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A Battle of Wits On the Net's Effect On the Mind

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the post-traumatic-second-post-syndrome dept.

The Internet 218

An anonymous reader writes "There's a fascinating duel going on between two Harvard-associated authors, Steven Pinker and Nicholas Carr, on the topic of the Net's influence on the mind. In a New York Times op-ed, Pinker criticizes Carr's argument, as laid out in his new book The Shallows, that our use of the Net is encouraging us to become distracted, superficial thinkers. The Net and other digital technologies 'are the only things that will keep us smart,' writes Pinker. In a response on his blog, Carr tears apart Pinker's argument, claiming that Pinker's examples should actually make us even more worried about the possible 'ill effects' the Net is having on our minds. Carr concludes, 'We're training ourselves, through repetition, to be facile skimmers, scanners, and message-processors — important skills, to be sure — but, perpetually distracted and interrupted, we're not training ourselves in the quieter, more attentive modes of thought: contemplation, reflection, introspection, deep reading, and so forth.' Behind the debate is the deeper controversy over whether the human brain is fundamentally adaptable ('neuroplasticity') or genetically locked into patterns of behavior ('evolutionary psychology')."

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tl;dr (4, Funny)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557586)

Next topic, please.

we were scooped on this one (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557614)

Slashdot's role is to provide a mostly uninformed but passionate argument between a few straw-man positions based on little evidence, but Pinker & Carr beat us to it.

Re:we were scooped on this one (4, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557750)

For a bunch more positions, see "How is the Internet changing the way you think?" [edge.org] (edge.org's 2010 Annual Question - Pinker and Carr are both among the 172 essayists who responded).

Re:we were scooped on this one (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557790)

Slashdot's role is to provide a mostly uninformed but passionate argument between a few straw-man positions based on little evidence, but Pinker & Carr beat us to it.

Which is exactly why we have NASA engineers and some of IT's top minds making posts and comment submissions, amongst many others. I'd say slashdot's average post quality is a lot more informed than, say, 4Chan.

Re:we were scooped on this one (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557872)

Case in point:

Which is exactly why we have NASA engineers and some of IT's top minds making posts and comment submissions, amongst many others. I'd say slashdot's average post quality is a lot more informed than, say, 4Chan.

I kid!

But seriously...

Re:we were scooped on this one (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558054)

Comparing 4Chan and Slashdot caused a reset in server 211. Now restoring from backups. Message #213323.

Re:we were scooped on this one (2, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558328)

Signal to noise is very low here. There are other places with equally informed people and far fewer dummies (though most are well-meaning).

Re:we were scooped on this one (4, Interesting)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558402)

Pray tell!

When I met /. I was impressed with the jewels one could find, and moderation filters out a lot of the dross. Now I'm really curious about those "places" you speak of.

Re:we were scooped on this one (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558394)

I am not certain which is more entertaining.

Makes no difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557804)

In my experience, most people abhor the "more attentive modes of thought" and avoid them at all costs.

Those few who like such modes of thought actively create opportunities to engage in them.

The net caters to both groups.

That is all.

Re:Makes no difference (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558476)

"more attentive modes of thought: contemplation, reflection, introspection, deep reading, and so forth"

Well , i do that a lot . I little to much even ( sometimes it takes me like 15m to respond to a post , just because I'm always rethinking and rephrasing my words ).
And i generally don't spend more than 2 hours in a row without internet ( my job requires internet usage , luckily ).

So i agree : the net creates opportunities for both groups :

If you are interested in a subject , and want to know all about it , you can find all information on the internet . And then you can use that information to study the subject further.

If you just want the latest updates on something , you can find that too .

The problem with the analysis might be that a large group of people fit in the second category : they only use the net for quick , shallow information .

Battle of Wits? (4, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557858)

More like a battle of half-wits. Both positions are equally incorrect.

Shallow, superficial thinkers are going to use the Internet in shallow, superficial ways. Facebook and Twitter come immediately to mind but there are a myriad of ways to waste time on the Web. Deeper thinkers will use the Internet as a resource, a way to find information rather than for entertainment purposes alone. And it can't be denied that the ease of access to information is what has made the Internet the truly revolutionary thing that it is. It's changed everything. Yes, it's true, a lot of the information on the Web is not very good but most people have come to the realization on their own. If anything, that has actually created a larger group of skeptical, critical thinkers than ever before.

Re:Battle of Wits? (5, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557934)

The fundamental argument they are having is whether or not deep thinkers learn to be deep thinkers or if they are born to be deep thinkers. If thinking deeply is a learned behavior, then Carr may have a good argument. Then you move on to the specifics of whether or not the Internet promotes skimming or thinking deeply (my opinion is it depends greatly on where you go on the internet). If deep thinkers are born that way, then it doesn't matter.

My personal opinion is that it is a bit of both - some people are naturally deep thinkers, most people aren't, and there are varying degrees of that trait. The trait can be encouraged or discouraged through life experience, but I don't think it can ever be eliminated where it has always existed nor created where it has not. The internet is simply a tool that can be used by both skimmers to skim more information faster, and deep thinkers to connect and share with other deep thinkers. It is very useful for both cases, but I don't think by itself it promotes anything. A skimmer will use it to find what a skimmer is interested in, and a deep thinker will use it for what a deep thinker is interested in. They aren't mutually exclusive.

This is based on nothing more than an amature interest in psychology, so take it as you will.

Re:Battle of Wits? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557972)

That isn't really the question, though. The question isn't how people of a particular type will interact with technology X, the question is what sorts of people regular interaction with technology X, from early childhood up, will produce.

Unless you adopt the (almost certainly nonsensical) position that everybody is entirely born, not made, you have to concede some degree of environmental influence on people's eventual properties(the degree of that influence is certainly a matter of debate; but almost certainly isn't zero).

Now, I'm largely of the opinion that most of the "old media" types are basically whiny, nostalgic, curmugeons, who look back fondly on the days when we had "quality" and "gatekeepers"(that consisted largely of people like them deciding what did or didn't get printed). Some truly excellent stuff has, certainly, been printed; but most of print has always been yellow journalism, pulp novels, tabloids, picture books, and propaganda. The same shit as the internet; but less convenient. The other thing that irks me about the "old media" types is that many of them seem blind to the fact that much of what may have made their medium valuable(see any of the stuff about he value of the "fourth estate"/journalism to democracy) had already been gutted and sold for scrap by the rise of TV well before the internet was anything more than a research toy for a few tech-heads with university affiliations.

The internet is the new and shiny, and thus catches the flack; but, in many respects, the "old media" that it is busy killing is basically a shambling, undead, caricature of itself. A bunch of 24-hour talking heads opinion-driven shout-down shows, supine corporate mouthpiece newspapers, and parasitic journals selling scientists their own work at a fat markup. The "old media" types seem to make the mistake of assuming that the "new media" kiddies hate them and want to accelerate their demise because they are just juvenile vandals who wouldn't know a cogently expressed thought if it bit them in the ass, rather than considering the possibility that they are either ossified or rotten.

Re:Battle of Wits? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558004)

I can feel my thinking process change already. I used to spend hours reading books, or focused on solving tough puzzles, or an hour staring at the latest Star Trek episode, simply because there was nothing else to do (no net and television only had a few channels).

Now the net let's me have multiple tabs open, so I can jump to slashdot, to facebook, to youtube to watch a video, to Winamp to tune-in some news program, and then back to slashdot. And I multitask. Now I watch two TV episodes at the same time.

I'm being overloaded with information and it's affecting my thought process
.

Re:Battle of Wits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558076)

Once a tard always a tard.

Close (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557860)

Slashdot is here to provide tepidly intellectual nerds some dick grabbing space so they can pretend to be more knowledgeable than Harvard professors on topics outside of their expertise.

Here are Pinker's credentials [wikipedia.org] :

Pinker... graduated from Montreal's Dawson College in 1973. He received a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from McGill University in 1976, and then went on to earn his doctorate in the same discipline at Harvard in 1979. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a year, after which he became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University. From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and eventually became the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. (Except for a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995-6.) As of 2008, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard.

Where are yours?

Re:Close (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557948)

Slashdot is here to provide tepidly intellectual nerds some dick grabbing space so they can pretend to be more knowledgeable than Harvard professors on topics outside of their expertise.

Nailed it! *highfive*

Re:Close (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557980)

I feel very strongly about my opinions!

For anybody who isn't a liberal, pointy-headed elitist who hates America and freedom of speech, that should be more than enough!

(The above represents sarcasm. If you find yourself experiencing even a twinge of agreement, please report for euthanasia at your earliest convenience.)

Right here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558450)

Anyone, no matter how educated, is capable of throwing together a bunch of buzzword-laden tripe for the sake of name-promotion and making pretensions of relevance.

Academics, though smart, are under perpetual pressure to publish and generate interest. It's how the game is played. Having earned a degree themselves, they are more practiced than anyone at filling pages with important-sounding but ultimately empty BS just to make the grade (or, in this case, get the exposure).

The literary world is overflowing with wrong statements made by very educated people.

Appeal to ethos can be a quick way to defeat one's own critical thinking skills.

Re:tl;dr (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557642)

this is very interrestingSQUIRREL!!!

Re:tl;dr (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557914)

The only deep reading I do is on BDSM sites.

I can see that (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557616)

I am extremely good at searching, skimming through the web. I always find relevant results faster than my coworkers.
But I have to force myself to read a complicated paper properly. I can skim it 100 times and will still not have understood it. If I force myself to read it once properly, I gain much more, but it is harder to concentrate on (trained mind).

Re:I can see that (3, Interesting)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557738)

Yes, but is reading such papers truly necessary? I mean perhaps in academia...if you want to teach Philosophy or languages or something...but for true productive work, what does it matter? The way I look at it, the internet has made it matter less how much you know and more how much you can find and use. For all practical purposes, there's not a huge difference between memorizing entire books and being able to quickly pull the same information off Google when you need it. It's now less about what you know, and more about how you can actually use that knowledge.

Re:I can see that (2, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557796)

Is it better to be 99.9% accurate after 1 hour or 95% accurate after 5 minutes?
It depends on the application of course. In many ways being able to pull relevant information from the internet is just helping us get 97% accuracy in 10 minutes. Its the best of both worlds.

If pre-digested "facts" are what you are after. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558318)

Just look around at the "discussions" on slashdot. You'll find people who have that 95% accuracy arguing with people who have spent YEARS working in a specific field.

It isn't about what facts you can find. That's nothing more than trivia. And that depends upon the facts being correct in the first place.

To phrase it another way, the first 95% gained in the first 5 minutes is worth less than the next 4.9% gained in the next 55 minutes.

When you go in for major surgery, do you choose the doctor who hasn't specialized in that and spent 5 minutes reading about it? Or do you go with the one who's done 1,000 of those operations with a 99.9% success rate?

Re:I can see that (1)

jasno (124830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557920)

Are you fucking serious? Are you one of the hyperactive morons disguised as a programmer that I've been forced to work with over the last few years? The kind that goes to Google reflexively instead of, you know, looking at the fucking source code? What industry do you work in where your main reference tool is a search engine? Let me know, because I'm going to start a company and move your job to India, because it obviously doesn't require much intelligence.
 

Re:I can see that (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558096)

Well obviously you can't use Google for _everything_. My initial post did say you have to know how to find information - be it Google, the source code, or yes, even a book. But why have a several hundred page desk reference that doesn't even include everything you need when you can just pull up the Javadocs or a C reference online far quicker. Plus you have less crap cluttering your desk.

My father is an Attorney, and he always told me that in his work it's less about knowing facts and more about knowing how to find them. You can never memorize every law and case...just like you can never memorize every language and every library. You'll do much better if you focus on learning how to find the information you need than if you focus on trying to memorize as much as you can.

Re:I can see that (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558008)

Can you honestly not think of any areas of "true productive work" where minor matters like "precision" and "details" and "getting it right" matter at least as much as they do in philosophy?(arguably more, since fucking up a philosophy paper just means risking the disesteem of your peers, while fucking up an engineering project means buffer overflows and/or explosions...)

Re:I can see that (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558142)

The point I was making about Philosophy and academia in general is _not_ that you have to get all the little details right. That matters for anything. The point I was making is that in those areas, it seems that you are generally expected to be constantly reading and analyzing the works of others. If you're in Philosophy for example, you are probably expected to have read and understood much of Descartes or Heidegger or whatever past philosophers there are in your area of study. That doesn't happen in a field like Computer Science, for example. Nobody tells you to go read the Linux kernel.

Yes, precision and details and getting it right are important in any area. But you can find that information online, or in books, or from someone more experienced. The important thing, as I stated earlier, is knowing how to find that information. And thanks to the internet, when we have so many more sources of information, that has become much more important.

Re:I can see that (1, Troll)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557754)

I can skim it 100 times and will still not have understood it
Don't worry, it's probably just a symptom of a very common condition known as 'stupidity', most of my co-workers suffer from it.

depends on a person (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557618)

Most people have never been, are not and will never be deep thinkers able to contemplate beyond the moment, that's not what most people are by their nature, they are mostly very involved with the current and cannot bother to think at all beyond an established routine.

Then there are those who are thinking and contemplating and imagining regardless of the surrounding environment. The Internet gives us ability to get information very quickly and to test our points of view through many people, sort of like peer review of the thoughts.

I vote that the Internet makes smart people smarter and that those who are dumb benefit from ability to get to information quicker than they ever could (if they ever could before, because those who are impatient and not very deep will not bother to look for information through other, slower means.)

Re:depends on a person (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557664)

Not sure what your definition of "deep thinker" is, but I think everyone will at some point, preferably repeatedly, reflect on what they are doing, how their environment (social and otherwise) is configured, and think of changes to the way things work, i.e. alter the rules of the game.
Whether that is telling your boss your opinion for once, or joining an activist group.

I think Carr is arguing that with the Web constantly showing us something shiny dancing to techno, we never fall back on that natural reflection.

Smart or dumb. What good is a smart person when he does not use his brain?

Re:depends on a person (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557746)

When I say 'deep thinker', I am talking about a person who can concentrate on a topic and stay on it, approach the topic from different points of view, rotate it around, see various perspectives, remove the fluff and arrive at some useful conclusion (for various degrees of 'useful'). Thinking through something is about forming an opinion on the subject that is reflected from within, not imposed upon, it is ability to sift through the information and prune the useful or the 'good' from the rest of it, ability to use logic and imagination to derive a satisfactory result.

I don't believe everybody is mentally capable of it, and out of those who are capable only a small minority ever gets to do it.

I do not imply that getting into a conflict is a necessary part of this process, so telling your boss, or joining some activist group is not required.

I think Carr is arguing that with the Web constantly showing us something shiny dancing to techno, we never fall back on that natural reflection.

- people who want to, always find something 'shiny dancing to techno' whether with or without the Internet.

Smart or dumb. What good is a smart person when he does not use his brain?

- maybe they are pretty to look at? I don't know 'what good' is anybody really, except that some are more useful for progress and some are just 'useful idiots'.

Re:depends on a person (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557686)

Most people have never been, are not and will never be deep thinkers able to contemplate beyond the moment,

I have staff to do that for me!

Re:depends on a person (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558016)

Most people have never been, are not and will never be deep thinkers able to contemplate beyond the moment,

I have staff to do that for me!

Brilliant.

CC.

Re:depends on a person (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557930)

those who are impatient and not very deep will not bother to look for information through other, slower means.

You can't fix "willfully ignorant" by providing convenient information. I've had arguments with people who were next to a running computer and they would NOT look up the info that proved I was right. Because they weren't arguing to get to the truth, they were arguing to get social status, to "win" an argument.

Re:depends on a person (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558360)

You cannot fix the willfully ignorant, but I was not referring to those lost cases. I am talking about people who are not willfully ignorant, but are ignorant due to the circumstances and/or lack of ability. Those people can gain from being able to get very quick access to various information that is easy to retrieve.

Re:depends on a person (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558150)

Most people have never been, are not and will never be deep thinkers able to contemplate beyond the moment, that's not what most people are by their nature, they are mostly very involved with the current and cannot bother to think at all beyond an established routine.

Cynical but true. Many years ago I read an article in Advertising Age that lamented the fact that some 15% of Americans would not be reached by conventional USA advertising, & reaching that 15% would require an estimated 6 times the amount spent to reach the other 85%. The magical 15% were described as intellectual, having a well defined value system, & made decisions based on analysis of the return on investment of a potential purchase. The other 85% could easily be reached by emotionally based advertising. I consider this another indicator of the same point.

I lament the overwhelming ratio of gossip to news, & the proclivity of web presences to publish words designed to increase click-thru while containing no information.

But, the opposite - having no such web resource at all, is much worse.

So, figuratively speaking, caveat emptor!

Can we stop these stupid debates (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557622)

Ok, so what was radio's effect on the mind? TV? Telephone? c'mon... Not at all trying to troll, but this is the problem with the religion vs. science debate (at the least the problem with those who argue that science replaces or will replace religion and that is the way it should be). Science really insists that we ask and answer the right questions. Well, guess what we don't really know what the right questions on.. we handle that on a little bit of faith. Oh there's the scary F work ;)

Re:Can we stop these stupid debates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557700)

sorry that last line was written like shit with typos: Science really insists that we ask and answer the right questions. Well, guess what we don't really know what the right questions are.. we handle that on a little bit of faith. Oh there's the scary F word ;)

Re:Can we stop these stupid debates (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557832)

Science really insists that we ask and answer the right questions. Well, guess what we don't really know what the right questions on..

42!

Re:Can we stop these stupid debates (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557842)

Well, details matter, don't they? We've had these debates before, but we were debating different things.

Radio and TV had huge impacts on culture, but nothing like the web's impact on what is like to be an intellectual. Ultimately the web's impact on culture is going to be much larger than TV or radio -- probably more like the invention of the printing press.

What bothers me about these debates is the assumption that change is necessarily entirely good or entirely bad. When things change, humanity adjusts to a new reality that is sometimes much better than what went before, but never entirely satisfactory.

Take books. We often take the invention of books a baseline case that has no drawbacks. Books give us access to the words and thoughts of people we've never met or who are long dead. Furthermore that access is much more direct an unmediated than the hearsay of oral tradition. But does that mean we only gained, and lost nothing?

I think we probably lost some things with the invention of books. For one thing you can't have anything like orthodoxy without books. Books means you can be educated by the state or religious authorities and then then examined to ensure conformity. The invention of the printing press really destroyed oral tradition, replacing it with commercial popular culture. Now instead of retelling local legends and myths, we recount episodes of "Lost". We may have lost a kind of psychological richness by moving from stories that moved through hundreds or even thousands of storytellers to stories that are created in fixed form. "King Arthur" was the "Harry Potter" of the Middle Ages, but the idea that story must not be touched to remain authentic, that it is even the property of the author means it's unlikely we'll be reading "Harry Potter" hundreds of years from now.

Does this mean we should give up on books or the printing press? Obviously not. It's just that no change comes for free, and great gains aren't made without some corresponding loss.

Re:Can we stop these stupid debates (1)

rjiy (1739274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558068)

Wow, that's some deep thinking there man.

Re:Can we stop these stupid debates (3, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558426)

Hypothetically, would it make any difference to how you felt about that post if I told you it was a mash-up of stuff I found on Google?

Science insists what? (1)

DogFacedJo (949100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558358)

OK, I'll bite:

    Sure, if you want to be crazy certain that you are asking the exact right questions, then yes: faith is the only place to find such certainty. The rest of us science folks will just have to make do with testing and questioning our questions, our formalisms, our criteria for evaluating questions, our values, ... just like everything else. :)

misinformation is nothing new... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557624)

there's just lots more of it/us now. the 'thinking adjustment' required nowadays to incorporate the constant flow of deception into our routine as ok/normal is sort of like; we know our butts are on fire, but we've been informed that it's more of a cool 'comfortable' translucent glow, rather than a 'real' fire. what's the effect? what was the question?

the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their platform now. they do pull A LOT of major strings.

never a better time for all of us to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need not to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Bob Lewis (3, Insightful)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557630)

I liked Bob Lewis' commentary on Nicholas Carr. First he says IT doesn't matter, then the cloud is everything (er, um, IT matters after all) and now, IT matters but it's evil.

Lewis lumps Carr into those who throughout history have proclaimed that X (where X=radio, movies, talkies, television, calculators, computers, video-games, cell-phones...) will be the ruination of society. And somehow society continues. I'm getting a bit tired of Carr and his ever failed proclamations.

From the books by Pinker that I have read, he is a fascinating writer with a gift for clear explanations.

http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/self-proclaimed-experts-predict-ruination-new-technologies-ignore-them-489?page=0,0 [infoworld.com]

I Have To Agree (0, Troll)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557646)

That one dude who said people skim too much on the internet... what's his name? Yeah whatever. Anyways I think he has a point. Ever since I started reading slashdot I can't seem to focus on important details. Kind of like BP's execs and their oil rig's safety mechanisms.

Re:I Have To Agree (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557728)

Kind of like BP's execs and their oil rig's safety mechanisms.

You mean Transocean and Haliburton don't you? Better stop skimming as well!

I don't know if the net makes us (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557658)

into "distracted, shallow thinkers", but it sure as heck makes life more interesting for us.

Having an effect on my grammar and spelling (4, Interesting)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557670)

I don't know about the attention problems created or not created by the Net, but I can say that the internet is making me dumber in one aspect, and that is spelling and grammar. In the old days most news and information was filtered through professional organizations, and irrespective of the veracity of such reports at least the grammar and spelling was usually close to perfect.

These days I am exposed to so much bad spelling and grammar that it is having an effect on me. I increasingly find myself not even noticing spelling errors, which bothers me.

Re:Having an effect on my grammar and spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557714)

These days I am exposed to so much bad spelling and grammar

NO U

Re:Having an effect on my grammar and spelling (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557944)

I increasingly find myself not even noticing spelling errors

Neat trick, how do you pull it off?

I never find myself not noticing things, since I'm so busy NOT noticing them at the time.

Re:Having an effect on my grammar and spelling (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558192)

Good point. I meant not noticing them until later. When it's embarrassing.

Re:Having an effect on my grammar and spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558212)

So, make use of a spell checking tool. It filters out most mistakes and is a reasonable compromise for language correctness, as it does not waste an editor's time (how many million man-years would we waste if all the content on the 'net had to be perfect in language...?).

Unpossible! (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558294)

Hundreds of thousands of Grammar Nazis would beg to differ with your assumption.

OMG this totally explains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557678)

...recent [slashdot.org] achievements [slashdot.org] in North Korea.

I believe this (4, Interesting)

Smoke2Joints (915787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557680)

I have seen it in myself just recently.

Having been a fairly intellectual person, in the past 5 years or so I have noticed a distinct lack of patience, memory, and attention, and also find it hard to really sit down and get into something - at least until Ive forced myself to and have done it for a while, then I dont even think about it. Quite often now I sit at the PC here intending to browse the web for something relevant to my interests and just have no idea what I want to search for, so Ill instead browse the recommended lists on youtube, or randomly browse wikipedia. Ill let the internet tell me what to pursue instead of thinking for myself.

Its a dangerous tool. In some respects, in the earlier days, its enabled me to push my personal boundaries, but if youre not careful, it can lead to reliance. Its like an addiction, with all the negatives that a narcotic might have. Im not entirely sure what to do about it, short of ditching it completely - but then again, my JOB is the internet as well!

Re:I believe this (4, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557784)

Let's see, your user name is Smoke2Joints & you're getting older. Do you really have no idea why your memory & attention span is shortening? It's all downhill after 25 & gets worse after 32.

Re:I believe this (1)

Smoke2Joints (915787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557892)

Ok, this applies to under 25's? Didnt realise. But good point re: age, and yes Ive considered it. Hard to make a subjective validation there tho. Also, I dont actually smoke pot.

Re:I believe this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557954)

yah i never inhaled either

was too scared :\

Re:I believe this (2, Insightful)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558010)

Its a dangerous tool. In some respects, in the earlier days, its enabled me to push my personal boundaries, but if youre not careful, it can lead to reliance. Its like an addiction, with all the negatives that a narcotic might have.

First of all there are negatives that some narcotics have that internet usage does not; like actually physical dependency. But besides that; yes you can get addicted to "the internet" just like you can get addicted to anything. An unsatisfied mind looks for distraction.

However IF internet use automatically leads to procrastination is something I highly doubt. But no doubt for those without a clear idea of what they want do can easily fall into a loop of, most often, mediocre entertainment clips, games, and debates.

Re:I believe this (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558240)

I sit at the PC here intending to browse the web for something relevant to my interests and just have no idea what I want to search for, so Ill instead browse the recommended lists on youtube, or randomly browse wikipedia

Think that's bad? One word: lolcats

I stopped reading (4, Funny)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557692)

I stopped reading after this guy droned on too long about whatever it was he's complaining about. A quick trip to wikipedia proves him utterly wrong.

Re:I stopped reading (1, Funny)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557956)

You actually just sorta proved his point there.

Shoulda just kept your mouth shut.

Re:I stopped reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558286)

woosh

Re:I stopped reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558398)

http://pix.motivatedphotos.com/2009/4/9/633748533114571260-sarcasm.jpg

I'll take it (1)

vladisglad (1214592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557702)

Things never stay the same and neither do our minds. I have a harder time focusing than some older folk, but I can deal with a thousand times more information at a fraction of the time. You take some you lose some. You have to prove that this is truly a negative trend, not like this would challenge the core humanity.

Re:I'll take it (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558064)

I have a harder time focusing than some older folk, but I can deal with a thousand times more information at a fraction of the time.

Would be interesting to see how the relation changes when it comes to knowledge instead of information.

CC.

Disagree, Sample Size 1 (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557730)

I can't speak for anyone else, but while I do skim the news on Google and Slashdot, I also often delve.

When I saw an article, for example, on CDOs and their role in the 2008 collapse, I spent a couple hours diving into the depths of credit derivatives. Ultimately this led to studying the 1987 S&L collapse and to compare and contrast the two situations. It was very enlightening and all the research was carried out via the Internet.

Is the Internet the cause of facile perusal as he implies?

Is it the the motivating force behind my deeper study?

I would suggest it is neither, or both. It is a means for both skimming and deep traversal. While one might argue that Twitter or Facebook facilitates and hence encourages interruption, one could as easily argue that Wikipedia or The Bureau of Economic Analysis do as much to encourage deep consideration.

I might suggest that there is another cause for his observation: Perhaps he is looking at popular media and its place on the Internet. I think it is reasonable to claim that The New York Times has become more oriented toward trite sound bites during the explosion of the Internet. To this, however, I would ask; correlation or causation? Has the Internet made the New York Times shift, or has mass media been shifting toward bland wire stories and hot-talk editorials independently?

Re:Disagree, Sample Size 1 (5, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558040)

In both cases, you're still skimming (though one a bit deeper than the other, it's still surface).

Basically Carr is pissing and moaning that nobody really contemplates life, the universe, and existence any more. What the dumbass misses is the fact that historically, almost nobody contemplated life, the universe, and existence. It's the reason that when we think of the great thinkers in history, we go back to about a handful of guys, and half their ideas turned out to be half-cocked.

He makes the typical mistake of assuming things were better in the past, when in fact they weren't. Thinking is great, but it is literally worthless if everything you think about is completely wrong. Free access to information allows thinkers to build on the past with accurate information, instead of being doomed to waste time repeating someone else's mistakes.

There has been no great proportional shift against deep thinkers, they have always been few and far between. If it seems like their are more shallow thinkers today, it's because there are: there are significantly more people today. There are also more deep thinkers, but they have never gotten the attention they deserved in their lifetime. To see few lauded thinkers today is nothing new, the lauded thinkers are always those of yesteryear, who's ideas have had time to come to fruition and have proven their value. The internet, in fact, makes it easier to find and build on modern thinkers today, if one is so inclined, instead of waiting decades for the information to eek out.

The symbiotic creature human+net is improving (4, Interesting)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557736)

We are framing the debate incorrectly. Rather than ask what its effect on the individual human being is (an interesting question but not the centrally important one), we should be asking what is the overall effect on "intelligence resident on Earth" of the combination of humans + computers & the net.

Because clearly, humans + the net of computers is becoming a collective intelligence.

The intelligence and knowledge, is no longer located within an individual person, but rather within the distributed knowledge and communication infrastructure as a whole. We have made our environment, our tools semi-intelligent, and it is becoming irrelevant to ask how much does a person know about the world. The most salient question is, how capable is that person of learning continuously, and how much epistemology do they know and practice; in other words, are they capable of continual theory modification without excess belief commitment, and can they use a principled approach to assessing the credibility and consistency of information in an only semi-coherent sea of information from multiple sources. If they can do these things, they can become a zen master of much of human knowledge; they can become an instant semi-expert in any field that does not require automatic (body) knowledge. Make no mistake. The relevant competition (and co-operation) that will take place going forward will be between these "renaissance person" dialectical minds, enhanced by the net's collective knowledge.

What will that be like, we ought to ask, and yes, also, what will it be like for those who cannot adapt to, or for economic reasons cannot plug into, the presence of an intelligent environment.

Re:The symbiotic creature human+net is improving (4, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557964)

I agree.

In a modern context, it's almost unfair to test a person's intelligence when you've deprived them of the intellectual infrastructure they've built around themselves. So asking a person to solve a contrived problem without giving them access to the Internet, for instance, it not an accurate measure of how intelligent that person would "really be" in the real world.

Of course you could say that letting people use the Internet or calculators isn't testing their own personal intelligence. Then again, if you ask them a math problem, are they cheating if they use a piece of scrap paper to work it out? Are they cheating if they use the symbols and tricks of mathematics that they've learned? The evolution of humankind has been one of building better and better tools to allow us to externalize computation and abstract-away mental problems so that the brain itself can concentrate on the important part of the thought-process. So language, books, symbolic mathematics, calculators, computers, the Internet... these all build up our intelligence by allowing us to out-source mental tasks (whether they be tasks like short-term memory, where scrap paper can work wonders, or large computations, where computers can help, or tedious search, where the Internet saves the day...).

Putting aside doomsday scenarios ("What if all the infrastructure fails? We won't know how to feed ourselves?"), the prevailing counter-argument is that by outsourcing we make the human at the center of the technology "dumb". Historical evidence suggests otherwise (each "outsourcing of thought" has enabled us to tackle harder problems). (Another argument goes along the lines of "you need to be smart enough to use the tech"... e.g. you need to know how to add and multiply otherwise a calculator is useless to you. This is absolutely true and so it will continue to be the case that humans need to build up skills of those sorts, including skills related to deep contemplation. But that doesn't mean that we need to strip away calculator-like tools to do that.)

And, your focus on the collective as a whole really does frame this argument in a better way. Does it matter if the human is getting "dumber" by some metric... if what he/she actually accomplishes and experiences day-to-day is actually greater and more amazing? The fact that "me+Internet" can have a detailed realtime argument with another "person+Internet" somewhere else on Earth, each of us bringing massive amounts of knowledge and computation to bear in the argument, is, in my opinion, a net gain in human mental performance, even if the solitary "me" would be useless if abandoned in a forest. And even if solitary "me" has a shorter attention span.

Re:The symbiotic creature human+net is improving (3, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558174)

Internet "semi expert" is just a myth and self-dellusion.

In order to make meaningfull contribution to any field, you need comperehensive knowledge of subject or else you will fall into traps many have already fallen and walk into dead ends. Not to mention constant need of aditional info that slows you down.

You can obtain skills easily and they will serve you good, but only for shallow usage. You can confuse reading few wikipedia articles with becoming semi-expert, as in truth you just added few bits of trivia to your repertoire.

You can read tutorial for new programing language and start coding small fry utility in less than hour, but small chat with veteran will quickly reveal how much you still have to learn to play with "big boys"

You can become familiar with some historial event in order to understant it causes, impact and context, you will just not be able to hold conversation about it with someone who knows.

In university, our teacher explicitly allowed internet access during exams (as well as cheat sheets and book and notes). He was confident that it would be useless for students and he was true - his tests required understanding of subject rather than memorized facts; anyone who attempted to pass it with google and empty head failed it.

It demostrated rather well what happens when your knowledge of subject is lacking and that applying books/internet to patch it is doomed to fail.

People become zen masters of useless trivia rather than knowledge with net.

This reminds me of "How to bluff about X" (X being classical music or physics or wines) series of pocket books: Quick surge of useless knowledge. Paper form of internet. Anyone wanting more than few keywords and bullet points simply needs to study subject comprehensivelly.

it's a 'kinder gentler' form of censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557740)

like what robbIE's patentdead PostBlock devise does, either touting or discrediting information prior to investigation, &/or based on advertisers' whims, & now even those pr 'firms'.gov get to 'moderate' content too. tell 'em robbIE.

Twas Ever Thus... (5, Interesting)

careysub (976506) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557758)

Have we fully come to terms with the devastating effect that the written word has had on our minds?

In 800 BCE, before the Greeks began to write things down, Homer (or another man by the same name :-)) could compose and recite two vast epic tales - the Iliad and the Odyssey - purely from memory. In the ages before writing prodigious feats of memorization were essential for cultural transmission, and evidence shows that Australian Aborigines have carried traditions down intact across tens of thousands of years. What literate person today could even dream of carrying out such immense tasks of memorization?

Information technology has always affected how we use our brains, and exploiting new capabilities is inevitably associated with allowing older modes of mental information processing and storage to languish. No doubt similar cries of alarm were issued at every earlier information innovation.

In other news, there has been a devastating loss in flint-knapping skill, which takes many years of practice and apprenticeship to perfect. This skill has been essential to the human race for almost all of its existence, having been replaced only in the last few percent of the species history by new-fangled metal-working technology. We won't know for another 4000 generations or so if metal will have the longevity as trusty old flint.

Re:Twas Ever Thus... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558314)

Have we fully come to terms with the devastating effect that the written word has had on our minds?

Probably not. Our brains weren't exactly built for reading. They weren't built for science, contemplation, or abstract thought for that matter. Our brains were build for hunting/gathering and social interaction. The amazing thing is that we've been able to use social/hunting/gathering/survival brain functions for all of these other purposes.

Re:Twas Ever Thus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558338)

No literate person. But a computer. Any computer, in fact.

And the best of Humanity have and will never match the "exact retelling" ability of a computer. Not even close. That's why supplementing the power of our brains with these machines is desirable and actual progress.

A battle of wits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557768)

Man in Black: I challenge you to a battle of wits.
Vizzini: For the Internet?
Man in Black: [nods]
Vizzini: To the death?
Man in Black: [nods]
Vizzini: I accept!

Aren't We Disproving Carr As We Type? (3, Insightful)

Alien7 (310889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557772)

Isn't the very fact that we are discussing this issue via the internet disprove Carr's argument? Is this not a deep thinking issue, or does the topic that he picked to write his entire book on a shallow baseless bit of info that no one will take the time to thoroughly discuss?

I spend most of my online time debating philosophy and theology on youtube. YouTube! Supposedly the most shallow attention deficit form of media. I've been geared toward philosophy and deep thinking since childhood. If nothing else the internet give me access to peers who are willing to discuss intellectual topics, which are few and far between in my everyday life. No one wants to talk Religion at the bar, no one in my personal life is willing to take the time to learn about Quantum Physics. The internet gives me output for my deep philosophical thoughts I wouldn't otherwise have. Technology is a tool, it doesn't fundamentally change human nature.

one serving of intellectual dishonesty, plz (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557774)

our use of the Net is encouraging us to become distracted, superficial thinkers.

Our education (or lack thereof) is encouraging us to become distracted, superficial thinkers. A constant deluge of advertisements, commercials, billboards, 30 second sound-clips, etc., isn't helping. Critical thinking is a skill, not a talent -- as such, it is learned. Blaming an inanimate pile of wires, servers, and routers on that is absurd.

The Net and other digital technologies 'are the only things that will keep us smart'

Human intellectual capacity hasn't significantly altered in over 16,000 years. The internet is not, in the span of one or even five generations, going to change it.

'We're training ourselves, through repetition, to be facile skimmers, scanners, and message-processors -- important skills, to be sure -- but, perpetually distracted and interrupted, we're not training ourselves in the quieter, more attentive modes of thought: contemplation, reflection, introspection, deep reading, and so forth.'

That training has nothing to do with the internet. It is the byproduct of paradigm shifts in how we socialize with one another. The internet may have enabled that, but by no means is it solely or even largely responsible for it.

Children (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32557792)

Who can do any 'deep thinking' while raising children? Unless you find a way to ignore them...

And it becomes a flamewar (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557850)

Only a matter of time before they start calling each other mindless faggots, and thus, Carr will be the victor.

What do they actually disagree on? (4, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557876)

In some sense the argument between Pinker and Carr is a variant of the classic "nature vs. nurture" dichotomy. Of course, both Pinker and Carr are knowledgeable enough that they do not cast it so simply. Both of them acknowledge that the basic framework of the brain/mind is established by evolution, but that considerable learning/modification can occur within that framework based on experience and training.

This makes their disagreement a rather more subtle one that the media reports would have us believe. And, actually, far more subtle than either of those op-eds addresses.

The actual disagreement isn't about whether evolution establishes mental modules, or whether experience can modify the brain (both of these are well-established as being true; and both Pinker and Carr would broadly agree with these statements). The real disagreement is over assertions like when Carr says:

We're training ourselves, through repetition, to be facile skimmers, scanners, and message-processors - important skills, to be sure - but, perpetually distracted and interrupted, we're not training ourselves in the quieter, more attentive modes of thought: contemplation, reflection, introspection, deep reading, and so forth.

One can easily grant that we are probably training ourselves to be good at fast skimming, scanning and message-processing (search engines, email, etc.). However Carr seems to be generalizing from this to assume that we are therefore spending less time on contemplation and deep thought. Pinker seems to disagree (implying that deep thought has always been a difficult activity and is probably given as much practice/attention today as it ever was). But neither one provides much evidence. In both cases they point to more tangential evidence.

Obviously an op-ed isn't the best venue for a detailed analysis of scientific literature, but the fact that there is no slam-dunk evidence presented in either leads me to believe this question is still very much unsolved. In this sense, neither of them should be quite as confident in their stated opinions.

At a minimum, we as readers shouldn't draw any deep conclusions from the flimsy evidence those two op-eds present. What I'm really concerned about is that the vast majority of readers will use the two op-eds purely for confirmation bias. Neither one presents a highly convincing case, so readers will simply focus on believing the tidbits from the article that supported their preconception.

Re:What do they actually disagree on? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558052)

One says "new thing good; makes us smarter", the other says "new thing bad; makes us dumb".

I'm with the "yay progress" guy, the other one says it's bad that people are spending more time with a screen and less with printed words, and like all worshipers of the printed words, he doesn't say why that medium is better than all others. I read books, but I don't think I'm doing something more worthwhile with my time reading a book than watching a movie by the nature of the medium, only by the quality of the content.
A harlequin novel is not intrinsically better than a BBC documentary. A New York Post article is not by its very nature better than a wikipedia article.

*ehem* (0)

Hellaphunt (1832650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557890)

I used to be retarded. Then the Internet came. So did I. I also got more smartarded.

Carr (?) is incorrect (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557952)

He has the same type of argument than those which deplore the loss of a certain type of skill among the populace (like hand writing, buggy driving, water bearing, and I pass many other). The bulk of the population don't need to have deep introspection. The bulk of the population is acquiring the SKILL they need to live and work. If it is tilling , so be it. If it is skimming article on the ent, so be it. Now if lamarckian evolution was a reality I would be worried, but it is not. Therefore it isn't as if an individual could not learn to dvelve and not skim, even if the rest of us does. What he sees as a loss, is indeed a gain for the average population.

Information is bad? (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32557986)

Yes the internet includes spacebook and myface, but it also has Wikipedia and tons of other useful sites.

Kind of like a library.

Or are those bad too? Or are they only bad if you have social interactions while you're there?

The whole argument is retarded. Dumb people are dumb and smart people are smart. Information and socializing doesn't change that. I'll never understand how instant access to all the information in the world is somehow bad for you.

It's probably the best thing that's happened to humanity and if you think it's harming people, well, you just don't get it.

Re:Information is bad? (2, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558348)

Thank-you.

-The analogy I was tinkering with before I ran across your summation was, "Hey, human brains are routinely used to entertain stupid, vapid thoughts, so brains should be banned. And I'm suspicious of human hands as well; consider how often they are used to do stupid, dangerous things!"

The medium is the message, yes; we are always changed by any medium we use frequently. But honestly. . , we can choose the websites we visit. I use my computer to read books as well as watch youtube videos and everything in between. I know a LOT more today than I did ten years ago, and that's largely thanks to humans communicating freely on the web.

I think, though, for me the single most powerful, can't find it anywhere else, value of the web is that of forum discussion. I can have personal illusions and false info blasted to pieces faster on line than anywhere else. There are universities and various gatherings where people can discuss and compare knowledge, but that's not available or as fast. (Which, coincidentally, is one of the reasons I think the iPad is a giant brain-damper. You can't type! It turns the information flow back into a one-way street, where people are no longer doing but instead passively sit down to be programmed with the daily download, fed public consensus rather than building their own.)

But sure, if you fritter away your on-line energies, then you won't reap much overall. You get out what you put in. Just like life.

-FL

Mutually exclusive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558092)

Erm... Neuroplasticity is a recognized /phenomenon/. Nobody doubts that it happens, as it's the foundation of learning in infancy, and has been shown to remain somewhat into adulthood. Total neurological rigidity would mean that we were unable to learn at all (I.e. Even rote learning).
Evolutionary psychology, however, is a school of thought within a field. It doesn't necessarily preach neurological rigidity, just that the nerurological plasticity would need a function in keeping with natural or sexual selection.

  I think that the author may mean 'Synaptogenesis may stop in adulthood, and that some evolutionary psychologists support this argument', rather than 'Neuroplasticity is making the internet make us smart (?) or evolutionary psychology is making the internet make us dumb(?)'?

Yes, there are a lot of question marks. His statements were really dumb.

Old proverbs (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558182)

When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

When cognitive psychologists fight, nobody notices.

knowledge != intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558200)

At least, not Is it enough just to know the information, and will the average netizen know how to manipulate that information?

Seriously? I'm sorry but... (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558248)

tl;dr

sanky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558264)

So intelligent people get everything ready-made and have stopped thinking and thus are becoming dumber while those stupid dumbasses who can't think for themselves have means to enlighten themselves and become smart.
So eventually we will reach a state of equilibrium. Cooooool.

Reading and Writing bad for attention, deceptive (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558306)

Reading and Writing found to be bad for attention, deceptive and morally corrupting

SPARTA, Greecean Lands, 389 B.C.E. Spartan philosopher Demosnstentes announced today that his extensive research has revealed that the use of ink and papayra and similar technologies leads to severely negative and morally corrupting results.

"Reading causes you to be separated from the moment and events in front of you," said Demosnstentes. "Often, it presents a false or sort of virtual reality, which does not actually exist and confuses the reader. As well, it has a clearly destructive effect on the memory, which can be seen in reader's inability to perform simple tasks, such as reciting shorts texts such as the Illiad and Odyssey, or the names of all their ancestors."

"Moreover," he continued, this artificial reality separates individuals from actual reality, and other individuals, leading to individuals who are unable to focus on the real world and general moral corruption. "Reading is clearly bad for the soul," Demosnstentes declared in the Spartan town square while advertizing his seminars for young men. "Youth have even been known to be so mezmerized by this new, destructive technology that they spend all night reading, and then ignore their duties the next day."

What can be done? When asked this question by this reporter, Demosnstentes replied "I dunno. Perhaps we should burn all the papyrus and return to relying on our memory."

Good lord, the internet is a fucking tool... (1)

binary paladin (684759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558378)

And like all tools, its usefulness has everything to do with the user.

I'm sure there were dickwad cavemen who wondered if the invention of the bow and arrow would make for lazy hunters and you know there were guys out there that thought nailguns were for pussies and real men should use only framing hammers.

Man, I gotta tell you, think of how far society has fallen with our "right now" attitudes as of late. I mean, if women were still spending 6 - 8 hours doing laundry by hand they wouldn't take so much for granted. But no... we had to invent washing machines and dryers and make that an instant gratification process.

This fucking internet has made me so lazy. I used to spend HOURS in law libraries. Now I just look shit up on Westlaw and have more time to, oh I don't know, actually write a brief and put all my thoughts together.

Lazy ignorant barbarians aren't going to change. They'll find the most useless means of using any given tool. Intelligent people will exploit it and use the additional time for something useful. End of line.

Ev Psych vs Neural Plasticity? (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558380)

That's about the worst way to summarise the dispute that I could imagine. The two are not in conflict unless one takes ev psych to imply a kind of deep behaviouralist determinism (which I don't think many people would do - from the perspective of the ev psych perspective/model, there's a lot of noise in actual behaviour - selective pressures are not absolute) and one takes neural plasticity to the degree that .. no, there's really no way to promote it into the archetype needed, because it's a more low-level effect.

The dispute itself is interesting, but whomever posed it using those concepts as representing the sides should stop writing about psychology.

Personally I blame tabbed browsing (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32558388)

At any time I'll have half a dozen pages open and will switch between after after reading just a few lines. I have no attention span whatsoever.

Carr is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32558452)

a narcissistic idiot. Since he was fired and had to tuck his tail between his legs and take his blog elsewhere there is no editorial control over is writing and it get worse by each article.

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