The Telegraph
Friday , July 4 , 2014
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Unscientific joy of doing nothing!

New Delhi, July 3: The US journal Science will come out with a study tomorrow that establishes that doing nothing but thinking is an unpleasant task.

Evidently, the learned scientists did not conduct any experiment on the do-nothing-be-happy brigade in Bengal.

The Trinamul Congress, the Mamata Banerjee government and Bengal police have done nothing on the speeches delivered by Tapas Paul. Yet, they have thought hard and concluded that the MP’s apology was made in the “right spirit” and the matter should end there.

So, has Bengal proven science wrong?

The new study by a team of US psychologists has found that most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than immersing themselves in their own thoughts for even short periods lasting six to 15 minutes. The study’s findings will appear in Science on Friday.

“Humans have the ability to mentally disengage from the world, letting their minds ponder the past or fantasise about the future — but most people find it unpleasant to do nothing but try to entertain themselves with their own thoughts,” David Reinhard, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and member of the team, said.

The scientists who conducted 11 experiments involving a range of participants from college students to people in their 70s found most people preferred to do something — even something negative — than merely sit with their own thoughts.

The scientists asked sets of participants to sit in a closed and unadorned room with no mobile phone, reading or writing materials and spend six to 15 minutes trying to entertain themselves with their own thoughts. Most participants reported that the thinking experience was not enjoyable and that they found it hard to control their thoughts.

In one experiment with particularly striking results, they observed the aversion to doing nothing was so strong that 12 of 18 men and six of 24 women gave themselves mild electric shocks as an available option.

If Paul reads Science — his presumable reading choice since a section of the media in Bengal has been branded conspiratorial by his leader — he will realise what a close shave he has had.

Disclaimer: Neither the University of Virginia nor Science had the Tapas Paul tapes in mind. The conspiracy is entirely that of wandering minds in The Telegraph.

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