The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - The Wrong Mentality
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The Wrong Mentality|
Because I’ve been having flashbulb-like blind spots clogging my vision lately, I went to the eye doctor. And got the “field of vision” test. Which told me a little more about myself than I wanted to know.
The “field of vision” test is fairly simple: they set your chin in a plastic groove, cover one eye, and have you stare at a light in the center of a large white circular box. Around that central light, many other lights of all brightnesses flash intermittently, at various distances, testing the limits of your peripheral vision. When you see a light, you click a button, and are scored.
“Scored” is the problem. I have the gamer mentality.
The test-giver told me that older people often had a problem with the test, and I immediately thought, Well, hell, I’ll beat those fogeys. And the entire time I was taking the test, I was optimizing - I realized that if I shifted my stance a little bit, some of the lights I couldn’t make out would reflect in the lens, giving me additional points. Then, about halfway through the right eye, I realized that the machine itself made a soft whirring noise every time a light went on, which I could hear if I listened closely, and thus score a perfect test. Then I would raise my arms high in triumph before walking into a door.
I had to keep telling myself, this isn’t the point. You’re not trying to win. Still, a part of me kept trying to game the system, because that’s what you do when someone sticks a control in your hand. The goal, I whispered, was to see my optical faults so they could be corrected - and yet still I asked the test-giver whether my left eye was “stronger” than my right, because I wanted to see whether I’d learned anything about the field of vision test between right eye and left.
This is insane. But it tells me that this is how I largely approach life: I’m scanning for boss patterns, and analyzing for cheat codes. I’m unsure of whether this is cool or pathetic.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/65882.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Oh. And it turns out the problem I've been having? Low-grade ocular migraines cutting off some of the blood to my otherwise-healthy retinae.
How long do your spots last?
|Date:||January 27th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)|| |
I was wondering if that was it. The symptoms sounded kind of like what I started having in college - after a visit with the eye dr, the likely diagnosis was "migrane precursor aura", and that I might or might not ever get actual migranes following up on them. Fortunately I have not. I have noticed that the little sparkly lights showing up in my vision is a pretty good indicator that I've been too stressed lately and need to take a break though.
|Date:||January 27th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)|| |
I've gotten the little sparkly lights since I was a kid - when I was little I used to pretend it was aliens come to give me instructions.
Did I say that outloud? :P
|Date:||January 27th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)|| |
I hope not, the aliens were very clear when they gave me my instructions not to tell anyone about the signals.
|Date:||January 26th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)|| |
|Date:||January 26th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)|| |
Ah, but that could arguably be considered cheating, as the point of the test is purely what your eye can see given the fixed stance and focus! :) Rather more importantly, you're potentially cheating yourself out of accurate medical care.
From what I understand you to be saying, this is called metacognition and viewed as one of the highest forms of thought. Really good strategists do this to analyze the patterns of their opponent to predict behavior, like in chess or war. Some folks can do it in everyday life (because people are actually fairly predictable) and things can be either easier for them because they learn how to game the system, or amazingly frustrating when they see patterns repeat because people don't change them...especially the really negative things. It's a fairly nifty concept.
Pfh, metacognition is rubbish, the best form of thought is when you recognise other people metacognicising and figure out what they're going to do with it! (Well, actually, that's the nth-best - the (n-1)th best is when you recognise other people doing that!)
I like knowing how to game the system but choosing not to.
Only very tangentially related, but a thing I feel like mentioning, in yesterday's "White Collar", the protagonist was shown scamming a three-cups scammer; I was impressed with the direction of the show being such that if you had fast sharp eyes you could see the replacement card concealed in his hand (and recognise that the other people present couldn't because it was at an angle), but for most people, or for people who didn't know where to watch, it just looked like a magic trick that would be easily performed by editing. I'm curious whether he actually did the sleight-of-hand start to finish, or if it involved editing in the end anyway.
|Date:||January 26th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)|| |
*snickers* Patients like you are why they build better machines these days that do it all by reading a digital photo taken of your eye while the light goes off.
Yes, they do.
I have both done. It's what comes of diabetic changes to the eye, plus glaucoma, plus dry eyes.
|Date:||January 26th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)|| |
It also means you're very good at adapting to any given situation. Excellent survival mechanism.
|Date:||January 26th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)|| |
Yes. I do this with dentists: floss a whole bunch just before going in. It means I am ignoring my teeth much of the time, but they do not yell at me. It is a survival mechanism of a sort.
This sounds related to the reason I'm secretly convinced I have low-grade hearing loss, but have never actually failed a hearing test. I'm a linguist by training, and I can game the single-word prompts by basic knowledge of English phonology (I can't think of a good specific example, but the thinking pattern is basically "oh, that's the prompt they must use to test whether you can hear the devoiced sound at the end of that word" or something like that).
It's a hard impulse to counter, and highlights one of the complications with tests that try to isolate specific issues. I can hear and comprehend things in isolation that I can't parse out quickly enough at speed.
"D E F P O T E C". That's the line on the eye chart my ophthalmologist asks me to read every year, and every year I wonder what percentage of my vision is seeing the actual printed letters vs. imagining what I expect them to be.
I'm currently working on memorizing the next line.
|Date:||January 27th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)|| |
I have this same problem. Five minutes into the eye test I've got it memorized and I'm going "Can I see this, or do I just know what it says?"
|Date:||January 28th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)|| |
My eye doctor changes them up on me for each eye. Sneaky bastard.
|Date:||January 28th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)|| |
See, that would be awesome.
My hearing is just fine; my listening is broken. (I have an auditory processing disorder. People sometimes think I have hearing loss, but my hearing tests fine every time.)
I’m unsure of whether this is cool or pathetic.
Embrace the power of "and"...
I read that biography about Martha Stewart, Just Desserts. Apparently her husband dragged her to couple's therapy a number of times. However, instead of using these opportunities to help herself and her marriage, she saw it as a competitive game in which her goal was to fool the therapist, which was able to do. (Btw, I think Martha Stewart has one of the worst cases of OCD that I've ever read about. It's too bad she didn't try to sincerely get help.)
I've taken this test twice a year for over 20 years now. It used to be donw manually, as your immobilized head's eyes were told to follow a bright yellow felt pad on a stick against a black background. The new electronic/electric ones reminded me of the Millenium Faclcon's gunroom, shooting down Empire ships (gad, a geeky refenernce creeps in ... must squash that line of thought.) Don't cheat at it. Changes over time is an important tool eye docs have of seeing whether your blind spots are growing, and whether peripheal vision is narrowing. This from the original deep-set eyed Glaucoma Kid.
I don't like the feeling it gave me to realize this, but I had no conscious idea that I was cheating myself in vision tests my entire life, but looking back, I have always been more concerned with scoring well than with having an accurate reading and therefore having a plan of treatment that would actually, I don't know, help me see???
This kind of stuff is among the reasons I prefer the tests where you have to report how many lights you saw, and where you saw them.
People in general are far too prone to approach eye exams with a competitive attitude.
They should let you take the test twice. Once to actually be tested, and then a second run to see if you can win.
That's a remarkably brilliant solution.
I have never thought of myself as a gamer at all, but recently I read a blog post (I think it was Rands in Repose) about how nerds think, and I realized that in fact I do have very similar gamer instincts, although I don't really like competition. For instance, as a professional phone monkey, I'm always trying to create a perfect call. Since I've been doing QA for the cast six months, now I find that my major frustration with other agents, is that they *don't* actively try to game the system to get better call scores.
|Date:||January 28th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)|| |
"I’m unsure of whether this is cool or pathetic."
Nono, is cool. Just don't cheat yourself when you cheat the games.
|Date:||January 29th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)|| |
I know! That sound! Why does a blinking light need to make a sound! Who designed that test?! And who could *not* struggle with gaming the system when they make it so easy to do so?
Maybe it's actually a psychological test.
What's really interesting about this to me is the fact that I have an 11 year old son who is growing up as a gamer. I realize that he sees all kinds of things in life in exactly the way you are describing here, and I wonder how that affects him and what the long term repercussions will be.