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(BBC-US)   Psychologists attempt to answer the question: Why is it so hard to give good directions? Subby contends the question should be: Why is it so hard for people to follow good directions?   (bbc.com) divider line 119
    More: Interesting, good directions  
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3426 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Nov 2012 at 11:25 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-06 10:10:42 PM
Better question - Why is it so difficult for men to ask for or follow them?
 
2012-11-06 10:14:13 PM
I told her way up yonder past the caution light
There's a little country store with an old Coke sign
You gotta stop in and ask Miss Bell for some of her sweet tea
Then a left will take you to the interstate
But a right will bring you right back here to me
 
2012-11-06 11:12:44 PM
I once, st the age of seven, have directions to a grown man to chuck e cheese. I never been, and he got lost following the van full of my fellow girl scouts.

No left and right from me. Cardinal directions.
 
2012-11-06 11:55:17 PM
Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."
 
2012-11-06 11:57:10 PM
Despite what the Android partisans will tell you, Apple Maps gives perfectly fine directions.
 
2012-11-07 12:09:55 AM
I give directions almost entirely by landmark. I freely admit that they are terrible unless you are navigationallyl challenged in a similar way.
 
2012-11-07 12:11:33 AM
Psychologists attempt to answer the question: Why do people from both primary parties resist the obvious 9/11 truth?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEGgAk1AbA4

/FFTM
 
2012-11-07 12:34:39 AM

Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."


THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?
 
TWX
2012-11-07 12:35:37 AM
I observed a lady in a convenience store asking the clerk for directions, who honestly, seemed equally lost.

I drive to various sites over an approximately 100 square mile area in a large suburban city, and I did field work in the entire metro area for many years before that. There are some freeways over on the west side that I can't give info on, but those were built after I stopped serving that area and are the better part of fifty miles from where I live and work.

Ask people who drive around for a living. Those people will probably give you the best directions, since they've actually been there, and are there all of the time.
 
2012-11-07 12:36:39 AM
The problem is that I know how to get there without thinking. And I can also adapt to screwing up the path I was planning to take.

It's also why grandma's recipe cards never seem to come out right. They're more like a checklist than a complete recipe, or there's something like a five minute rest where the dough or batter hydrates where grandma went and washed a bowl.

So, when I do have to give directions I ditch the little wiggles I normally make and try to think of the most direct route. My own route might contain a few twists and turns that bypass construction traffic but I'll try to get you there without having to be familiar with the construction. That familiarity is my key out of clusterfark gridlock at rush hour, I know how to bypass the worst of things. Protip: One major surface street over from the disaster zone isn't going to be much better.
 
2012-11-07 12:42:22 AM
I KICK ASS at explaining things. All subjects. All ages. The secret is to pretend you are a complete n00b. With younger people, assume ZERO implied knowledge, even things like gravity and friction.

FTA: This same quirk is why teaching is so difficult to do well. Once you are familiar with a topic it is very hard to understand what someone who isn't familiar with it needs to know.

Why is this so difficult??? It's simply about empathy. Have we become a world of Asperger sufferers?

And I agree. "Smart" people are the worst. One of my best mates, an IT expert who has done plenty of hours in help desk / training roles, was trying to explain predictive text to me when it first came out.

I was just about to punch him in the neck, when another friend overheard us and she explained it to me perfectly in about 15 words. IT expert was suitably embarrassed; at least I'll give him that.

Too many people in business are given training roles who couldn't even train a goldfish to know when it's feeding time. Many necks need to be punched.
 
TWX
2012-11-07 12:47:42 AM

Catlike Typist: Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."

THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?


At night I have trouble with cardinal directions frequently, but then again, it's not often that I drive somewhere at night that I don't already know how to get to.
 
2012-11-07 12:54:16 AM

balisane: I give directions almost entirely by landmark. I freely admit that they are terrible unless you are navigationallyl challenged in a similar way.


My dad does this.

"Where do I turn off?"
"Go down the highway until off on your left you'll see that bluff where we went arrowhead hunting when you were twelve and your sister found that bead in an anthill. After that, look for a leaning juniper and take the first road to the right."
"Is there a FS road number?"
"Yeah, but I don't remember what it is right now."
"Um, what mile markers is it between?"
"I don't know. Don't you remember that bluff?"
"Yeah, vaguely, but that was 20 years ago. And I wasn't driving."
"I'll put a paper plate with our name on it on a fencepost by the side of the road."
"I guess that will work."
 
2012-11-07 12:58:34 AM

TWX: At night I have trouble with cardinal directions frequently, but then again, it's not often that I drive somewhere at night that I don't already know how to get to.


i46.tinypic.com

NOBODY expects to drive somewhere at night where they don't already know how to get to!
 
2012-11-07 01:01:18 AM

Catlike Typist: Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."

THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?


I get pretty irritated with that as well. Trying to give directions to someone and then they're like "How do I know which direction west is?" Dammit, you've lived in this area since birth and you couldn't even at least manage to remember that one mountain is north and the other mountain is southeast?
 
2012-11-07 01:01:41 AM
I didn't even know about cardinal directions until this thread. Thanks, Fark. I learned something.

/now back to killing my brain with vodak
 
TWX
2012-11-07 01:11:47 AM

Big Ramifications: I KICK ASS at explaining things. All subjects. All ages. The secret is to pretend you are a complete n00b. With younger people, assume ZERO implied knowledge, even things like gravity and friction.

FTA: This same quirk is why teaching is so difficult to do well. Once you are familiar with a topic it is very hard to understand what someone who isn't familiar with it needs to know.

Why is this so difficult??? It's simply about empathy. Have we become a world of Asperger sufferers?

And I agree. "Smart" people are the worst. One of my best mates, an IT expert who has done plenty of hours in help desk / training roles, was trying to explain predictive text to me when it first came out.


Most people have a hard time understanding that the other party in the conversation does not necessarily possess all of the supporting information. The person on the mentor side assumes that the person on the protege side knows more than they actually do, and since showing weakness can cause problems, frequently the protege side doesn't stop the mentor side and ask for clarification.

Several months ago at work I was requested to make a write-up on what "E-rate" is, which is a federal project that we're participating in. The easiest way to explain it was to go back to when it was passed in 1997, what it's actual name was at passing, who administers it, the purpose of it, and how the funding works. It's easy to say that E-rate puts in more network connectivity, but that doesn't really help someone not in my line of work understand why. Explaining that it's part of the Universal Service fund, a law passed to enable the federal government, through the FCC, to identify and correct telecommunications infrastructure deficiencies in schools, hospitals, clinics, and libraries throughout the country, and to pay the lions' share of the bill to upgrade the telecommunications in those facilities in the form of phones, ethernet cabling, and wireless networking, is not hard to do, but requires one to go back to basics to explain it. It doesn't even require the use of analogies or comparisons to convey if one takes a moment to consider before explaining.
 
2012-11-07 01:34:55 AM
I Drive. If You are incapable of giving Correct, Truck route directions with specific details including Street names, Compass points, and state and federal route numbers, YOU ARE USELESS to me.
That's why I now use an expensive computer w helpful pictures coordinated w lat,lon, and GPS to write my own dir. Just give me a correct address.
Sheesh!
 
2012-11-07 01:37:01 AM
"Ya just go down the road 'bout three sees and turn left at the corner of the pasture where old Joe used to keep his bulls. Course old Joe died 'bout 10 yars ago, and the fences are gone and the path's all growed up now. Ya cain't miss it."
 
2012-11-07 01:39:23 AM

FunkOut: Catlike Typist: Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."

THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?

I get pretty irritated with that as well. Trying to give directions to someone and then they're like "How do I know which direction west is?" Dammit, you've lived in this area since birth and you couldn't even at least manage to remember that one mountain is north and the other mountain is southeast?


nice pocket protectors you got there. keep pretending you are not the minority of how people are, and let it bother you. scouts, hikers, hunters and people with little ball compass' on their dashboard know the direction. most people do not, and you know that. a heck of a lot of people have never seen a compass much less don't know how to use one or know how to find what direction they are facing.
 
2012-11-07 01:42:33 AM
Why can't women give directions without using landmarks? My mother is the worst at it. "Go to (building A) then turn left to (building B) then right til (building C)..... wtf you biatch just give me the goddamn address.
 
2012-11-07 01:43:42 AM

Monongahela Misfit: I Drive. If You are incapable of giving Correct, Truck route directions with specific details including Street names, Compass points, and state and federal route numbers, YOU ARE USELESS to me.
That's why I now use an expensive computer w helpful pictures coordinated w lat,lon, and GPS to write my own dir. Just give me a correct address.
Sheesh!


I have seen many eyes glaze over when I tell them to go north/south/east/or west on a street.
 
2012-11-07 01:47:31 AM

KrispyKritter: FunkOut: Catlike Typist: Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."

THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?

I get pretty irritated with that as well. Trying to give directions to someone and then they're like "How do I know which direction west is?" Dammit, you've lived in this area since birth and you couldn't even at least manage to remember that one mountain is north and the other mountain is southeast?

nice pocket protectors you got there. keep pretending you are not the minority of how people are, and let it bother you. scouts, hikers, hunters and people with little ball compass' on their dashboard know the direction. most people do not, and you know that. a heck of a lot of people have never seen a compass much less don't know how to use one or know how to find what direction they are facing.


Hi there, you're the guy who said nice things to me in a couple of other threads. I remember you.

But no, I would assume most people who live in my area would remember where things are in regards to the directions. Mostly because if you head south for about an hour you will be in America and if you head north you will hit the river. The valley is only so big.
 
2012-11-07 01:51:37 AM
quickfacts.census.gov
Everyone who ever came out of this state, my dad, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, and all of their friends, can't give directions for shiat.
 
2012-11-07 01:53:04 AM

Trocadero: [quickfacts.census.gov image 850x265]
Everyone who ever came out of this state, my dad, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, and all of their friends, can't give directions for shiat.


Good god. Are those counties?
 
2012-11-07 01:59:00 AM
Because most people are Askholes!

vintagemetalart.com
 
2012-11-07 01:59:10 AM

7th Son of a 7th Son: Why can't women give directions without using landmarks? My mother is the worst at it. "Go to (building A) then turn left to (building B) then right til (building C)..... wtf you biatch just give me the goddamn address.


Actually, they can. You're probably just generalising. Also, not all women love shoe shopping.
 
2012-11-07 01:59:31 AM

KrispyKritter:

nice pocket protectors you got there. keep pretending you are not the minority of how people are, and let it bother you. scouts, hikers, hunters and people with little ball compass' on their dashboard know the direction. most people do not, and you know that. a heck of a lot of people have never seen a compass much less don't know how to use one or know how to find what direction they are facing.


Well, you can find the restrooms on your own, now.
 
2012-11-07 02:01:00 AM
I was going out to dinner with a cousin from St. Joseph, MO and she was going over all the usual red barn behind a billboard turn right directions so I asked the name of the restaurant which was in an antebellum house in a tiny town about 40 miles away with no freeway there and just plugged it into Google maps in my first smart phone. It was the darkest drive I've been on in decades over roads that were converted from cow trails and I still got there as they were walking into the place. They were expecting me to be as much as an hour late and she and her hubby switched to smart phones on that one experience.

Directions suck because very little is truly unique. There are lots of barns and lots of billboards.
 
2012-11-07 02:02:08 AM

AverageAmericanGuy: Trocadero: [quickfacts.census.gov image 850x265]
Everyone who ever came out of this state, my dad, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, and all of their friends, can't give directions for shiat.

Good god. Are those counties?


Tennessee has a fetish about their counties. Every license plate has the county name on it. Trivia question: which county is Knoxville in?
 
2012-11-07 02:12:23 AM
I would say that 7 out of 10 times when I ask someone who's giving me directions, what the cross-street is at my destination with the street they're having me travel, it's a road that I know to be parallel with that same road.
 
2012-11-07 02:14:34 AM

FunkOut: Also, not all women love shoe shopping


Amputees.
 
2012-11-07 02:17:13 AM
When I give directions, I not only reference street names, but also landmarks. Sometimes one is easier to see than the other, and sometimes people are better able to decode one than the other.
 
2012-11-07 02:29:21 AM

Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."


In fairness, cardinal directions are muddled by the farked up highway and street systems employed by moronic cities who let retailers and real estate developers plan their transportation. Where I live, if you take 3 left turns you're likely in another town, not back on the road you began. I have a tendency to get turned around when the streets are so tortuous. Some people grow up in these monstrosities and spend their whole lives there. Ask someone which way is South in a mall parking lot and they'll probably point down. The whole farking southeast is like this, with the added bonus that trees obstruct everything and signs are basically illegal.

/In my experience, doctors and people who live in the middle of nowhere give the worst directions.
//Don't try to visit a doctor who lives in the middle of nowhere.
 
2012-11-07 02:34:10 AM
If I'm giving someone complicated directions I like to bust out street view on Google Maps.

A picture's worth a thousand words and all that.
 
2012-11-07 02:42:36 AM
When giving directions, use as few words as possible. If your sentences are more than 10 words long, edit. I bet Hemingway gave great directions.

Use as few direction words as possible. 99% of people can't handle more than about three changes in direction. I once heard someone give directions like this: "Right outside this door, enter the west side of the south building and turn left into the north side and it'll be right there." The victim just spun in place.
 
2012-11-07 02:44:09 AM

TWX: Explaining that it's part of the Universal Service fund, a law passed to enable the federal government, through the FCC, to identify and correct telecommunications infrastructure deficiencies in schools, hospitals, clinics, and libraries throughout the country, and to pay the lions' share of the bill to upgrade the telecommunications in those facilities in the form of phones, ethernet cabling, and wireless networking, is not hard to ...

~
~
You and me, baby! Erm. I think.

Just the other day I observed a mother getting impatient with a 4yo regarding being a messy eater. "pull your plate closer!" was all she kept on saying. Poor kid was confused coz he couldn't pull it any closer.

The problem was obvious. He'd eaten all the near food, and all the remaining food was on the FAR side of his dinner plate.

So I leaned over. "Watch this." And I slowly rotated his plate 180 degrees. Then I added a "Woah!" to make it fun.

Later out of the corner of my eye I could see him rotating his plate, testing my theory to its limits. Made me feel really good.

But my point is: "Plate rotating" was a new concept to him. I could spot the problem immediately, 90% of the adult population would keep saying "pull your plate closer!"

Mum couldn't even spot the correct solution. So double derp for her.

// FIGJAM
 
2012-11-07 02:56:07 AM

Neumahn: Because most people are Askholes!

[vintagemetalart.com image 590x590]

~
FARKING THIS^^^

As a gym instructor I found this to be incredibly frustrating. People would constantly come up to me for advice [both where I worked - duh, and social settings once they found out what I did]. It wouldn't be uncommon for someone to nod away for 30 minutes and then COMPLETELY IGNORE my advice.

Farking askholes. Just broke my spirit after a few years. I can totally understand how doctors and the like quickly get jaded, just punching the clock and handing out pills.

// long retired gym instructor - it's a young persons' game
 
2012-11-07 03:00:12 AM

moothemagiccow: In fairness, cardinal directions are muddled by the farked up highway and street systems employed by moronic cities who let retailers and real estate developers plan their transportation. Where I live, if you take 3 left turns you're likely in another town, not back on the road you began.

~
Testify. I've got an average sense of direction. Parallel streets that become perpendicular half a mile down the road freaken do my head in!
 
2012-11-07 03:01:52 AM
call center = bad

inbound call center = worse

inbound call center offering public transport advice = farking insanity
 
2012-11-07 03:16:04 AM
"A strong mind is ill-suited to advising a weak mind because it cannot follow the thoughts of the latter." -- Catherine the Great

"If the boy was smart enough to do what you're telling him, you wouldn't need to tell him." -- my grandfather
 
2012-11-07 03:17:06 AM
Two wrongs don't make a right.

... but three lefts do.

And you pompous people and your "cardinal" directions... knock it off.

1. People are asking because they don't know where they are.
2. Drop you in a strange city on a cloudy night... drive around for 3 minutes and you won't know where north is either.

Just tell me left or right Magellan... If I had my sextant I wouldn't be asking for directions.

/the key to giving good directions is to not be a moron.
 
2012-11-07 03:37:06 AM
As someone who has a second job at a gas station, I can tell you that most people don't believe your directions. I have to repeat myself at least twice before people actually listen.
 
2012-11-07 03:41:29 AM

Catlike Typist: Kraftwerk Orange: Most people don't understand cardinal directions. I'll sometimes tell someone to go south on a certain road, and they'll ask "Is that left or right..."

THIIIIIS, it makes me foam at the mouth. Can't you tell left from right? How can you not know which way is north?


Do you only ever drive in a grid-based place like Salt Lake City? There's a road near me that literally covers about 330 degrees of the compass. Good luck keeping track of what direction you're facing at any given time.

There's also a state highway marked North that spends a good amount of time travelling south/southwest. So if you told someone to go east on a cross street, they'd have to turn left.
 
2012-11-07 04:16:16 AM
I live in a neighborhood next to a large park and people almost daily stop and ask me for directions while I'm walking my dog. I don't know how well they follow them once they drive away, but the problem seems to be that they don't even want to listen to them. Like if it isn't just "go straight and turn left" they just get impatient and glassy-eyed.
 
2012-11-07 04:30:04 AM
For those of you who don't get why people can't follow cardinal directions, I invite you to drive in Atlanta, where roads curve in unexpected directions and cross each other at multiple points, some are giant circles, and half of them are named "Peachtree." To go north on I-285 you go south or east if you're starting out south of the city, but west or east if you start in other locations. I could go on...
I can find my way around because I've lived here all my life, but I've seen grid-city people reduced to a helpless, hand-wringing puddle of tears trying to figure it out.
If they're nice about it, I help them find their way. If they end up cursing the South and the morons who built it, I figure they can find their own way or go back home.
 
2012-11-07 04:40:18 AM

Aces and Eights: If they end up cursing the South and the morons who built it, I figure they can find their own way or go back home.


If the place is designed to keep people out, let it do its job.

Never had this problem in Texas. You guys can't even blame your wriggling roads on rivers.
 
2012-11-07 04:52:29 AM

cheap_thoughts: I once, st the age of seven, have directions to a grown man to chuck e cheese. I never been, and he got lost following the van full of my fellow girl scouts.

No left and right from me. Cardinal directions.


the whole thing?

/esl fail ?
//drugs?
 
2012-11-07 05:01:59 AM

moothemagiccow: Aces and Eights: If they end up cursing the South and the morons who built it, I figure they can find their own way or go back home.

If the place is designed to keep people out, let it do its job.

Never had this problem in Texas. You guys can't even blame your wriggling roads on rivers.


Well, except for that whole Chattahoochee thing. But you're right. Mostly the roads here evolved from the central terminus (railroad crossing) and just kind of grew outward from there.
So far I haven't seen our roads keeping people out though.
 
2012-11-07 05:13:40 AM
You had me at, "Why is it so hard to give good..."
 
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