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Is Google Making Us Stupid? 636

mjasay writes "Is Google making us stupid? Following a growing body of research within neuroscience, Carr argues that as we use the Web 'we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.' This sounds great: Who wouldn't want to have the 'recall' capacity of Google? But, as Carr writes: 'The Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition. ... The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It's becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV. When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is recreated in the Net's image.' In other words, as we 'go online' in increasing numbers and to an increasing degree, are we losing our ability to think coherently and deeply, preferring instead to process byte-sized information quickly, regurgitate 140-character 'tweets,' and skim thought? Is the concern overblown, or are we becoming the Web that we created?"
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Is Google Making Us Stupid?

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  • Not Google. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Slashdot Suxxors ( 1207082 ) * on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#23708807)
    The Internet in general will make us sutidp.
    • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bonobo_Unknown ( 925651 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23708879)
      On the contrary the internet makes knowing 'facts' irrelevant, no one has to memorise information anymore. It's the process of information interpretation that is becoming more important than the knowing of information.
      The internet is making us smarter.
      • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:38AM (#23709193)
        I was agreeing with you until the last line. People that recognize it's the interpretation that is more important will be smarter, but from what I've seen it's the quick regurgitation that's the more prized ability (on the internet of course).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          ...but from what I've seen it's the quick regurgitation that's the more prized ability (on the internet of course).
          Agreed, as long as you're not caught quoting complete and utter bullshit. Like any other IS, the main issue is data integrity. Misinformation, either accidental or intentional, is not an action reserved for uber-secret components of Government anymore. Wiki and Google can be your friend and enemy at the same time.

          • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:55AM (#23710551) Homepage
            I think of the internet as one gigantic brain. As your finger touches a hotplate for the first time, you mentally register "hey, that's hot, don't touch." As someone posts, say, a recipe online for the first time, the collective (or at least those who find that information relevant) will be able to recall it using its prefrontal cortex known as "Google" whenever they want. I think that we have much more access to knowledge now. That doesn't mean we're smarter, but that we can allocate our memory for what we feel is more relevant. In the process, we leave the (subjectively) less important material online where we can search any time we want.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Phisbut ( 761268 )

            Wiki and Google can be your friend and enemy at the same time.

            It wasn't so bad when it was just Wiki and Google, because those two required reading, and people with very short attention span would not reach the end of the misinformation before getting bored. Unfortunately, YouTube now makes it very easy for random Joe to spread utter bullshit and misinformation that can make people a little dumber every time. [youtube.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Real research hasn't changed, and the rules apply more than ever as we trust secondary sources more and more. It has been a rule of academic writing to avoid quote / cite secondary sources. You need to draw your conclusions and make your statements based on hard, primary sources. It doesn't make a difference if it was Britannica or Wikipedia; the same rules still apply. There has always been a temptation to use secondary sources. The two things that have changed: Better secondary sources, like Wikipedia, an
        • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:57AM (#23709517)
          It applies in RL too. Part of socializing involves making references to both current events and common interests. Basically, it's worthwhile to be able to pull shakespeare quotes off the top of your head if you were out drinking with a bunch of playwrights.
        • Both (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:58AM (#23709547)
          It will make stupid people stupider, since they will be able to be even more intellectually lazy.

          It will make smart people smarter, since they will have even better resources at their disposal.

          To quote a familiar old monster from the swamp, "It only makes you more of what you really are."
          • Re:Both (Score:5, Funny)

            by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:41AM (#23710301) Journal
            It only makes you more of what you really are.

            Sounds like cocaine.

            Robin Williams: It intensifies your personality. But what if you're an asshole?
          • Re:Both (Score:5, Interesting)

            by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:54AM (#23710531) Homepage Journal

            Good points.

            Here's the old adage: You know how stupid the average person is? Statistically, half the people are more stupid than that.

            Google might shape stupidity in new and different ways, just like literacy did back in an earlier day. But whether most people are saying "I heard it in the marketplace", "I read it in the newspaper", or "I googled it" doesn't much matter: the intelligence divide will continue to separate those who make decisions based on what some authorities say from those who make decisions through their own critical thinking.

            The important thing is whether Google is becoming a catalyst for changing the compounds of administratium that we all have to deal with. The amount of administratium in the local universe appears to be constant for human scale time periods, but if Google is increasing the rate at which administratium oxides ("corporate rust") are converted to more reactive compounds of the element, then the upper quartile of intelligent people need to take notice, and make appropriate adjustments to the strategies and tactics that they use to guide the administrators.

            • Re:Both (Score:5, Informative)

              by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:27PM (#23711107) Homepage Journal
              Here's the old adage: You know how stupid the average person is? Statistically, half the people are more stupid than that.

              Statistically, this is true only if: (a) you're using "average" to denote median, rather than mean, or (b) intelligence follows a perfectly symmetrical distribution. Since "average" in casual usage generally denotes mean, and since many natural phenomena don't follow symmetrical distributions*, "half the people are stupider than average" probably isn't true.

              You could have Googled this information, you know. ;)

              *And yes, I know IQ is defined so that it follows a normal distribution -- thus it's symmetrical by definition. For this reason alone, it's unlikely to correspond to the actual distribution of intelligence in the population.
            • Re:Both (Score:5, Informative)

              by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @01:40PM (#23712295)
              Here's the old adage: You know how stupid the average person is? Statistically, half the people are more stupid than that.

              Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

              http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf [apa.org]

              "This study also enabled us to explore Prediction 3, that incompetent individuals fail to gain insight into their own incompetence by observing the behaviour of other people."

              "[After seeing the answers of others] If anything, bottom-quartile participants tended to raise their already inflated self-estimates, although not to a significant degree"

              The fundamental problem is that, even with the right answers in front of them, the incompetent are unable to distinguish the right from the wrong answers. What the internet brings to the incompetent is AN answer so now they THINK they know.

              The competent can, of course, filter the wheat from the chaff.

              I especially like the concluding remarks from that paper. "That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication. Let us assure our readers that to the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly."


            • Re:Both (Score:4, Insightful)

              by RulerOf ( 975607 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:51PM (#23713297)

              But whether most people are saying "I heard it in the marketplace", "I read it in the newspaper", or "I googled it" doesn't much matter.

              I've had a problem with this for a long time... Newspapers and Magazines, and to an extent, even hearsay, have a very distinct quality that Google doesn't have. Google isn't a tool to disseminate information, nor is it a place to begin learning about the vast wealth of knowledge available on the internet. You see, pointing people who've never used the internet directly at the Google home page and saying "Discover, child!" doesn't work because you already have to know what you're looking for in order to find anything with the damned search engine.

              The problem is that using Google makes you in no way informed, and worse yet, a large amount of people don't actually know how to search for what they really need to find (e.g. searching "a headlight for my car" as opposed to "1995 Grand Am Headlight"). Google doesn't teach you anything, it just makes you believe that you don't actually need to know anything, the same way math students constantly argue that ownership of a calculator negates their need for an understanding of the formulae they're using at the time.

              I could go on, but while Google is a valuable tool, a tool is nothing if you don't know how to use it. If you want to learn on the internet, go somewhere with valuable information, like a news site or Wikipedia. Not a place where, god help them, ignorant people always click on the "sponsored link" without realizing they're walking into a sales pitch for the "BEST HEADLIGHT BRAND/REPLACEMENT SERVICE EVAR" instead of a place to learn how to find one and fix it themselves.
        • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:22AM (#23709957) Homepage Journal
          Taking things to their logical conclusion:

          User: Internet is down throughout the whole building!!! What will we do? Someone just asked me my favourite food, I can't remember, but I know it's on my Myspace!

          Admin: Hang on a minute, I'll google to find out what we should do! *waits* *refreshes* *waits* gimme a minute.. google isn't loading.. oh. Shit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jcnnghm ( 538570 )
          That's part of the problem. You don't actually learn anything through memorization. I always hated history in school, although I would often read about it in my free time. The difference was when I was reading myself I was learning about why people did the things that they did, whereas in school I was engaging in the bulk memorization of time-lines and events, which was worthless. It's kind of like the people that will memorize the core library methods of a programming language, but can't code very well
          • Re:Not Google. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:45PM (#23711395)
            If memorization were de-emphasized in education perhaps the ability to quickly research subjects to form thoughts and opinions on them would be seen as something valuable. Isn't that what learning, and being smart, are all about?

            Yes, but having students show proficiency in making conclusions involves lengthy answers. This is in direct contradiction to the ScanTron Staple of grading.

            (Note, this is not a rag on teachers, but standardized tests.)
          • You don't actually learn anything through memorization.

            I disagree. If someone forced you to memorize the date "July 4, 1776" as the day the U.S. declared independence, and years later you read a book written in England or America in 1778, you automatically know something about the political environment it was written in.

            Having your brain say "hmmm, this happened before X or during Y" is automatic in this case. Whereas you'd have to be quite curious to go out of your way to research the historical contex

          • Re:Not Google. (Score:4, Informative)

            by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:31PM (#23713047)
            "You don't actually learn anything through memorization."

            Completly wrong. You *do* learn by memorization: the facts you memorize themselves. Probably what you meant is that you don't *understand* anything through memorization. But then, that's wrong too. What you memorize are the bricks which you will use to build your vision of a reality: how can you expect to have an understanding about, say, if a man going to the Moon is a big gest or not if you ignore if the Moon is near or far away? Remember that those that ignore their history are condemned to repeat it, so in order to avoid failures of past days you must remember (memorize) them. If you don't know the facts you are open for instance for a politician to distort your vision of reality, that's (one) way demagogy works. The more (relevant) facts you can recall from your memory on sport the more elements you will have to make your mind about an issue.

            You your phrase must be rewritten this way: "You don't actually learn anything through *mere* memorization."

            For the most part memorization is not the issue, but is a most needed precondition.
        • I think the number of stupid people with access to information and education is increasing at a rate greater than average intelligence. People are also learning differently because of the way we have access to information, and that is a smart thing to do. More scientists today with respect to their time read more than they spend time in lab. Were it not for so many books, let alone the internet, that would not be possible. There is also more to learn today than ever before. That doesn't mean scientists are
      • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mollymoo ( 202721 ) * on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23709233) Journal
        If people used the internet to gather information and then interpreted it to form an opinion it would indeed make us smarter. Judging by the comments here and at other similar places, people don't gather information and form opinions nearly as much as they skip the hard step and simply gather opinions and adopt and regurgitate them.
        • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:43AM (#23709287) Homepage Journal
          I think you're basing this on only the people who post content online, like us. There are far more people who read slashdot than post comments to it, for example. So we don't really know if most people are thinking about and interpreting the content to form their own opinions.
          • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:18AM (#23709891)
            If I'm interpreting you correctly, you're saying Lord of the Rings was a better trilogy than the original Star Wars?
          • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by erudified ( 958273 ) <alex@erudified.com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:55AM (#23710555) Homepage

            I've been a lurker here for years (even before I registered an account) and have only posted a handful of times.

            I enjoy the comments way more than the articles (which usually suck, tbh). For any article, there are almost always some extremely insightful comments, and for me, the interpretation of those is the whole point of the site.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I enjoy the comments way more than the articles (which usually suck, tbh). For any article, there are almost always some extremely insightful comments, and for me, the interpretation of those is the whole point of the site.

              Agreed. I agree that the fact interpretation aspect of intelligence will quickly become the bottleneck for the 'new' breed of internet-fed smart people.

              That's why I try to climb to the top of the interpretation food chain, enumerated as follows from low to high:

              1. The article. Second hand recounting of the writers interpretation of fact, or an interpretation of the interviewee's knowledge. Skip it.
              2. The summary. A poster's alcohol-aided version of what they would have preferred to read as they looked
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              While I read the articles to avoid being moderated RTFA, I generally see headlines on Slashdot much more as "topic of discussion for the day". In that respect, there is no site quite like Slashdot, IMHO. It is a very unique threaded debate archive unlike any other.
          • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:09PM (#23710817)
            Google can encourage mental habits where people can talk about subjects that they do not understand.

            This was covered in one of Feynman's semi-autobiographical books, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! [amazon.com] There's a bit where he goes to Brazil. There, in the science classes, the professor would call on the students, and a student would stand and deliver the answer right out of the textbook. This bothered Feynman somehow, so one day he's looking out the window at the sun glinting beautifully off the bay, and asks the students to point out an example of polarized light. Reflected light is polarized, but the students were unable to use their memorized knowledge. Feynman's conclusion was that the science professors weren't teaching science, but public speaking and elocution.

            Vernor Vinge also covers this in Rainbows End [amazon.com]. The protagonist, a revived Pulitzer-Prize winning poet from the old days, notes that the younger folks seemed to have an inability to really synthesize knowledge and understand anything, though they could instantly look anything up through their wearable computers and talk about it.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Gilmoure ( 18428 )
              There was some old SF short story, where the big war may finally be won because they found a guy who'd taught himself how to do calculations in his head and not using a hand held. Once he trained up lots of folks, they'd be sure to triumph!
      • Re: Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:46AM (#23709341)

        On the contrary the internet makes knowing 'facts' irrelevant, no one has to memorise information anymore.
        You'd be right if the internet has an answer to every possible question, and the answers you find are correct. Neither of those is true.

        In general you can find answers on the weirdest subjects, and in most cases what you find reflects reality, especially if you compare unrelated sources. But the internet is no more reliable than traditional mass media, it is wrong sometimes. Don't tell me you haven't ever read stuff on the internet that (from personal experience) you *know* to be incorrect. I know I have.

        Personally, I prefer the internet to provide material, 'leads' if you will, but then do fact-finding by combining that info with your own knowledge and real-world experience. The internet may tell you if something is likely true, but before claiming to others it is, you should determine the facts yourself. The internet can help you with that, but does NOT hold all the answers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sancho ( 17056 ) *
          http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html [multivax.com] seems particularly appropriate here.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Exactly. Which is why I think the Internet will make us more rather than less intelligent.

          There is indeed a lot of information available on the Internet, but learning to differentiate between the wheat and the chaff will sharpen our critical thinking skills.

          IMHO, having a wealth of information -- even if some of it is flat out wrong -- is a (tm) Good Thing, as it allows us to research, analyze and draw our own conclusions about data.
      • If nobody remembers the "facts" anymore, then how is it to be judged that the "facts" in the intarwebs are true? .. Of course, history has always been written in biased fashion, so I guess there's no change there. The sad thing is that Internet, at least theoretically, provides us the opportunity to change this; having differing views of history on the record more easily.

        Whether that will happen or not, remains to be seen, of course.
      • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:57AM (#23709513)
        You still need facts for context to understand the information google gives you, and as a first-order filter on whether it makes any sense. Chocolate chip cookies are often drunk with milk. Otherwise you can be distracted by irrelevant information. Or people trying to convince you to try shrimp cookies, perhaps because they're trying to sell you special shrimp cookie sheets.

        Without that background, you'll run the risk of being a Chinese "invisible idiot" who is always out of sight, out of mind. Machine translation was first attempted in the 1950s.

        One thing google is very good at is exposing you to new things that can be used to broaden your knowledge, so you get a cascading effect. But you have to be very careful -- there are eddies and cesspools of groups that create their own reality (Bush is one of the best presidentz evr!) and you need that outside context to see just how out of touch they are.

        This problem has existed since the first libraries -- how could you ever be sure that the book you are reading isn't full of shit? -- but people were generally only exposed to stuff on the edge of their existing knowledge. Google makes pet cats good. It also exposes younger and younger people to information they don't have the experience to judge properly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The thing about tweets is also off the mark... for those people who rise to the limited medium, 140 characters can be a challenge to be complete and concise and even funny in barely three lines. Sure, there's lots of IM-speek, but I think Twitter and other such things are forcing people to trim down the bloat that had crept into modern written speech. You can't fit that many empty buzzwords into an IM and still have it make sense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hackstraw ( 262471 )
        On the contrary the internet makes knowing 'facts' irrelevant, no one has to memorise information anymore.

        Right, and plus the "facts" are changing at such a rapid pace, that knowing them in your memory is pointless when you can get the current "facts" with a few keystrokes.

        I heard of some nit out there that didn't think that Einstein was that smart because he didn't know how many feet were in a mile. Einstein's response, "I can look that up".

        So, by the nit's logic, we are all as smart as Einstein now :)
      • Re:Not Google. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:40AM (#23710287)
        Memorizing specific dates and absolutely precise things (eg. conversion tables) may not be quite as valuable today given the ability to look up such things.

        However, there is one horribly glaring flaw in your position. The process of interpreting information requires context and knowledge, which comes in no small part from your memory of pertinent (and often seemingly unrelated) facts.

      • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Drogo007 ( 923906 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#23710419)
        The internet is NOT making us smarter - it's simply making the underlying truth more evident:

        The ability to successfully process and analyze information is far more rare than the ability to regurgitate facts. Now the the internet is decreasing the need to memorize mounds of facts, the people who got classified as smart simply because they were able to memorize gobs and gobs of useless facts are no longer as valued. So we're left with the subset who could actually process, analyze and synthesize information to begin with.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by niktemadur ( 793971 )
        On the contrary the internet makes knowing 'facts' irrelevant, no one has to memorise information anymore. It's the process of information interpretation that is becoming more important than the knowing of information.
        The internet is making us smarter.

        Agreed. The internet is a tool, whether it makes us smarter or dumber depends on the person who's using it. Before the internet, whoever was using encyclopedias or buying People magazine (or Larry Flint's Hustler, which had astonishingly good journalistic ar
    • by montyzooooma ( 853414 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23709035)
      It's the Turing Test in reverse. Eventually we'll all be so dumb a machine can pass for human.
    • by martinw89 ( 1229324 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:33AM (#23709093)

      I'm sorry, I caught something about Google... Oh, and the Internet.


    • Re:Not Google. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrMacman2u ( 831102 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:10AM (#23709729) Journal
      I disagree, we're getting stupidly... stupidest.... stupidmost... more dumber on our own.

      'The Google' helps edumacate us dumberating peoples by allowing rapid look up of information that wasn't known.

      As for 'reducing our recall capacity' I think that is a load of bull puckey. Not everyone wants their memory bogged down with trivial and possibly highly insignificant factoids.

      I use Google search as an extremely high speed way to look for new information, confirm shaky knowledge and learn new things about a particular subject.

      For example, I knew nothing about ATMega 8 Programmable Integrated Circuit microcontrollers a few days ago. I went straight to Google and now, 5 days later, I have ordered a handful of the PIC's in question, the parts to build my own in circuit programmer and have learned enough to begin to write my own programs in C and even a bit of assembler.

      So instead of Google making us less intelligent, I would like to argue that by allowing a centralized source of not only common "minor" information that we refer to many times a day, but also being a nearly endless source of new information and knowledge, Google is actually helping us to become more intelligent and more efficient.
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:23AM (#23708839) Homepage Journal
    do cars make people drive drunk?
    do purses make people thieves?

    I think tools of any kind are just there, and it is our choices that determine what happens to us. They can be good or bad - depending on what we choose to do with them.
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:29AM (#23708989)
      I think tools of any kind are just there, and it is our choices that determine what happens to us. They can be good or bad - depending on what we choose to do with them.

      Spoons make you fat if you use them to shovel tons food in your mouth. Likewise, if you use a calculator without at least a cursory check of the result, you'll likely end up with stupid results somewhere. And for google, nobody is stupid enough to trust them to give unbiased search results, so there's always an element of distrust that makes this tool, like all tools, something useful. It's only when you blindly trust google, or your calculator, or your spoon that you end up stupid (and fat).
      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#23710403) Journal
        Well, the sad thing is that some people actually do use Google as some kind of definitive proof. And often not even as in "Google found a peer-reviewed authority on the domain, who explained that X is true". More like if searching for X returned 200,000 hits and searching for !X returned 100,000, then obviously X is true.

        We've even had an article recently which claimed you can know who's gonna win an election, by how many hits Google returns when you search for their name. And when it all broke down for Ron Paul, they just handwaved an and removed it from the sample, rather than wonder if their hypothesis is false.

        Now I'm not saying that Google is making us stupid, but that IMHO stupid people unsurprisingly end up doing stupid things with it. So far.

        On the other hand, maybe it is worth wondering what long term effects it might have. Calculators didn't make everyone stupid either, and even less so in the short run, but some half a century later we have a lot less people who can do even elementary addition or subtraction without one. And a lot of people who not only took calculators as an excuse to not learn their 1+1=2, but as an excuse to not learn any maths at all. Why bother, when some calculator or computer or cash register can do it for you anyway?

        But the real harm is that maths isn't just about being able to sum your grocery bill in your head. Most of it is about long abstract operations with all sorts of funny letters, so to speak. Actually calculating a result for some particular values of those variables, is the least interesting part of it. But that's based on concepts and theorems, which are in turn based on others, and so on all the way to that 1+1=2 you start with in primary school. And the more you skip at the front, in the name of "bah, I'll just use a calculator for that", the less of a foundation for the whole edifice you'll have later.

        In effect, it's not just that some people use a tool (well or badly, as the case may be), but that a lot of people effectively don't have the foundation to understand anything maths-related. I.e., they won't even know what an integral is, or when to use the funny tool to calculate one for them.

        And in some countries already the maths and science education in school is gradually getting dumbed down, so they just avoid the issue altogether. So regardless of whether they're teh uber-nerdy genius, or the school jock, whole generations do end up knowing less when they finish school.

        So I sorta idly wonder if, given ample time, Google and Wikipedia will have the same effect on, say, logic. Why bother learning to follow an inferrence and examine the premises, when you can probably just Google the conclusion later? Let's just hope I'm wrong.
  • by OzRoy ( 602691 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:25AM (#23708871)
    It seems that every piece of technology gets accused of this.

    Television, Calculators, Computers. All these things have been accused of making our children stupid. Now it seems it's Google's turn.

    I'm sure there are more examples, but I can't think of them, and not sure what search terms to put into Google.
    • by SputnikPanic ( 927985 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23709045)
      Writing (if you're willing to consider writing as technology). The ancient Greeks (Homer era and before) were said to be able to perform what we today would consider absolutely incredible feats of memory.

      Of course that's not to say that writing didn't come with its attendant benefits, too...
      • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:37AM (#23709183) Homepage Journal
        Memory and intelligence are two very different things. A person who remembers a lot doesn't necessarily have the ability to put concepts together and form new ones. So I wouldn't say the ancient Greeks were smarter than us because of what we'd consider feats of memory.
        • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:17AM (#23709873)

          It's true that memory and intelligence are distinct, but the effect in both cases is the same. We're talking about using technology as a substitute for using our natural abilities. In the ancient Greek case, we're talking about using literacy as a substitute for memorisation. Did that cause our memory to wither? Transportation is used as a substitute for walking places. Did that cause our health to wither? Calculators are used as a substitute for mental arithmetic. Did that cause our arithmetic skills to wither? Google is used as a substitute for general knowledge. Is that causing our knowledge to wither?

          If history is any measure, after a generation in which people complain about such dystrophy, society will begin considering the ability to use the replacement to be a quality. Literacy is now a skill, not something causing bad memory. Driving is considered a skill. The ability to use a calculator is considered a skill. The ability to search effectively will soon be considered a skill.

          • by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:28PM (#23712995) Journal

            ...In the ancient Greek case, we're talking about using literacy as a substitute for memorisation. Did that cause our memory to wither?

            Yes. Memory is a skill that can be improved by practice. In the ancient world, having a prodigious memory was the mark of an educated man. This ability was acquired through constant practice. In fact, education consisted largely of rote memorization right through the nineteenth century—well past the introduction of writing.

            Transportation is used as a substitute for walking places. Did that cause our health to wither?

            Absolutely—if you equate physical fitness with "health". Before motorized transport became common, almost everyone walked wherever they had to go. Today, only fitness nuts walk (or jog or whatever). There were no couch potatoes in the 16th century (unless you count the few aristocrats who could get people to carry them around).

            Calculators are used as a substitute for mental arithmetic. Did that cause our arithmetic skills to wither?

            Yes. Again, the ability to do arithmetic in your head is a skill that can be acquired only through practice. Almost all the shop-clerks these days can't compute change—they just go by what the cash register tells them.

            Rhetorical questions aren't a terribly good argumentative technique—unless you truly know the answers before you ask them.

            You might have argued that despite the weaknesses introduced by these technological advances, they were beneficial because technology also brought with it compensations that more than make up for the debits. Writing made accessible much more knowledge than any one person could ever hope to memorize; motorized transport allowed not only personal mobility, but the creation of an industrial society; calculators remove much of the tedium from keeping your checkbook balanced. (And computers allow computations that could not be done at all by even the most talented arithmeticians.)

            Like all these, Google is a two-edged sword, and as many have noted, much depends not on the tool, but upon how it's used. I absolutely love Google. Gone are the days when an obscure question would nag at me, and I wouldn't find the answer for years. If I want to know the words of a song or poem, if I want to know what Project Orion was, or if I want to find out how to make my own UTP/Ethernet/Cat5 cables, I just turn to Google. Curiosity has never been so easily satisfied.

            The deleterious effects of Google are, however, quite serious. There are three:

            1. Shallowness: Mostly, the web gives simple answers; people get a lot of results, so they skim instead of reading them thoroughly, as they would a reference book.
            2. Unverifiability: It is very difficult to verify the degree of authoritativeness of any information found on the web; the amount of false, misleading, vague, or incomprehensible "information" on the web probably exceeds that which is true and useful.
            3. Transience: Though it's seldom mentioned, this is the worst weakness of the web as a source of information—you simply can't be sure that anything you find today will be there tomorrow. That means it's pointless to cite a web link as the source of your information for anything you write (on the web or otherwise). You simply can't rely on that link remaining stable for any length of time.

            It's crucial to understand that none of these three weaknesses should be a serious problem for anyone who has the fundamentals of a proper education. An educated person knows how to locate substantive sources for serious research, and has learned the skill of reading closely. An educated person can think critically, and will not simply accept unsubstantiated statements as fact. An educated person knows that the web, as it is today, is simply not a substitute for a research library

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by value_added ( 719364 )
          A person who remembers a lot doesn't necessarily have the ability to put concepts together and form new ones.

          Oddly enough, without the ability to memorise a bunch of boring facts, it's impossible to derive a concept. Or be able to evaluate the validity of the concepts.

          I don't care whether it's rote memorisation of multiplication tables by grade schoolers, memorisation of names and dates for high schoolers studying history (or whatever they call it today), or a shitload of Latin by those studying some of th
      • by NtroP ( 649992 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:25AM (#23710017)

        Of course that's not to say that writing didn't come with its attendant benefits, too...

        Exactly. Every new technology has trade-offs. I think we stick with and adopt technology that works, meaning that we consider the trade-offs worth it. That is not to say that we don't loose something valuable when an older form is replaced. Today, I hear from my distant family several times a day through email, twitter, and text messages. I feel really connected to them. I almost never get letters any more and don't really miss them. When I do get them, I love to read them. There is something about putting down your thoughts by putting pen to paper that gives it poignancy. Recently, my son was in bootcamp and could only receive snail-mail. I found that is was hard sitting down to write a letter at first, but I came away from it feeling strangely rewarded.

        I think books are also going to go away (from the mainstream) in a similar way. I am a bibliophile. I love to read books, but even more, I love to hold a book in my hands, feel it's heft and smell it's pages. I have almost a hundred, leather-bound classics in my office library and there is nothing like sitting down to read one. But, to be honest, most of the "reading" these days is in the form of audiobooks on my iPhone. I'm too busy to have the time to just sit and read. However, I'm consuming more books than ever now that I can do two things at once. I listened to Fahrenheit 451 yesterday while mowing and raking my (2+ acre) lawn. My wife also reads out loud to me while I'm cooking and doing dishes (we're reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow).

        The danger I see is that we are more likely to get the "Cliff's NOtes" version of information off the internet. I can go online and find out enough about the story-line and plot of Fahrenheit 451 to carry on an intelligent dinner conversation, or recognize when it's being referenced in another book, but I'll never get the same depth of understanding, or come away with my own interpretation, unless I take the time to read the whole thing, unabridged, start-to-finish. Also, there are some books that are impossible to make into an audio book (think Flowers for Algernon). The only way to get the full impact is to see the words written on the page.

        So, yes, I think something is lost in the trade-off. However, I think the the balance of benefit tips toward technology and the internet. I'd never have taken the time to run downstairs and look up how to spell Algernon from the book spine. A quick google search told me I had it right. I'm not going to page through my copy of Fahrenheit 451 to find a poignant passage to quote to my wife, I'll look it up on-line an read it to her from there. The internet makes information so accessible that we are more likely to take the time to look something up, rather than going my memory.

        Also, I find myself stumbling on information I'd never have thought to look up while searching for other things. I can't count the number of times I've looked something up on Wikipedia and followed link after link down a rabbit-hole that lead me far from the initial article in what I call "stream-of-consciousness" surfing. This would never happen for me in a meatspace encyclopedia.

        Technology also gives me things like spell check. This is very important for me. English is not my first language and I've never gotten the hang of spelling in it. Having the ability to type a word like it sounds and then pick the right spelling from a list is priceless (and save y'all from having to struggle through my attempts).

        So, no, I don't think google is making us stupid, but I do mourn the things that will be lost. I'm sentimental about my old books and I'm afraid they will become relics and collector's items. But I'm not ready to live in the past (yet) and feel the benefits of the WWWeb and technology outweigh that which is lost.

        Now get off my lawn!

    • by Gandalf ( 787 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:37AM (#23709163) Homepage
      It seems that every piece of technology gets accused of this.

      That's because the constant is our stupidity, not the technology showcasing it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drsmithy ( 35869 )

      Television, Calculators, Computers. All these things have been accused of making our children stupid. Now it seems it's Google's turn.

      I find it quite believable the first two are significant contributors to the atrocious levels of spelling/grammar, and mathematics, that a large chunk of the population under 25 seems to have today.

    • by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:03AM (#23709629) Homepage
      Yeah, except I think television actually did make people stupid. Compare anything on the Internet to 1970s Love Boat reruns, or for that matter anything currently on MTV, and it's obvious that the Internet is a giant step up. Then consider that starting in the 1950s, most Americans spent the majority of their free time glued to the TV. It wasn't called the boob tube for nothing, especially back in the days where you had three networks producing almost nothing but total crap.

  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) * on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23708873) Homepage Journal
    Is Slashdot making us stupid? We've lost the ability to come up with new jokes, instead preferring to spread the same old memes about hot grits, Natalie Portman being naked and petrified, welcome our new Google overlords, and saying that In Soviet Russia, YOU make Google stupid.

    Oh well, I guess all are brain are belong to Slashdot.

  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23708889) Homepage Journal
    correct question:

    "are google making us stupids? is our childrens learning?"
  • Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23708903)
    Most people lost the ability to think coherently and deeply long before the Internet. It's just becoming far more apparent now that every idiot can set up a MySpace/Twitter.
  • by elguillelmo ( 1242866 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23708911)
    "Is the Internet making us even more stupid?"
  • Just because it makes some tasks easier does not mean we are getting dumber or lazier.

    It frees us for more fun things, like, uh, using google for porn.

    Even calculators didn't make us lazier, hell if anything it gave me time to figure out hard math but making the simple math automatic.
  • On the contrary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slyborg ( 524607 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23708923)
    The expertise required to advance development in many fields is becoming more and more immense, and beyond what a human brain can easily absorb in a lifetime. The Internet allows the time to acquire information to be radically decreased, which will make it possible to continue the advancement of knowledge. It would still happen without it, but I think at a decreasing pace.

    To "stand on the shoulders of giants" requires an ever longer ladder.
  • by stealie72 ( 246899 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23708925)
    This sounds so much like old teachers fretting over the use of calculators in math class.

    In some ways, the scale of it is different, and it will be interesting to see how a kid born in 1995 thinks differently at 30 than one born in 1975, but still.

    The net gives us all of the knowledge of humanity at our fingertips. It frees us from thinking about facts and gives us more time for abstract thinking and problem solving. At least for those of us who remember a time before google. Maybe a child born today really will be made dumb by google.
  • Well.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23708927) Homepage
    > Is Google Making Us Stupid?

    I can't answer your question, my internet connection was down all morning.
  • Wish I had access to the original Atlantic Monthly article, although all I could get at was the blog. Anyone else find a link to the original source?

    The internet (and to a lesser extent, Google) could be making us stupid ... or perhaps it's merely a desire to have access to information just in time?

    There is so much information out there, it's rapidly becoming impossible for me to read "all the classics" in my leisure time. So the answer is to make a machine do it and just access the information just in time.

    I don't know if it's making us stupider or merely more boring or even, perhaps, more effective at a specialized skill while lacking breadth?

    If it's making us stupid you should at least be able to provide evidence that we are worse at academics than we have been prior to the internet. I'm sorry but claiming the youth are no longer interested in the media that mattered to prior generations just doesn't cut it.

    I'm sure I'll bitch that my son doesn't read every Philip K. Dick book or Ray Bradbury short story when I'm long in the tooth. I think it would be unfair to claim that makes him stupid, however.
  • On CNet (Score:5, Informative)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:28AM (#23708951) Homepage Journal
    Ironically this article is on CNet, which is full of "byte-sized information", "regurgitated tweets", and "skim thought." Just another sensationalist article on a site that claims to be above the problem while actually promoting it.
  • Old people again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:28AM (#23708963)
    Old people say "this new music or entertainment or technology is ruining the young". We fear this new thing.

    If people were so smart before Google, they might remember when this was said about calculators and spell checkers and Elvis and moving pictures and electricity.
  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:29AM (#23708981)
    > as we "go online" in increasing numbers and to an increasing degree, are we losing our ability to think coherently and deeply,

    Oh no. It's the other way around: people who have no ability to think coherently or deeply are going online in increasing numbers and to an increasing degree.

    > preferring instead to process byte-sized information quickly, regurgitate 140-character "tweets," and skim thought?

    Now that there are so many people online who are of the aforementioned variety, a great deal of "information" is created by them. Is it any wonder we have to learn to skim? If we read it deeply, our minds would be fried.
  • Absolutely Not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:29AM (#23708985)
    The Internet does not make us stupid. Lazy, perhaps, but not stupid. Indeed, I would say that the increased MENTAL interaction it provides makes us, in many ways, smarter and more flexible.

    Also, why the focus on the tools it replaces? Is this not the way of things? Tools are used until a better one comes along. Or would the Author have us all still using stone axes or flintlock rifles or riding horseback to get to work each day?

    Ultimately, the Internet is a tool and simultaneously a source of entertainment. It expands our horizons and connects us to people in new and exciting ways. What's not to love?
  • by PopCulture ( 536272 ) <PopCultureNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:30AM (#23709009)
    ... electrolytes!
  • Both yes and no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23709029)
    On the one hand, Google is reducing my desire to learn. When I can just look it up at any moment, I'm not really trying to memorize it.

    On the other hand, Google has brought me into contact with exponentially more information than I would have otherwise had. Pre-internet, we just used to believe the person deemed most knowledgeable on the topic. Post-internet, we now look stuff up to settle disputes of knowledge. In fact, some of the stuff we all 'knew' then was wrong.

    If any of this information is 'sticking' we're probably smarter because of it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cowscows ( 103644 )
      Google and the internet in genera are pretty neutral as are most tools. As is usually the case, their effects on you as a person are pretty much defined by how you choose to use that tool.

      If all you're looking for is simple answers/facts/etc, then Google is pretty easy, and like you said, you can grab that info quickly and then forget about it. If you want more in-depth understanding of a particular topic, chances are the internet has that bouncing around somewhere as well, and Google's not a bad place to f
  • by Filter ( 6719 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23709037)
    Chasing after everything they do.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:34AM (#23709117)
    I had forgotten how tedious it was to do research before there was google and other library databases until I saw the 25th anniversary showing of WarGames on AMC last week. The kid is tryign to break into an account and researches the account-holder's in the library life for clues. I spent many of a college evening in the library during my college years doing that.

    I think its much more important with what you do with your raw material afterwards than how painful it was to obtain the materials. I'd prefer a studing to write a novel critical review of 2 or 3 major conflicting sources rather than some weak regurgitation (or direct copy) of a large number of sources.
  • by Quickfingers ( 926214 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:35AM (#23709127)
    Stupidity is the inability to correctly reason given a set of perceived facts. Acquisition of knowledge, no matter the source, can not produce stupidity; only complacence can do that.
  • Noe! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:36AM (#23709153) Journal
    Ewe muss bee knew hear. Naw, Goooooooogle ain't be makin' us stew pod. Teh internets is makin us stew pod.

    Whut iz makin uss stooopid is reading shit from people like Nick Carr. "Following a growing body of research within neuroscience, Carr argues that as we use the web 'we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies'" despite the fact that Carr has absolutely no credentials in the field of neuroscience whatever.

    The guy's a fucking writer for Gawd sake! Wikipedia entry: "Nicholas G. Carr (born 1959) is an American writer who has published books and articles on technology, business, and culture. He was educated at Dartmouth College and Harvard University.[1]"

    Guys like Nick Carr are making us stupid by writing utter bullshit thet nobody can rebut anywhere that matters.

    If I say something stupid about physics on slashdot, someone with a degree in physics will set me and everyone reading my comment straight (and it happens lots, kiddies). When Carr spouts his unlearned drivel on c|net, nobody has a chance to rebut anywhere that matters unless his drivel gets on slashdot. Then kids who haven't read enough or lived enough to realise the taste of bullshit when it's spoon fed to them believe the hokum and parrot it elsewhere, lending credence to dumb "facts".
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:38AM (#23709201) Homepage Journal
    when we have increased tool usage, we have started to become a less strong specie as a result. whereas our ancestors were stronger, now modern man is by no means on par with wilderness standards when it comes to strength.

    are we worse for it ? on the contrary, much better. see, we have a goddamn civilization going on here.

    same goes for internet. we are creating a collective , all encompassing, participation based brain that can take over the menial parts of thinking process from us. even, due to automation, physical aspects of goods production too. what we will be doing in future will be creating. creating new ways and methods that we can practice through the world wide brain, internet, and whatever physical application/appliance we have attached to it, and the computers.

    is this bad ? is this going to make people weak, lazy species that only eat and get fat ?

    no. by nature, mankind cannot stop. if they are free of all worries, they go find something else to do. examine how high is the trend towards extreme sports in the last 30 years that wealth and comfort throughout the world increased in levels incomparable with last 3 century's standards. people are doing stuff that would be seen as crazy, lunatic, dangerous stuff 200 years ago, as sports today.

    check scandinavian countries. they have a very high quality of life, they are insured to their toes, can live on unemployment money very comfortably. and are they sitting lazy and getting fat ? nay. there are a lot of open source projects being produced and released through scandinavian countries. they are many people involved in charity work in scandinavian countries.

    thats the way of life. it gets easier, and as it gets easier mankind finds new stuff to do, never stays idle or lazy.

    no worries.
  • by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:52AM (#23709415)
    Well. I dont think its making US, stupid. I think its making YOU stupid.

    There is this great essay by the celebrated Sartori called "Homo Videns" written somewhere arround the 80s. In it he makes the pretty good case that when politics and, in general, most of the information we receive moves to mass media and, particularly, video, men stop excercising their capacity to abstract, translate and analyze symbolic representations of reality (letters, at their most basic and atomic representation) and thus abandon what makes us Sapiens: the ability to apply abstraction to extract information from reality and analyze it through symbolic manipulation.

    He argues that images are the most concrete form of information. If you read in your red-note paper about that huge car crash, you need to imagine it. Information missing from the blurb are oportunities for abstraction and extrapolation (was the car red? how do you imagine it? was it new... was it a sports car? was the dead woman a blonde?). An image, in contrast, does not invite you to think: it invites you to accept the precise and concrete information you see in two seconds of evening news: brains splatered on sidewalk with blonde, long hairs sticking out from it, all in HDTV, 1080 resolution.

    So, back to my original idea. I think whomever chooses to abandon "Sapiency", is wellcome to do so. Its not like humanity will loose anything: we are mostly ignorant assholes, only ever the elites get mildly educated and its supperb and almost very rare that people get to this state of openess and continuous learning that i like to call intelectuallity. Then again, compared with the TV, the Internet ROCKS. At least it gives you the CHANCE to keep being sapient, to keep reading and writing long thoughtful blurbs if you want. It lets you get in touch with like-minded individuals. The intenet is full of potential for this, whereas the world we come from is just the fucking TV.

    So i think we were already idiots, dont go blaming my internet of that.
  • Exactly!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:53AM (#23709455)
    This is precisely how books made us stupid when the printing press came into being. Before that, everyone figured out everything on their own and they were all geniuses. Then the printing press came around and people said, "Hey, I don't have to learn anymore because all the information is in books now."

    Sorry, but this is a pretty stupid line of reasoning in my mind. But then maybe that's because Google made me stupid.

    That's not to say that the net might, to some degree, worsen the problem of ADD/ADHD which I think has been made worse by television already. I can't say for sure. But does it make us stupid? I don't think so.

    I can't speak for others, but since the WWW came into being, and my access to information has increased, I've been able to learn more, faster, than I ever had the opportunity to learn before then.
  • Fear of technology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <.ckratsch. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:01AM (#23709589)
    Even in the summary, all these other, older technologies are mentioned. Why is it perfectly normal to use those technologies, but not this one? Didn't the printing press relieve us of having to write everything by hand, and didn't written language relieve us of having to simply remember everything? You can't be saying that written language contributed to some loss of coherence because it freed us from having to remember so much, can you?

    The knowledge and coherence of humanity only continues to grow in size and complexity because of technology. It's not static. Modern technology allows us to use our innate comprehension to think about different things, or think about the same things differently, just the way that written language allowed ancient peoples to think about greater and more complex economies - since they were able to write down the exact details of trades instead of having to remember them.

    This all boils down to "those damned kids and their rock and roll."
  • No.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by composer777 ( 175489 ) * on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:39AM (#23710261)
    No, I don't think the internet will be making us stupid, not when what it's replacing is TV, radio, and corporate controlled newspapers.
  • by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:42AM (#23710313) Homepage Journal
    I've seen this argument applied to other technologies too. Eclipse, for example. A friend of mine used to say that he would never use an IDE because it was for "stupid people" and that he didn't need a programs help to find things in the application he was working on.

    I tried to explain to him that all it did was automate the mundane tasks to make you more efficient.

    In a way my friend was right. Because you use Eclipse to locate issues with your code or to find symbols or to refactor, you may lose some of the skills you acquired to do those things.

    But also... you're time is better spent.

    All google is doing is automating the mudane task of sorting and searching through tons of data.

    So, on some level yes. But as long as you stay in practice with some things.. it should be okay. Challenge yourself every once in a while to do things the hard way. :)

    In parting... how many of you can take a square root without using a calculator? ;)

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:56AM (#23710569) Homepage

    In the last six months, Google has been visibly "dumbed down". Originally, Google was literal about spelling; a misspelled word would not match much. Then Google started offering hints: "Did you mean Mississippi?." Now, Google has aggressive spelling correction, and looks for the most common word close to the input word. To look for an uncommon word, it may be necessary to exclude common words similar to it with "-".

    This reflects user behavior. Most search requests are incredibly dumb. Look at any list of top queries. In fact, most requests to Google don't reach the search engine at all; there's a canned set of responses to common queries in the front end machines, which cuts the load on the main engine by at least 50%. Yahoo put considerable effort into special cases for common queries (weather, sports, directions, etc.) back in 2007, and for a while Yahoo was technically ahead, not that it helped their stock any. Now Google is doing that too.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:03PM (#23710725)

    [The Internet is] becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV.
    No, my calculator is my telephone, before that, it was my solar calculator, before that, it was my calculator-watch, before that, it was my battery calculator (Who really googles (424+26)/78 to get the answer?).

    My telephone is my cell phone. Before that, it was nothing (no phone), before _that_, it was my land-line.

    I love internet maps, because they do so much, but they don't beat my paper map when I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere.

    The internet isn't my clock, my internal clock works pretty well. If I have to know the exact time, then I suppose the internet is my clock... sort of: I check my cell phone which is updated by the cell network, which is updated by some atomic clock over the internet (presumably), and I like that set up. It means I'm never more than a few milliseconds off what my servers think the time is.

    Radio and TV? No, the Internet is no where close to being our Radio and TV. I think nothing will be like "our Radio and TV" ever again. It used to be everyone had a similar experience with local radio and TV, now people get to choose what they want when they want. If people switch to Internet viewing, it will be more like buying movies from the brick and mortar.

    I suppose it is replacing our press and typewriter, but how does that make us dumber?

    Is the concern overblown or are we becoming the Web that we created?
    Overblown. I still remember as much as I used to, and now I have a way to find more information about things. Google expands the limits of our potential so that we _think_ we're dumber because we finally see a portion of the vastness of human knowledge and we realize we don't know jack in comparison. Was it Socrates or Plato that said something about that? Hold on, let me check Wikipedia...
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:57PM (#23713411) Journal
    Is no one here a historian?

    This thread screams for a reference to King Thamus of ancient Egypt who once made the same arguments against the development of writing. He argued that writing would dumb humans down.

    Read Plato's "The Phaedrus" for more on this.

    http://www.units.muohio.edu/technologyandhumanities/plato.htm [muohio.edu]

    But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.