98%/2% Thing Explained
Go take the test before proceeding unless you want it ruined for you!
I thought of the red hammer and was astonished. He thought of a red knife and was less astonished.
I demanded an explanation from him, he being a brain scientist and all, as to why 98% of the people who try the test think of a red hammer. He says he knows why, and will tell me shortly as soon as he finished a little thingy he's working on.
Please stand by...
Okay, according to Stephen, the deal is that repetitive tasks bring you into the now and bring you away from preconceptions. Under those circumstances, when told unexpectedly to think of a color and a tool, you are more likely to come up with the statistically most common responses.
In other words, the boring long list of caluclations are pretty much irrelevant except for the fact that they are boring and repetitive tasks which serve the purpose of bringing you "into the moment", making you disinclined to ruminate on what your answer to the color/tool question will be. And once your mind has been so preset, when you are asked the color/tool question, you will go to the answer that is statistically most common. It doesn't have to be a color and a tool. It could be a pet (likely "dog", I should think), or a bird (I've no idea what would be the likely answer here).
There's nothing magical about "red" or "hammer". And there's nothing magical about the specific calculations you are asked to do. It's simply that if you ask people, after a series of repetitive tasks to name a color, 98% of the people you ask will say red. If you ask for a tool, they will, usually, say hammer.