Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » Thought for the Day:

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08/22/2005: Thought for the Day:

In one test the interviewer gave each candidate a blank sheet of paper and asked him to study it and describe what he saw in it. There was no one right response in this sort of test, because it was designed to force the candidate to free-associate in order to see where his mind wandered. The test-wise pilot knew that the main thing was to stay on dry land and not go swimming. As they described with some relish later on in the BOQ, quite a few studied the sheet of paper and then looked the interviewer in the eye and said, "All I see is a blank sheet of paper." This was not a "correct" answer, since the shrinks probably made a note of "inhibited imaginative capacity" or some goddamned thing, but neither did it get you in trouble. One man said, "I see a field of snow." Well, you might get away with that, as long as you didn't go any farther...as long as you did not thereupon start ruminating about freezing to death or getting lost in the snow and running into bears or something of that sort. But Conrad...well, the man is sitting across the table from Conrad and gives him the sheet of paper and asks him to study it and tell him what he sees. Conrad stares at the piece of paper and then looks up at the man and says in a wary tone, as if he fears a trick: "But it's upside down."

This so startles the man, he actually leans across the table and looks at this absolutely blank sheet of paper to see if it's true--and only after he is draped across the table does he realize that he has been had. He looks at Conrad and smiles a smile of about 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

This was
not the way to produce the Halo Effect.
--Tom Wolfe,
The Right Stuff [on Pete Conrad's reaction to psychological screening tests for Project Mercury astronauts]

Len on 08.22.05 @ 05:54 AM CST

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