Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Does the Internet Make Humanity Smarter Or Dumber?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the it-sure-does dept.

Education 282

Nemilar writes "The Wall Street Journal is running a pair of articles asking whether the Internet is making humanity smarter or dumber. The argument for smarter is that the Internet is simply a change in the rules of publishing, and that the bad material is thrown away; the second story critiques the 'information overload' aspect of the Internet, claiming that we have traded depth of knowledge for velocity and span. What do you think? Does the Internet make you stupid?"

cancel ×

282 comments

Of course it can... (4, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469464)

Of course it can easily make you dumber, just like TV can make you dumber. The similitude has become to apply after 1995 when big players (telcos, etc.) became Internet providers and when companies and marketing agencies have become to realize to potential of Internet as a marketing tool and viewed it as just like another tool similar to TV.

Don't get me wrong, it is still possible to use the Internet to get smarter or at least more informed but given what I observe, it for the typical Joe user that uses it in a way comparable to a modern T.V. where you can play games running on the cable company hardware, it makes him dumber.

You could be surprised by how many people are proud to announce breaking news to me because they received an chain-email containing a ridiculous story that takes me about 30 seconds to debunk. The most worrying part is that they actually deeply believed it before sharing it with me.

Some people believe anything they watch on TV and read in newspaper. Nowadays, a lot of people believe anything they see on the Internet just like if they had seen it on TV.

Well to their defense, this is the way it was marketed and sold to them by the big players, just like an extension to TV with very low emphasis on educating people about the technology, security, etc.

 

Re:Of course it can... (4, Insightful)

w00tsauce (1482311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469608)

Arguing on slashdot makes you ________.

Re:Of course it can... (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469644)

Arguing on slashdot makes you ________.

Um, taller?

Re:Of course it can... (0, Redundant)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469690)

Taller? I think not, fatso.

Re:Of course it can... (3, Funny)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469846)

Arguing on slashdot makes you ________.

A Freemason.

Re:Of course it can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469868)

Arguing on slashdot makes you ________.

retardeder?

ICE CREAM!!! (-1, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469932)

Does the Internet Make Humanity Smarter Or Dumber?

Yes. Next question?

Q: What's better than winning the Special Olympics?
A: Not being retarded.
Q: What's better than winning the Special Olympics twice?
A: ICE CREAM!

Re:Of course it can... (4, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469614)

The TV makes people (especially kids) dumb, because it is an impoverishment of the senses: Without touching, smelling and hearing (signal is not timed correctly) the brain development is stunted. The brain always learns, but we offer it shit. Ask a neuroscientist like Manfred Spitzer [google.com] .
The Internet (as a media) is great at distributing information, and helps freedom of speech, protection against regimes&suppression.
But don't overlook that information is not produced on the Internet. Anyone who want to contribute something new, will perform a lot of "offline" thought and work first. Progress doesn't come from the thousand monkeys on a typewriter.
Don't just take them away, replace them with some better use of your time.

NB: The message above might reflect my opinion right now, but not necessarily tomorrow or next year.

Re:Of course it can... (4, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469808)

> The TV makes people (especially kids) dumb

I am sure TV can be used in a limited manner (say 30 mins a day) to teach kids something. Unfortunately, you may have to search a bit or design your own programs since mainstream programming might not fit the bill most of the time.

As you mentioned, it is easier to use the Internet in a "filtered way" where you actually use it to enhance yourself. My point was that the typical Joe user isn't aware of this or that he is not interested is doing this, just like some TV users like to watch realty shows and sitcoms.

Some other posters have mentioned that the Internet is just making dumb people dumber and smart people smarter. In the end, it is the same for TV ;-)

Re:Of course it can... (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469626)

Any medium of communication will appear dumber in the process of shedding what is essentially its elitism. But better means of communication is what has provided us with advances of civilisation.

"Wise elders" were whining at emancipation, combating illiteracy, "mass produced" books, telephone or radio, too.

Re:Of course it can... (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469646)

Those people announcing breaking news due to chain email would have been the same ones telling you aliens landed in the next county because their cousin knows a guy who knows a guy.....

They have always been here, and the internet has no effect on them. It didn't create them. But it quickly helps you prove them wrong.

More importantly, the net helps us access knowledge quickly, meaning we don't have to know tons of unrelated facts, all we have to know is where to find those facts.

That used to require trips to the libraries. Now its the Net.

The net teaches us to be very good at discerning bullshit from true facts, which is a valuable thing.

Re:Of course it can... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469970)

The net teaches us to be very good at discerning bullshit from true facts...

Only some of us. Most of the major media outlets recycle and regurgitate the same drivel from the same non-authoritatative shock-jocks, with the only discernment being based on the political viewpoint of the editor of the moment.

The net does nothing to teach us critical skills. All it does is provide more opportunities to use them. Whether or not we do so is another matter.

Re:Of course it can... (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32470032)

They have always been here, and the internet has no effect on them.

I call bullshit. Having the ability to get a message out to millions of people before it can be debunked is a giant effect on what they're saying.

Re:Of course it can... (4, Insightful)

sqldr (838964) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469752)

I'm currently procrastinating by reading slashdot when I should be working. Then again, I went online to look up SIMD instructions in visual studio, and I now have the information I need. Swings and roundabouts.

Re:Advantages of 56K? (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469760)

I remember very well that when I was connected at 56K, I used to waste my limited online time downloading programming related documentation for offline usage. Of course I was a kid looking for programming experience just for fun.
Now at cable and DSL speeds, I feel high-bandwidth contents (audio, video) are more in the role of wasting people's online time. I cannot however draw any conclusion since 56K and DSL are to very distinct times of my life.

What do you /.ers think? Is high-bandwidth internet promoting less education? Or is it totally uncorrelated?

Re:Advantages of 56K? (1)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469858)

I think the effect of increased bandwidth is to shift more entertainment onto the network. However, I think it's mostly the same kind of entertainment that comes from radio, tv, and movies. There are now cool multiplayer games, but I don't think I'd qualify those games as "promoting less education". There were other kinds of electronic games before there were online multiplayer games, so there were other outlets for gamers before broadband.

On the positive side, the increased bandwidth has enabled people to reach more reference materials more quickly online. If you go online to find information rather than games, then you are learning rather than playing. But that falls apart if you get distracted and go to YouTube to watch videos of singing kittens and Mentos fountains.

Yeah, maybe a lot of people fall into the last group.

Re:Of course it can... (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469836)

The similitude has become to apply after 1995 when big players (telcos, etc.) became Internet providers and when companies and marketing agencies have become to realize to potential of Internet as a marketing tool and viewed it as just like another tool similar to TV.

Actually, I do think the Internet makes some people dumber: they can write such grammatically atrocious sentences as yours, and be totally inarticulate, and still get a pass, while those who point this out (like me) get flamed for doing so. Therefore, dumbness is rewarded.

Re:Of course it can... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469976)

Actually, I do think the Internet makes some people dumber: they can write such grammatically atrocious sentences as yours, and be totally inarticulate, and still get a pass,

This is because he actually provided thoughts and insights on the topic at hand and sharing them successfully with other human beings.

This 'dumb' thing as you call it is what most humans live for.

while those who point this out (like me) get flamed for doing so.

You provide nothing useful (and before you say it, neither am I right now) and somehow think that is 'smart'?

Very little was lost in translation when the GP did not follow your language rules, and a perfectly wrong lie can be grammatically correct with proper spelling just the same.

Therefore, dumbness is rewarded.

Yet you point out how someone (GP) is actually being productive and useful, so show how smart is rewarded, as well as demonstrate how usefulness spam that is grammar correction only serves to harm everyone involved which is NOT modded up

Your dumbness got no reward, and the smarter person making a point was rewarded with mods.

That makes you wrong on two fronts!

Re:Of course it can... (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469850)

I would disagree and say that *on average* it has made people smarter. Instead of having to go to the public library, it is faster to find information, do research and get answers. More importantly, it allows people to get multiple answers quickly to compare.

As to those that it is making dumber: If not for the internet, they would have been watching TV anyway. Some people can't wait to graduate high school, because then they can "quit learning", and they succeed in every way. Before TV, there were plenty of other opportunities to "do nothing", or at least, nothing worthwhile. Those people wouldn't learn new things even if they lived inside the Library of Congress.

As for regular people, or those with a thirst for knowledge, it has accelerated their ability to find answers and make it more entertaining and less of a drudgery (ie: faster to search in a browser than a card catalog, AND find the books, AND the right page...) I can't tell you how many times that I have looked something up, then found an interesting link, and ended up learning about some tangent idea as well. Yes, I did the same pre-internet, but net has allowed me to do this regularly, as in depth as I care for, and from many sources. At 45, I watch much less TV than 20 years ago, and spend a great deal of time learning, simply because it is fun and easy to do. I can't be alone in this.

Re:Of course it can... (2, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469910)

Wait. Can TV actually make you dumber? I can accept without hard evidence that TV can displace beneficial avenues for learning, thus making you more ignorant (among other things), but actually dumber? Does it have some kind of profound effect on our synapses of which I'm not aware?

I mean, maybe it's true. Maybe watching television makes you less intelligent, but I was hoping someone could source a study on the issue.

Re:Of course it can... (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469964)

Of course it can easily make you dumber, just like TV can make you dumber. The similitude has become to...

tl;dr.

Both (2, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469998)

Some people will use the net to become more informed. Others will use it to zone out and learn less than they might have otherwise. For most people, the internet will both increase learning in some areas and increase intellectual laziness in others.

False dichotomies. (5, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469476)

> What do you think?

I think false dichotomies make good headlines.

Re:False dichotomies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469504)

You're stupid

Re:False dichotomies. (0, Flamebait)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469606)

And you're a coward.

Re:False dichotomies. (0, Offtopic)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469586)

Yes.

Re:False dichotomies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469672)

I once read an article about this very topic. It was extremely interesting, but I cannot remember where I read it or who wrote it. Hum, Let me google it.
..
..

Mmm, I cannot find it, it was a nice article though.
..
..

Wait a second, what was i talking about? Ah yes! I like Lolcats!

Re:False dichotomies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469986)

It's not a matter of being so black and white, it's a matter of leaving out the third option: Doesn't change mankind's intelligence. It's like a painter uses the entire pallet except for the color red.

Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (4, Insightful)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469494)

Check out dis funny picture of cat. [icanhascheezburger.com]

Actually I think it reveals our stupidity.

But the real issue here is that the article doesn't really address "Does the Internet Make Humanity Smarter Or Dumber?". Instead it should be entitled: "Does distraction, largely in part to the internet, make some individuals process information differently?". Sure distractions are always "bad":

When we're constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be online, our brains are unable to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give depth and distinctiveness to our thinking. We become mere signal-processing units, quickly shepherding disjointed bits of information into and then out of short-term memory.

But does a fragmented short term memory have permanent effects? He talks in the article about

In another experiment, recently conducted at Stanford University's Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, a team of researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia.

To me, what led those people to do media multitasking in the first place? Perhaps the media did not engineer some level of "multitaskness" (not a word, I know) but that this multi-tasking ability was inherent to those individuals' respective personalities. This brings be back to my first point that the internet reveals our stupidity AND perhaps just our personality in general.

Re:Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469624)

After watching the coverage of the Israel/Gaza situation and the Terror Flotilla this weekend... it definitely makes people dumber.

There is no sense of scale and no memory of past events any more. In January 2009, the UN security council passed a resolution calling for ALL nations to step up efforts to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into Gaza. The sum total of responsibility for this, sadly, was passed on to Egypt and Israel, who dutifully stepped up their blockades and inspections (Egypt actually closed Rafah ENTIRELY, which made Israel the de-facto only option for transferring aid in).

Likewise, millions of nincompoops with no clue about actual international law hear a bunch of people screaming about how the interdiction took place in so-called "international waters", notwithstanding every precedent (from the Council of Paris through the Geneva Conventions and onwards) explicitly saying that a blockade-running ship may be apprehended outside territorial waters, ESPECIALLY if they are publicly announcing their intent to run the blockade.

It seems that the collective memory of the world lasts only a few days, and then past events are forgotten, while the lies of violent terrorist front groups like the IHH are accepted as "facts" by so-called "journalists" who do absolutely zero research and are nothing but doorstop-IQ losers who parrot whatever they are told.

Re:Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469706)

So it's the flavor of the bullshit you buy that makes you intelligent. Ok, got it.

Re:Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469824)

It seems the past was forgotten by the people of Israel as well. They are on their way to repeating the discrimination and hate that was done to the Jewish population of Europe.

Today in Israel there is the non-Arab Israeli and then there is the Arab Israeli. One group has more rights in the state than another. In a healthy state, there would be an Israeli citizen, Arab or Jew or Christian, or whatever. All would have the same privileges, eg. ability to get building permits. But in the real Israel, all I see on the news is Arab Israeli homes being demolished because of "illegal housing" (that was built in 1960s, for example, but authorities just found out 50 years later????). New housing permits continually are denied to the Arab Israeli, while non-Arab Israeli are able to secure housing permits. This is especially true of Jerusalem. I am not even talking about occupied land here.

I see hate and terror of of "Israeli settler" illegally occupying land, *backed* by Israeli Army. I see counter-hate of Arab extremists, but these don't have the army on their side.

So please, do at least a normal analysis of the situation before you judge. Israel is not 100% victim here. Extremists in Israel are allowed to continue their discrimination, and this causes extremists to be formed in the groups being discriminated against. In plain words, they are creating the shitstorm that surrounds them and then they are crying about it.

Re:Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469958)

it definitely makes people dumber ... There is no sense of scale and no memory of past events any more ... It seems that the collective memory of the world lasts only a few days, and then past events are forgotten

Careful here. How sure are you that things were better before the internet? What evidence do we have that these dumb people didn't exist before the internet, let alone that the internet caused their existence?

Re:Intelligence is tweaked not obtained. (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469642)

To me, what led those people to do media multitasking in the first place?

They did. They chose to do it. Information technology gave them a choice -- a freedom -- and they did not use it responsibly and through no one's fault but their own. You can give people powerful tools but it's ultimately up to them to use them responsibly. Right now here is what I'm hearing, "I'm stupid and distracted ... it must be that latest technology's fault like TV and gaming and now the internet. I'm the victim and don't have to take responsibility for my actions." If I give you a nail gun and wood and tell you to build a house but instead you discover that shooting at cans with the nail gun and burning the wood in a bonfire is more entertaining than shelter ... who's fault is that?

Something as empowering as the internet should not be faulted for this.

Like a magnifying glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469496)

It intensifies both ends of the human spectrum. Next!

Double Edged Sword (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469498)

Does the Internet Make Humanity Smarter Or Dumber?

I tire of constantly pushing the idea that the internet is a double edged sword. It liberates you to pursue your desires whether they be learning, information, socializing, games or porn. In this liberating spirit, I claim it is possibly the greatest revolution yet in regards to information.

Now it's just your choice to use it as you desire. And anyone who says they will only ever use it for something like learning is flat out liar and, frankly, missing the point of the internet. I waste time on the internet and I am productive on the internet. Use the full spectrum of the internet and you'll get the most out of it as what it is: a tool. The choice is yours ... time management for people has been an issue going all the way back through human history. Why must we stop now and act like 100% of our time must be spent on the internet playing Farmville?

It enhances (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469506)

The internet just enhances what is already there. Stupid people become more stupid and intelligent people become more intelligent.

Re:It enhances (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469848)

Problem is there's a hell of a lot more stupid people than intelligent people, so by that logic the Internet is generally making humanity more stupid overall.

Technology, neither... (2, Insightful)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469512)

No technology is good or bad. Neither does it make you smart or dumber.

I don't watch a lot of television, but when I do, I watch Discovery, The History Channel, or Animal Planet. I tend to learn something new every time I watch.

Now, if all you watch is reality TV and sitcoms, you're less likely to learn anything. Once again, it comes down to personal responsibility.

Re:Technology, neither... (0, Flamebait)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469554)

No, it's quite evil, it makes it harder for God fearing Americans to pretend that the world is only 5,000 years old, that Jesus was aryan and that tax cuts to the rich have benefits to the poor.

Re:Technology, neither... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469838)

No it dosnt - It was intelligent design at work. God made the average American dumb! in the first place.

Re:Technology, neither... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469974)

Incorrect. I've been told many times that the answer to your problems is "google away". And google will find any retard's site, including that Jesus was an Aryan, tax cuts for the rich benefit the poor and that there is conclusive proof that Earth cannot be more than 5000 years old. You will also find such gems as why global warming is actually global cooling, how global warming is being used to tax the poor, the conspiracy about water carburetor, etc. etc. etc.

As someone already wrote, Internet exasperates the gap between the knowledgeable and the ignorant. The intelligent and knowledgeable person will easily benefit from extra information. The ignorant will simply become more retarded, finding more "proof" about their ignorant ideas.

CAPTCHA: astute

Re:Technology, neither... (2, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469594)

Exactly. It's just a tool. nothing more, nothing less.

(I would imagine sociologists love reality television, it's like putting a camera in a meerkats den)

I think.. (2, Insightful)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469514)

The idea of the internet making you stupid is the stupidest idea ever. I now have the worlds information at my finger tips, I get updates in near real time. For instance new cures and new science that is published, I now read within hours, instead of months or years later in some book. Granted, if you're a stupid person the internet can be used for stupid things just like anything. Couch potatoes glued to the boob-tube in the old days are equivalent to today's myspace and facebook junkies. But still the internet has a huge potential to educate motivated individuals, in ways that were not easy or possible before.

Re:I think.. (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469562)

Yes, but if you can look things up, then why bother to think about it? A large part of why some people are smarter than others is that they think about things, the ability to look up things without critical thinking is definitely not going to make a person smarter. It can in fact have the opposite effect in that since there's no filtering going on, a person can start to believe all sorts of stupid things.

Re:I think.. (3, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469612)

I think more critically now than I ever did before the Internet.

In fact, I'd posit that critical thinking is more important now than ever before. If you are incapable of it, the Internet is a constant stream of kidney-stealing Nigerian princes who will give you $1000 if you forward this email.

I don't have kids, but if I did I'd teach them first to question everything they're told. By anybody. Including me. And they should start with trying to think up a reason they shouldn't.

Re:I think.. (4, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469742)

I think more critically now than I ever did before the Internet.

http://xkcd.com/552/ [xkcd.com]

Re:I think.. (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469648)

Presumably people are spending some time thinking about what they look up, and following hyperlinks to read more about the subject.

Due to the inconvenience, without the Internet, they might not have looked up any information in the first place, and gone with a hunch, or whatever they vaguely remember.

So the internet allowed them to learn a bit about a subject they wouldn't have even bothered to look for information on, otherwise

Re:I think.. (2, Informative)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469670)

How am I going to think about a vaccine to cure breast cancer, or nanorobotics, without looking it up? I mean I might get some vague idea about such things, but the specific details I could never imagine. I just don't buy that a significant number of people look up things without thinking about them, it makes more sense that they look up things because they want to think deeper about a particular thing. I can't force you to believe me, which is what you seem to want, but I'm sure I'm right for the typical person that researches on the internet.

Not sure (1)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469518)

Could repeat the question please?

Neither (5, Insightful)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469528)

It changes the way a person thinks.

Instead of worrying about retention of specific knowledge, I find myself caring more about how to find information again if I should need it. I've been treating the Internet like an extended memory bank. It certainly adds to my humility and (by extension) my critical thinking skills that it takes only a few seconds with Google to demonstrate the inferiority of my personal knowledge and experience on any issue. Questioning your convictions on any topic often leads to a new way of looking at things.

Dedicating a moment's thought to it, I don't believe the Internet can make a person dumber, but it can contribute to intellectual laziness - being convinced that the answer is out there if you care enough to look for it could conceivably make you less likely to try to figure something out for yourself.

SMRT! (2, Insightful)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469542)

Being more informed and more aware doesn't really make us smarter or dumber, just more opionated.

Re:SMRT! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469984)

Being more informed and more aware doesn't really make us smarter or dumber, just more opionated...

... and more informed, of course.

It depends (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469550)

When the Internet enables a group of people I agree with, it is making humanity smarter.

When the Internet enables a group of people I disagree with, it is making humanity dumber.

It makes kids do stupid things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469552)

In the old (pre-internet) days, kids had a very limited number of "bad kids" living near them, and they were clearly pointed out as "bad".

But nowadays, kids are exposed to millions of bad kids (and adults), and they're all promoting their badness as being "good". On the internet.

Anonymous Coward (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469580)

Mark Twain once said of newspapers: "If you don't read a newspaper you are uninformed. If you DO read a newspaper, you are misinformed." The internet works the same way.

ROTFLMAO! (2, Funny)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469588)

Wuz? R U 4 Real?

Re:ROTFLMAO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469616)

WHUT....IZ... U... Mean?

Re:ROTFLMAO! (2, Insightful)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469720)

Apparently the person who modded this redundant proves that the internet has in fact made us dumber, since he obviously doesn't understand the meaning of redundant.

Re:ROTFLMAO! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32470002)

Apparently, the entire internet makes you redundant. ;-)

(Come on internet! You know I love you!)

Smarter - We're All Grads of the U of Tube (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469590)

Will get back to you on that question in a sec - first I have to watch these babies impersonating Lady Gaga [gawker.com] .

It's irrelevant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469610)

As long as humanity lives in slavery to international banks, corporate interests, and the military industrial complex, arguments like this don't matter.

The Internet makes some people smarter, and some people stupider. The point is that it is used as a wag to monitor, control, and occupy ALL of it's users.

Now excuse me while I post personal information on Facebook and waste hours that could be productive watching YouTube and Hulu.

Don't know if it makes you dumber or smarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469630)

But the internet definitely has had a dramatic effect on latency..

more capable - if you know how to use it (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469652)

but dumber if all you do is "play" facebook all day.

Intelligent use of the internet, like intelligent use of a library or research facility lets you do more good stuff quicker. It probably also lets you extend your capabilities (though sometimes people extend too far and become burdens rather than assets).

However, if you're not inclined to use your mental faculties and just want to goof around all the time, the internet lets you waste time like never before. Of course there are poeple at work (you probably know some) for whom the best contribution they can possibly make is to just sit in the corner and keep out of the way.

On the whole I reckon that like radioactivity, it's a force for good. Although it has the potential to enable a lot of bad stuff if people wish to use it for that.

It's like TV (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469654)

It goes both ways. With TV, you have the option of using it to educate yourself (PBS, news channels, Discovery, History, etc) or to turn your brain off (soap dramas, American Idol, sitcoms, etc). The only difference with the Internet is that it's (generally) quicker to access and is much more on-demand. If I wanted to learn about my hometown during World War II or something, I could use a search engine and find it. On the other hand, if I wanted to see dancing cats, I could find it on YouTube.

Actually, I'd argue that the Internet has the potential to make one smarter because developing content for the Internet has a barrier to entry that's much lower than developing content for nationwide television and/or radio.

Does the Internet Make Humanity Smarter Or Dumber? (1)

PacRim Jim (812876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469662)

Possibly.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469676)

I is no stupid durrrrr

Smarter (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469678)

I have a bad memory. It seems to have pointers to memories but sometimes can't retrieve the memories.

With the internet, I can use the pointer to find what I was trying to recall.

It makes us esmarter! (1)

topcoder (1662257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469680)

It makes us esmarter!

Smarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469682)

Why do you even have to ask? Of course the Internet makes us smarter. With the Internet comes unprecedented access to infor... OMG Lolcats!

I don't think so. (3, Insightful)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469708)

In my eminently ignorable view, this is a false dichotomy. The possible options are, (1) smart people are less smart than they would otherwise be, (2) smart people are smarter than they would otherwise be, (3) dumb people are dumberer than they would otherwise be, (4) dumb people are smarter than they would otherwise be, (5) dumb people are neither smarter nor dumber and smart people are neither smarter or dumber, than they would otherwise be.

Now, it seems to me that people who didn't read before, when given access to intertubes, may gain knowledge they would never have gained previously (I know many people like this), hence they are less dumberer than they were before. It is also true that smart people can become even smarter with access to the internet because they are given access to a much wider and more diverse body of knowledge within which to embed and test their expertise (post-modernly known as Contextualising). Knowledge comes in bundles, but cleverality involves forming associations between bundles. The more bundles you know about, the greater the number of possible associations and transferable metaphors/techniques are available to you to solve any particular problem. The internet does not stop you gaining expertise in any one bundle, it just allows you to gain a greater understanding of the fields surrounding your particular chosen bundle.

Re:I don't think so. (1)

evilgraham (1020325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469940)

I liked the words "dumberer" and "cleverality", and will perhaps use them in conversation in future. Does that mean that I have learned more about the modern world as expressed through the interweb, and have thus increased the proportion of dumberer to cleverality?

The Internet resurrects the renaissance man. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469718)

Anyone can be a journeyman in anything by just looking up the proper info. I remember the time pre-internet and pre-cell phone, and while I remembered more things back then, I didn't have the daily "putting new thoughts together" experiences that I have now. Something that would have taken me a day to answer (or calling a librarian and having her spend an hour), now takes me a couple minutes at most.

tl:dr (2, Insightful)

mr.dreadful (758768) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469732)

Maybe that would explain the growing use of "tl:dr", which is short for "too long, didn't read", which I'm seeing more and more on articles. The sad thing is that most of the time the people that add the line haven't written anything especially complicated or long.People are either getting stupider or lazier.

tl:dr; author thinks the use of tl:dr is a symptom of people getting dumber.

Huh? (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469762)

Compared to what?

Smarter or dumber?

Wow, a black or white choice....

I could have sworn we have a spectrum of living color.

But I must be wrong, as they said so. But does that make me smarter or dumber to know this?

define: internet (1)

hyperion2010 (1587241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469788)

Is it just me or have people still not properly defined what they mean by the internet?

Re:define: internet (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469898)

I hear it's a series of tubes but there are dreams of a giant truck.

Re:define: internet (1)

evilgraham (1020325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469950)

Most of the people to whom I have introduced it mean the Firefox icon wherever it appears.

Uh (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469790)

Did the printing press make us dumber?

The Internet and associated technologies like the WWW are an intelligence enhancer on a larger scale than that.

Smarter or Dumber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469794)

Articles like this, which are cheap attention grabbing garbage, make me dumber.

I'm not sure (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469806)

I'll let you know after I Google it and check Wikipedia, and get some feedback on Facebook. Oh, that reminds me I need to take care of my farm, and check all my friends in case they are doing anything, which reminds me of a funny bumper sticker someone told me about, which was actually on a suitcase, not a bumper, which was kinda funny 'cuz it was on a motor scooter! Anyway, yesterday I had a lot of fun, even tho I didn't do much - lol - and my cat was just sitting there even though the milk was all kinda messy. So hey whatsup?

Not a cause but a catalyst/amplifier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469810)

The internet doesn't make you dumber or smarter. It just exposes the stupidity that has been present in the human race since the dawn of time and exacerbates the effects of said stupidity. Pre-internet stupid was largely passivve or at least created localized impacts and the stupid spread at a slow rate of speed. Now the waves of stupidity ripple across the world with astounding speed. The good thing is the intelligence does the same thing. It's not smarter or stupider it's just that the impacts are exposed, larger and faster. Like most things it's just different and we don't like change (especially the older among us) so we write articles about how it might be making us stupid since we can't or haven't bothered to understand or adapt.

People can be miners or ore (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469834)

You can choose to use the Internet to be smarter - search a lot, explore widely and deeply, and let it coordinate your everyday life to unburden that cognitive load...

or...

you can become a single neuron in the group-think texting twitter-mind, and spend the rest of your time touching up your facebook image and ogling celebrity gossip sites and cat/fail videos.

Be the miner or the mined when it comes to new knowledge. It's up to you.

It emphasises our weaknesses (3, Interesting)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469880)

As more people group together, humans make dumber choices more based on emotion then anything else. Thus I think social networking sites are a terrible thing for humanity.

I think it *can* be a good thing. The Encyclopedia of Life seems to be shaping up well. Wikipedia I think has been neutral. But more often to not people use things like Facebook which is nothing but a waste of time.

No, but... (5, Insightful)

evilgraham (1020325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469892)

It certainly draws your attention as to just how many dumb people there are!

Your choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469900)

The internet makes people smarter who want to use it well and dumber for those who just use it as entertainment. Out here in a rural area we don't have libraries and other resources that are available in urban areas. Thankfully we also don't have the urban area problems. The internet gives us resources. How you use them is your choice.

The answer is Slashdot (1)

Sleen (73855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469904)

I thought the answer was slashdot? Bad content can be filtered, and there is an overwhelming amount of garbage. Its the garbage you want, with a filter. Its slashdot, the better internet.

Choice (1)

hh4m (1549861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469906)

The internet gives people choice. Choice is a good thing.

Intellectual isolation (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469912)

What the Internet has done is that almost no matter how obscure your preferences are, it's a group on the Internet for it. According to the latest stats there's 1.8 billion people online. Even if one in a million think like you, there's 1800 of them on the Internet. There's language barriers and some other details too, but still. Of course it's natural that like minded people meet, but on the Internet it's so extreme you run into groupthink - Exhibit A [slashdot.org] .

Take for example the coming wave of elderly in the western world. Here on slashdot we have mostly technological/geeky solutions. Doctors for the most part have medical solutions. Economists has some monetary solutions. Each group can think because they all just read their own sites that they've understood what "everybody" thinks and what "consensus" is on how to solve it, in short that they're smart when really their solutions are shallow, unfeasible and incomplete because they haven't been challenged enough. You see it with some computer systems, all the geeks agree it's great but unless you get user testing from somewhere else it very often flops.

I don't think we've really gotten dumber on the fundamentals even though we search the Internet rather than know by heart, there's much less meaning in memorization and hand calculation but then I never felt that to be a valuable skill in itself - it's a bit like measuring your writings by your fountain pen technique. The real value is what you understand, your ability to draw reasonable conclusions. Knowledge is important because you need to know the facts and the context to draw those conclusions from. It takes different skills because so much on the Internet is bullshit, if ypo put someone who is used to only serious and reliable sources and put online they could end up being dumber. But the younger generation who knows the pitfalls, they can go much further.

I simply think the answer is that we're getting more specialized, which is neither smarter or dumber - just different.

Here's the truth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469914)

Nothing about the internet makes humanity smarter or dumber in itself. Nothing. The only thing it does is...make it more obvious.

The true character is the same.

Stupid and pointless articles (3, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469922)

First of all, nothing really makes you smarter or dumber. While your capability to learn may change over time, in general a specific type of media will not impact this ability, unless we're talking about parking young children in front of a TV and ignoring them, which is another issue.

The internet, like TV, books and magazines, radio, etc does not affect your intelligence. What you get out if it is based on how you decide to use it. Spending hours on Facebook playing farmville is a huge waste of time, just like watching American idol, etc.

Using the internet for other things such as looking up how to do something or a particular fact can increase your knowledge, as can watching a show about history or science on TV.

Personally I think the WSJ has gone significantly down hill since News Corp bought it...

Some problems (4, Interesting)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469934)

The first article doesn't address the notion that these changes in thought patterns could lead to greater intellectual abilities down the road. The author says:

Only when we pay deep attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it "meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory"

but maybe that's subject to change over time, as more and more humans don't pay deep attention. Or maybe we will adapt to be able to more easily pay attention deeply to the most important details.

Additionally, even if that doesn't happen (soon, or ever), maybe humanity as a whole is better served this way. Maybe we don't need everyone to be a deep thinker. Maybe we can benefit from a large segment of people who can think quickly, but not as deeply.

In other words ... Idiocracy is funny, but unlikely. We will adapt and move forward over time, as we always -- given sufficient time -- have.

*gasp* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469954)

Does creating a false choice in an inflammatory article create click-throughs and ad views? More at 11...

No, but (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469968)

Subsidizing the fecundity of the stupid does.

The web is all about leverage. (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469982)

The web has made a tremendous difference in what I can accomplish. I'm old enough to remember the days when I anxiously awaited new issues of electronics magazines because they presented a steady stream of projects that introduced me to new components and ways of doing things. These days, I often turn to forums, manufacturer's websites and other people's project pages for new ideas, advice and assistance. Over the course of the past 15 years, I've become adept at leveraging a vast pool of knowledge to dramatically improve the stuff I create.

The flip-side is that the 'net can be a huge timewaster if all you do is surf gossip sites, post on twitterface or play games. However, my suspicion is that the people who use the web to kill time would have found other ways to fritter time away in the pre-wired days (and, to be honest, what seems like wasted time to one person could be life-changing to another).

Ask the Oracle (2, Funny)

dgriff (1263092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469988)

I asked the Yes No Oracle [facade.com] the question "does the internet make you stupid?" and the answer was yes.

Re:Ask the Oracle (2, Funny)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32470040)

I call shenanigans. I copied and pasted your question and it told me 'no'.

access to information (1)

trb (8509) | more than 4 years ago | (#32470016)

consider the curious child. before the internet, information came from parents, teachers, library, or the local media. the internet gives access to information on any topic, and also access to people who are interested in any topic. with machine translation, book scanning, special interest forums, and freely available university lectures, it is hard for me to imagine how someone could claim that the internet does not make humanity smarter. the indifferent person will still be ignorant, but the curious person has easy access to a wealth of information that was very difficult to find before the internet.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...