It's OK, Miss Utah. Brain farts happen to all of usDuring the Miss USA pageant on Sunday, Miss Utah Marissa Powell struggled to gather her thoughts to answer a question on the issue of women continuing to earn less money than men.When asked a question about fair pay for women during the Miss USA competition last night, Miss Utah, 21-year-old Marissa Powell, did what happens to so many of us in less glamorous situations. She totally blanked.
And then said: “I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to figure out how to create jobs right now. That’s the biggest problem and I think, especially the men are, um, seen as the leaders of this and so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”
At least she remembered to be gracious.
It brings to mind, of course, the infamous flub in 2007 by Miss South Carolina Teen, who blanked while answering a question about geography. But these beauty queens most certainly practiced for the Q&A portion of the pageant. What causes gaffes like these?
Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of the book “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To,” says that the trouble starts when we get nervous.
“People start worrying and that eats up their brainpower,” explains Beilock.
She uses a metaphor: When there are too many programs running on your computer, it becomes sluggish and confused. Our brains work this way, too. Miss Utah might have been thinking about how she performed in other categories or whether she picked the best bikini -- or maybe, she simply got caught up with all the lights and attention.
“When all eyes are on us, it makes us stumble on our words,” Beilock says. “It disrupts the things that [usually] work on autopilot.”
And as soon as Miss Utah realized she wasn’t doing well, she probably became self-conscious, draining even more brain power away from focusing on answering the question.
“I think we often think of choking in the Olympics or Miss America pageant, but it happens all the time,” she says, adding that she’s a great parallel parker when no one is in the car. (She’s not the only one.)
This morning on TODAY, the anchors admitted that they've had their share of on-air brain farts.
"We've been in that position where we're in the middle of saying something and you kind of go blank," Matt Lauer said. "And then it's like that hot flash starts in the middle of your back and heads up the back of your neck, which only makes matters worse. I feel for her."
To avoid blanking, Beilock recommends that people practice. If you need to make a big presentation to the board of directors, for example, practice the presentation in front of a large group of people or videotape it. She also says that research shows that when people write down their fears before a big performance, they do better -- and they avoid those dreaded blanks. She notes that everyone can avoid choking “if we can stop worrying.”
In helicopter flying there are a few important things that pilots must recognize and react to intuitively. Things like retreating blade stall, low g, settling with power, soss of tail rotor effectiveness and low rotor RPM are just some of those important things. If you can't think of the symptoms and the correct recovery techniques then crack open the books and/or get some flight instruction.
For the fixed wing folks, this is the equivalent of not knowing how to recover from a stall or spin.
Every once in awhile an applicant will have problems with these very important, life changing, challenges. From a PTS stand point the check ride is over with but on a deeper level, what kind of pilot would we have if they where cut loose without this knoweldge?
I've often said Multi Engine Flying is a thinking mans game. Meaning we have many decisions to make flying light twins, often with a moments notice. The decisions made will come from our experience, training and our preflight planing.
One problem that often creeps up is a maintenance problem with one of the engines. It hasn't quit yet, but its running hot or rough or maybe oil is leaking from it. What do you want to do? One option maybe a precautionary shut down. How would you do that? Often the AFM/POH isn't very clear on this but you can always use the procedure you have used for any engine failure. That is Power up, Clean up, Identify, Verify, Feather and follow up with the shut down checklist.
Another situation maybe an engine failure on short final. Again, there may not be an easy checklist to follow. Would you power up and feather the dead engine or just power up. Tough call. What procedure would get you safely to the runway without distracting you from landing the airplane? Like I said, it's a thinking man's game!