web age at the Institute is:

But over the last few months he's been back peddling. I think that he regrets some of his comments to journalists made in the heat of the moment: He's a good scientist and a nice person, but it's easy to trip yourself up when journalists start trying to put words in your mouth!

This is something that Glenn wrote recently to clarify the work:

"There were two parts to their "research" (1) a Gallup-type survey of around 1000 people who admitted misusing their technology in various ways (e.g. answering e-mails and phone calls while in meetings with other people), and (2) a small in-house experiment with 8 subjects (within-S design) showing that their problem solving ability (on matrices type problems) was seriously impaired by incoming e-mails (flashing on their computer screen) and their own mobile phone ringing intermittently (both of which they were instructed to ignore) by comparison with a quiet control condition. This, as you say, is a temporary distraction effect - not a permanent loss of IQ. The equivalences with smoking pot and losing sleep were made by others, against my counsel, and 8 Ss somehow became "80 clinical trials".

Hope that gives you what you need!

Kind regards,


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