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Is Google Making Us Stupid?

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-time-to-read-the-whole-article dept.

Google 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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Not Google. (5, Funny)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708807)

The Internet in general will make us sutidp.

Re:Not Google. (5, Insightful)

Bonobo_Unknown (925651) | more than 6 years ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Not Google. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709473)

...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. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709199)

*whooooosh*

Re:Not Google. (4, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709233)

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. (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709287)

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.

Re: Not Google. (5, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Not Google. (0, Offtopic)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709429)

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 . . .

So what will you take, the red pill or the blue pill.

Sarva Dharma Sunya Ity

Possibly a dangerous development .. (3, Interesting)

ccr (168366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709467)

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.

Re:Not Google. (5, Funny)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709035)

It's the Turing Test in reverse. Eventually we'll all be so dumb a machine can pass for human.

Re:Not Google. (5, Funny)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709093)

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

What?

Re:Not Google. (1)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709159)

I have had a bumper sticker for a long time which states this very thing.

Re:Not Google. (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709249)

Did you mean: studio [google.com]

do spoons make us fat? (5, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708839)

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.

Re:do spoons make us fat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23708865)

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.

That's what this guy seems to be saying, that our choice of what we do with the internet is making us stupid. I think he may have a valid point.

Re:do spoons make us fat? (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#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).

Re:do spoons make us fat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709419)

I agree. Any tool can be misused and Google (and the Internet) means that we don't have to remember as much. And it has replaced other tools we previously used. I personally haven't opened a telephone book in years. In some ways it replaces other media like TV. But it can be a huge timesink with MMORPGs, youtube, etc. Plus on the whole it is very distracting--Look, boobies! Now where was I again?

Isn't this true of any technology? (5, Insightful)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (5, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 6 years ago | (#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...

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709183)

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.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709363)

Agreed. The point was simply that writing did lead to a diminishment of at least one specific measure of mental ability.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (1)

GAVollink (720403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709433)

I've seen evidence of what you are talking about in real-life, but usually only among the young, or those whom, due to enchanted lives, never really grew up. Generally, it takes some time and experience to turn the random facts into usable knowledge, but I think "most people" do have the ability, few have the ability to do it quickly. I would like to think of myself in the quicker than many, slower than many category. But I've a few years under my belt now to know that there's still much that I don't know.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (1)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709343)

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...

Of course, what counted as memorizing then was more than slightly less accurate than what we would consider acceptable today. I don't mean oral formulaic compositions, rather quotes tended to be close but not quite accurate. Strict accuracy wasn't even really an issue for them.

Moreover, you have to wonder what the average person actually memorized, if it's much greater than what the average person in a developed country can recall about professional sports, television shows, music, etc.

The transition from an oral culture starts with "Homer" and doesn't really end until the fourth-century BCE, as it's usually mapped. "Before Homer" means the Dark Ages of Archaic Greece, when for all we know they had the internet, because there's just no evidence, and I don't believe any references to memory actually refer to that period.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709379)

if you're willing to consider writing as technology
Well, the word technology comes from the Greek works techne, meaning 'art' and logia, meaning 'skill'. In modern day useage, we mean that it is the practical application of knowledge. Certainly writing requires knowledge (of both the language and subject matter) and is a practical application of that knowledge and associated arts and skills. So, yeah, I'd say writing is a technology.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709119)

When writing was introduced to Ancient Greece, Plato argued it would make his student stupid. His argument was that they would not have to memorize lessons by rote anymore.

Luddites will always find a reason to spurn technology.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (5, Insightful)

Gandalf (787) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709163)

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:Isn't this true of any technology? (1)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709393)

It seems that every piece of technology gets accused of this. That's because the constant is our stupidity, not the technology showcasing it.

Or it could be the lure of the flashy soapbox for all too many scientists, self-styled analysts, and reactionary thinkers overall. I mean, in the face of technology you don't understand, how do you stay relevant? You claim it's a horrible danger and get people worried.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (2, Informative)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709239)

Our children are stupid.
They can't do basic math, they can't spell, then have terrible grammar, they can't form complete thoughts, they don't know how to extrapolate new information based on information they already have, they are incapable of doing multi-step problems, and they are proud of it.
There are individual exceptions, but my fiance is a teacher and the despairs over the level of remedial teaching she has to do before she can even START the current years material. It's a joy to her when she can find a student that doesn't have to be beat and prodded to learn. The kids are dumb.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (2, Insightful)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709413)

Isn't that a problem with education and not technology? Distionaries have been around for centuries, is that what is causing the spelling problems?

It seems to me that this is something that teachers have been complaining about for a long time as well. The last generation always seems to have had it better. I wonder how true that really is.

Re:Isn't this true of any technology? (1)

whitneyw (1135381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709453)

To those who say people wouldn't look, they wouldn't be interested, they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach. It can illuminate and, yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends.

Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights -- in a box.

Good night and good luck.


And yes, I did go to google for the wording.

More appropriate question: (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708873)

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.

Re:More appropriate question: (1)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709007)

I'm a Google, you insensitive clod!

Re:More appropriate question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709051)

Netcraft confirms it: You didn't include the Netcraft confirms it meme, but you are forgiven as you included a Beowulf cluster of other memes instead.

Re:More appropriate question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709461)

but does it run lunix?

wrong question (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708889)

correct question:

"are google making us stupids? is our childrens learning?"

On the contrary (0)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708899)

Google, Wikipedia, and the internet in general are making us smarter. We no longer make so many decisions based on a generic gut feeling, we try to get some information first.


The internet is somewhat like an extended library, saying it makes us stupid is like saying books make us stupid.

Re:On the contrary (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708991)

Are you sure about that? With books you read and absorb the information. With the internet it's a lot easier to just fire off a few queries and find some info to back up your generic gut feeling.

Too late (5, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Too late (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709237)

Yes, exactly. The Internet and Google are only showing us what idiots we were before they showed up. Interestingly, there is a bell curve here.

Think about one group that doesn't seem to need the Internet or Google to do their job or live their life? Politicians. Sure they could use them, but they seem to be on the whole, rather ignorant of technology in general. What does that say about them?

Inversely, what does it say about people whose lives are very involved with technology and the internet?

Is it making us stupid, or did some of us just find enough information on the intarwebstube to finally realize something? "holy fsck batman, the world is full of idiots. How did we ever make it through evolution?"

Re:Too late (1)

wakaziva (1000055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709383)

It's not about losing an ability, rather not getting it. Think of all those kids whose bright mind is wasted by watching TV and videos on the Internet all day long ! It's a shame. One can't blame Google for getting us information, but one can blame oneself for not being able to learn anything relevant from one's readings.

The article title should read... (5, Funny)

elguillelmo (1242866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708911)

"Is the Internet making us even more stupid?"

Did Textbooks? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708919)

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 (4, Insightful)

slyborg (524607) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Do calculators make us worse at math? (3, Interesting)

stealie72 (246899) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.... (4, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708927)

> Is Google Making Us Stupid?

I can't answer your question, my internet connection was down all morning.

books are evil (1)

Kr4u53 (955252) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708929)

by this logic, we are killing our mental capacity by using a writing system to store thoughts on a physical medium. wasn't the original point of writing to catalog our history and make us learn more from it?

pah (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708977)

Book? Hell, by this logic, cave painting was a mistake.

Re:pah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709091)

why not go for the stretch and say language was the mistake? being clearly able to communicate our thoughts made us less ingenious in expressing ourselves obviously

Just In Time Information Vs Stupidity (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708945)

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 (4, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708951)

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 (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

It's the other way around (4, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 6 years ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?

Re:Absolutely Not. (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709073)

I would say that the increased MENTAL interaction it provides makes us, in many ways, smarter and more flexible.
INTERTOOB CAT IS IN UR MIND, MAKIN IT FLEXY! LOL! KTHX!

Re:Absolutely Not. (2, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709311)

I'd say the internet is making us more demanding too. When I'm curious about something, I google & read about it. When my parents are curious about something they wonder about it. Not because they're less curious than me, but because for nearly all of their lives good information has been hard to get ahold of outside a library. When I wonder about something, I demand answers & the internet makes them accessible.

Soylent Web (2, Funny)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23708997)

It's.. People!!!

but it's got... (2, Funny)

PopCulture (536272) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709009)

... electrolytes!

I'll find out. (1)

notdotcom.com (1021409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709011)

Hold on, let me check! www.googl... nope.

Oh Noes! It's am the ends! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709013)

No, people generally never had the ability to think deeply. The Internet has merely revealed that to a greater extent than anything before it. The rest of the Carr's screed is horsepucky, and I shall now coherently express my displeasure by pissing upon it.

(pissing sound)

Both yes and no (3, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Both yes and no (2, Interesting)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709289)

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 find it.

I fail to see how looking up the capital of Argentina the "old way" in a paper bound encyclopedia is anymore educational than looking it up on the internet. If all I care about is the capital, then I'll skim a website or a book all the same until I find it, then close the page. If I've got the time and desire to learn more about Argentina, then I'll read some of the text around it. And through the magic of hyperlinks, the internet has much more text "around" it.

I think you can also make a pretty strong argument that the important part of being smarter is less about memorizing random information and more about being able to analyze the information and then make your own decisions based upon it. Being able to pull that information off the top of your head is great, but I think it's a fair trade to have quick access to billions of times of more information if the tradeoff is that I don't remember as much of it.

Re:Both yes and no (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709375)

I fail to see how looking up the capital of Argentina the "old way" in a paper bound encyclopedia is anymore educational than looking it up on the internet.
It's possible that the more difficult a thing is to do, the more significant it will be in your memory. 'At your fingertips' probably doesn't leave the same impression on you that 'dig through the encyclopedia' does. Like you said, though, this likely varies from person to person.

Being able to pull that information off the top of your head is great, but I think it's a fair trade to have quick access to billions of times of more information if the tradeoff is that I don't remember as much of it.
True, very true... right up until the power goes out.

Re:Both yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709369)

Memorization isn't learning. Knowing a fact doesn't mean you know what to do with it. So I wouldn't say it's reducing your desire to learn. It's reducing your desire to waste time on meaningless data.

They sure make Balmner look stupid. (3, Funny)

Filter (6719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709037)

Chasing after everything they do.

Beware the thinking machines! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709041)

Thou shall not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.

This topic is pretty stupid (1)

psamty (749960) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709061)

YA RLY

The list of things that can make us stupid now includes writing, calculators, computers, TV and the internet.

The internet deals with low level computation, leaving you to raise your level of thought. Just like all the computational/storage tools that came before it.

Link to the article please! (1)

feenzee (1283708) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709063)

The provided link is just a review of the article. The premise of the article sounds too absurd to take seriously, but it would have been nice to at least see what the author (Nick Carr) had to say.

Stupid? (1)

Monkey_Genius (669908) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709065)

No. We're already that. Lazy. Nope, got that covered, too.
Google -and the Internet as a whole- are just more things that we have created for which we have not found a meaningful use for, yet.

skim thought (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709099)

I googled this, and it appears to be a spelling mistake - skim through being offered as the likely one. I think I'll wait and see if it is something that google wants to learn about before looking further into it.

Or is Google revealing how stupid we are? (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709101)

It might be better to think of it as Google as a porthole into peoples ignorance.

Not sure... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709107)

Let me google it and find out.

Stupider? I don't think so. (2, Interesting)

roggg (1184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709109)

I dunno... the internet is a source of information (and admittedly often misinformation). How and what you do with that is up to you. I like to think google has made me smarter. It's allowed me to study after the facts things my doctor has said that I may not have fully understood. Instead of buying a book to get a beef stroganof recipe, I now read a half dozen of them online to distill what is the essence of beef stroganof. When my daughter asks me what sound a moose makes, instead of "I don't know", it's now "let's find out!" I use google multiple times daily. No, I'm not stupider for it, and yes I still read books.

library research in WarGames (3, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

When I was a kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709121)

We had an old encyclopedia set in our house. When I came across a new topic, I would generally go look it up. Sometimes there was information, sometimes not, and when it was there, it was frequently incomplete our out of date. Occasionally we'd make trips to the library and I'd have a chance to look a little deeper at certain things.

Now when I come across something, I can quickly go online and lookup information on it. It's generally more complete and more up to date, and it covers a wider array of topics. I really can't imagine life without this instant access to information.

Tools do not make one stupid (5, Insightful)

Quickfingers (926214) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Bitter Old Men (1, Troll)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709137)

I have found that the people that harbor these ideas are often bright in their own right and during their "Hay Day" were looked up to at every job they had. The problem comes in when you take a piece of information that only they knew and give it to everyone with a web browser, than their superior intellect means jack squat! This is the most peaty type of fear mongering a person can spread. "I don't care that you memorized the periodic table in the third grade and can recite any of the elements by heart. I memorized the character string 'www.wikipedia.org' and when I ask that site for information it doesn't give me the same grief that you do!"

Nope (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709147)

Google has nothing to do with that.

Noe! (3, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709153)

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".

What? This is stupid. (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709155)

How is using the internet as a map any different from using a map? How is using the internet as a calculator any different from using a calculator? Last I checked, you still need to know how to read a map. You still need to know how to use a calculator. The only difference between using the internet (and computers in general) for these things is that it's consolidated into one place. The basic premise behind all of these things remains the same, and in that vein, no, there is no inherent difference and no loss of intelligence.

This is a rather stupid concept.

What's a Google? (1)

Rungi (1098221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709165)

Hrm, what?

AL GORE MADE US STUPID (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709169)

Al Gore made us stoopid by inventing the Internet (right after he invented the VCR)

i can name that tune in three keywords. (1)

non (130182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709175)

its memory thats being affected, silly, and its both boon and bane. i no longer have to remember everything, not if i can find it quickly enough - isn't that a common database issue ;-) but now, the past can be rewritten with the push of a button - orwell must be turning in his grave.

goog blogging is good writing practrice (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709191)

I find writing a few moderate length pieces in discussion keeps my writing sharper. Otherwise I would not practice wrting as much.

In a discussion group you have to make your point clear int he first screenful. People arent likely t read further unless you caught their attention. Its a lot like journalism.

NO. period. even comma. and some other marks. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709201)

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.

Riddle me this (1, Troll)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709217)

Who gives a fuck?

These stories are nothing but trolls to catch the reader's eye. They amount to the "Think you are safe in your home? tune in tonight at 10 to find out" stories.

Are we safe? Are you safe? Is your mother smarter than you? Are you dumb because of the clothes you wear? Are your clothes killing you? Is anyone out there? is this thing on? How much for the Ape?

I mean hell, serious discussion and thought drives humanity. But when it's all boiled down to short snippets between ads it sort of loses something.

Moral of the story? Read more books and get off my lawn.

Blah blah, your television is plotting homicide (1)

Borealis (84417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709231)

Next time firehose folks, mod this one down. Seriously, every time I see an article like this it boggles my mind that folks are worrying about this gibberish. Yes, the internet is physically removing neurons from our brains, planting child porn, killing kittens, and screwing your spouse.

Next up your toaster could be making you more prone to nervous breakdowns!

Article Structure (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709243)

Assessment1, in other words, assessment2. The article fails to prove any relation between assessments 1 and 2. This should have never arrived to Slashdot's front page.

What about speed dial? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709251)

In the '80s I used to have memorized of my relatives and friends phone numbers. Now that I have a cell phone, I've programmed in their numbers and I never actually dial the number let along see it. We just hit #1 or their number in the addressbook and it dials. If the callerID doesn't show up, I might not even recognize it. Try it with coworkers friends etc... when you had to dial all 7-11 numbers, you ended up memorizing them...

Begging the question (1)

Woundweavr (37873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709255)

Technology can have negative consequences but for every actual negative consequence that occurs due to a world changing technology (or cultural change), there are many that are predicted and never occur.

The article is conjecture built atop unsupported claims and baseless assumption. The full article isn't online yet but even form the passage cited has multiple examples.

As we use what the sociologist Daniel Bell has called our "intellectual technologies"--the tools that extend our mental rather than our physical capacities--we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.

Really? Based on what exactly? Its a pretty strong statement and one that requires actual backing instead of a statement from authority.

The ability to quick retrieve information is not inherently "dumbing" any more than an automatic transmission makes one a bad driver. But even if that was true, the author makes a huge assumption in the nature of Internet technology. Who says it will remain the way it currently is? The medium still has almost unlimited potential for growth, and the argument is essentially assuming the usage with remain the same or become less intellectual. He assumes we'll become dumb because we won't be able to elevate the medium. We will become dumb because we are dumb.....

Ohhhh NOOOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709269)

It's happening!

I've completely lost my ability to operate the physical card catalog system at the library. Dewey who?
I have lost all memory of the organization for the Christmas Time Sear's Toy Catalog.
I have forgotten the correct duplex split to set my radio to use the local autopatch to connect to the PSTN.
I now lack the patience to spend 2 hours flipping cassettes in and out of my boom box to make a mix tape.

I'm DOOOOOOMED!

Or not.

I would make the counter-point to Nick's argument:

Previous generations of humans were doomed to the ugliness of warfare because their ignorance was a tool easily exploited by the greedy and the power hungry. You could burn the books and cut the phone lines and publish your own paper, and completely control the flow of information to your society.

How would history have been different if the Internet had been there so that a fourteen year old boys in 1935 Germany could have said to his pals with the cool brown shirts: "Hey guys. Did you know that only 26% of the banks in this country are actually owned by Jews? Did you know that most of the economic progress of the new regime comes from eliminating women and Jews from the unemployment figures and counting conscripted soldiers as employed?"

My arguments are: that in making ideas easier to research, more of them reach more of us, but more importantly, the potential for a new but altogether stupid idea to change the world is sharply limited.

what are you talking about? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23709313)

By the time I got to the end of this story - I forgot what it was about? Can you resubmit it to slashdot - this time smaller so I can search for it easily on google?

I googled the question (1)

denalione (133730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709317)

and was told that it is not.

static...! (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709327)

I think there is some truth to this.

My office is my shed/refuge from everything.

I have even arranged it that the two desks are arranged so that if I am studying/reading my back is to the other desk where my computer is just to stop me being distracted by it.

As another useful tidbit of information when I was revising for my last degree I used to listen to a radio detuned to static, this gentle hiss in the ears was amazingly good at cutting out all distraction and somehow I always managed to concentrate more when doing this.

I find it harder and harder to work/study now - not that I cannot find the time, its just that there are too many other distractions when I do so.

Information != Understanding (1)

Natros (985857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709339)

I think having vast amounts of basic information available is a good thing; God knows I use Google to find info on everything. But, I think TFA may be onto something. Great thoughts, new innovations, and significant progress rarely arise in a vacuum. There is a certain amount of information, learning, and thought that provide a foundation for further development. A person needs to not only "know," but understand the things that have gone before; to marinade stew in ideas and information. I think there is a danger in becoming so dependent on Google (or Wikipedia, or calculators) to do the difficult work of understanding for us that we'll have difficulty moving beyond our current corpus of knowledge. If the ability to pull up vast amounts in information becomes the goal of education, rather than learning and understanding the underlying concepts, then I fear we do risk becoming "more stupid" as a society. The point, though, is not to demonize the tool. Instead, we need to make our educational process oriented more around teaching students how to learn and make connections between facts, not simply regurgitate data they found on wikipedia. Really, shouldn't this have been the goal before the internet, too?

YOU were already stupid in the first place (2, Insightful)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#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!!!! (4, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Score one for Asimov (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709471)

Find a copy of his short story "Someday". I remember reading it as a child and thinking that there was no way something like that could happen.

It's possible our tools won't need to have a revolution to rule us after all. Maybe we'll just give in quietly, becoming much less than we could and should be.

You would be stupid not to use Google (1)

jacexpo069 (521719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709475)

As witnessed here by many, if someone asks a question and if a google search reports that the answer is in the first 10 results posted by Google, the questioner is labeled as STUPID if you do NOT use Google.

Yes, and no... (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23709477)

I think the answer to the question, "Is Google making us stupid?" is yes, and no.

I find that, as a moderately intelligent person, Google, and the internet in general, greatly facilitates and speeds my ability to research information, and organize my thoughts, on subjects which interest me. So, yes, for the thinking person, Google can make you "smarter".

For the non-thinking person, Google, and the rest of the internet, allows them to quickly ascend new heights of stupidity. This really can't be helped, but the problem is no different now than it has been in the past with any other emerging information technology.

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