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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is the Internet making us stupid?

Us of the Internet, including texting, e-mail, instant messaging, scanning for articles, scanning articles, choosing video over print and the ability to shift on a dime and be onto something new is fundamentally changing the way our brains operate.

"Neuroscientists and psychologists have discovered that, even as adults, our brains are very plastic," Carr explains. "They're very malleable, they adapt at the cellular level to whatever we happen to be doing. And so the more time we spend surfing, and skimming, and scanning ... the more adept we become at that mode of thinking." that's according to Nicholas Carr is the author of the Atlantic article Is Google Making Us Stupid? which he has expanded into a book: "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains." 

Online reading lowers out attention spans, our ability to connect complex thoughts over an established case study basis, through complex argumentation and rational or logical progression. We want instant response when that is not how the world or truth function. Patience and the ability to stay to a project are fading.

But this all could be a part of a natural curve of evolution. Carr admits he's something of a fatalist when it comes to technology. He views the advent of the Internet as "not just technological progress but a form of human regress."

In an interview with NPR he says our human ancestors had to stay alert and shift their attention all the time; cavemen who got too wrapped up in their cave paintings just didn't survive. Carr acknowledges that prolonged, solitary thought is not the natural human state, but rather "an aberration in the great sweep of intellectual history that really just emerged with [the] technology of the printed page."
The Internet, Carr laments, simply returns us to our "natural state of distractedness."


Kevin said...

The internet at some point does make us a bit stupid, but I also think that it is another way to find information to make us a bit smarter. The internet is filled with a ton of information but it is up to us to figure what information to take in, which can determine if it makes us stupid or not.

Anonymous said...

I think the internet is a great tool and I love how when I do not know something I can look it up right away. I do not believe it makes us stupid but I can see that it is distracting.

Kim A (UOP) HUM/186

Miguel White said...

The internet has many possible advantages moving forward, but I believe the price of convenience is the cause for a generation of progressive stupidity. Individuals no longer have to use skills outside of that convenience.