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Gadgets Have Taken Over For Our Brains

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the let's-get-started-with-the-implants dept.

Toys 311

skotte writes "According to a Trinity College survey released Friday, the boom in mobiles and portable devices that store reams of personal information has created a generation incapable of memorizing simple things. In effect, the study argues, these devices have replaced our long-term memory capabilities. 'As many as a third of those surveyed under the age of 30 were unable to recall their home telephone number without resorting to their mobile phones or to notes. When it came to remembering important dates such as the birthdays of close family relatives, 87 per cent of those over the age of 50 could remember the details, compared with 40 per cent of those under the age of 30.'"

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a dildo took over my pussy years ago (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857625)

I just sit there all day shoving a dildo in my pussy and playing with my clit.

Ahh, lonely saturdays.

Re:a dildo took over my pussy years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19858081)

Ahh, lonely ladyboys on /.

I was going to comment on that article... (4, Funny)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857629)

...but I forgot what it said.

Here, let me pull it up on my iPhone.

Re:I was going to comment on that article... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857695)

This is worse than goatse.cx. Remember, you're on THE INTERNET, so anything goes. Be prepared to have nightmarish recollection of what you will see if you click on this. And remember, you were warned:

http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/8765/cortacabea2i q.jpg [imageshack.us]

Re:I was going to comment on that article... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857721)

Lame. And obvious.

err obvious point (4, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857633)

study shows people who have had longer to remeber things, remeber more things!

Re:err obvious point (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857657)

Learn how to spell. It's "remember", not "remeber".

Re:err obvious point (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857729)

Don't be too hard on the GP. Loss of memory will do that to you too :-)

Re:err obvious point (2)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857877)

I'LL REMEBER next time thank you POINTLESS GRAMA NAZI!

Re:err obvious point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857937)

you mean gammar, I believe ;)

It it would be a spelling nazi.

Re:err obvious point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19858091)

It it
Live in a castle? This looks like a symptom of Turret Syndrome.

Re:err obvious point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857997)

It's mean-spirited to point out such errors when it's readily apparent that English isn't timmarhy's primary language.

Re:err obvious point (4, Insightful)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857889)

I wholeheartedly agree. People over 50 have had 50 years of repetition to remember birthdays. In addition, they're more likely to have bought homes, and therefore to have had their home phone number remain the same for a longer period of time. The study also doesn't take into account how young people tend to use home phones less than older people, and tend to provide their cell phone number instead of their home phone number more often than older people. Perhaps I have my own assumptions in the previous sentence, but the study didn't quantify them in either direction.

A more useful study would be to give people in each group a list of numbers to remember. Have them study it for a couple days. Then take it away for a week, and have them come in to recite it. Which group does better? My personal guess would be that the results would match the historical learning capabilities of a person's age (which I personally don't know). I doubt there would be a significant difference between results in a study 20 years ago versus a study today. But it would be nice to have a control group of people who don't use gadgets to compare to.

Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a mile (5, Insightful)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857639)

A smart alec news reporter once asked Albert Einstein how many feet were in a mile. Einstein said he had no idea. The news reporter then berated him, because he didn't know. Einstein said that's what he had books for, to look up things like that. He didn't want to clutter his mind with facts.

I've got no problem letting a device remind me when my mom's birthday is. That's what it's for.

Re:Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a m (5, Interesting)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857735)

"A smart alec news reporter once asked Albert Einstein how many feet were in a mile. Einstein said he had no idea. The news reporter then berated him, because he didn't know. Einstein said that's what he had books for, to look up things like that. He didn't want to clutter his mind with facts."
Exactly. Richard Feynmen enrolled in some biology classes(he wasn't strictly a biology guy, but needed to understand some concepts) and asked some biology students about a "map of a cat" [multitran.ru] .

" When it came time for me to give my talk on the subject, I started off by drawing an outline of the cat and began to name the various muscles.

The other students in the class interrupt me: "We know all that!"

"Oh," I say, "you do? Then no wonder I can catch up with you so fast after you've had four years of biology." They had wasted all their time memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes. "

It's interesting to note that absolutely nothing has changed in the mechanics of the biology curriculum since Feynman's time.

Knowledge in memory vs in a book (5, Insightful)

spineboy (22918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857835)

Even though some things can be easily looked up in a book, having committed the facts to memory gives certain advantages that are not obtained by just having them in a book. Do you want your airplane pilot looking up what the trim settings, or throttle settings are on the plane when he is landing? Do you want your surgeon having to look up where the sciatic or femoral nerve is in the middle of your hip replacement?

The answer is no. The retained knowledge of facts allows for a more thorough understanding of the facts, and allows for easier manipulation. I see this all the time with idiot cashiers who can't make change, and have to look up what the correct change is for something that costs $19.27 after I give them $20.02.

Ir retort to Feynman - I could easily look up F=MA in a basic physics book, as opposed to cluttering my mind with that useless formula.

My arguments will obviously trigger a response in fans of the rote memorization vs those of the concepts(why learn adding - we have calculators). Probably swining too far in either direction is unwise, and a healthy balance between the two is beneficial in learning.

Re:Knowledge in memory vs in a book (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857931)

Do you want your airplane pilot looking up what the trim settings, or throttle settings are on the plane when he is landing?

It might scare you, but the first thing a pilot of a large airliner does when there is an emergency conditition is to pull out her flight manual to follow the detailed instructions on how to proceed with this particular emergency. There are too many different scenarios to know the rules for them all.

Re:Knowledge in memory vs in a book (1, Troll)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857935)

Do you want your airplane pilot looking up what the trim settings, or throttle settings are on the plane when he is landing?

No, I want the plane to be built well enough that they'd never have to know any of that.
I don't fly, but if I had no other choice I would rather trust in an airplane programmed with decades of information over a single persons memory any day.

Re:Knowledge in memory vs in a book (4, Insightful)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858089)

No physicist learns F=ma by wrote. They learn it by applying it. Your other situations all have time criticality. I don't want a surgeon looking stuff up mid op because it takes longer. I don't want a pilot looking up how to extend the landing gear mid landing because he should be paying attention to the ILS.

I can think of two situations when one might memorise material by rote. The first is when it is time critical. The second is when for the forseable tasks one intends to undertake it is faster to memorise the material than repeatedly look it up. In the case of Feynman and the biologists, Feynman is correct because he was able to do actual interesting biology without needing to memorise the material, catching up four years of real biology in no time. It is the equivilant of a physics degree comprising in no small part of memorising the lagrangians of condensed matter systems. Physics, certainly. Useful, sure. The most productive use of a students time, hell no!

The reason your retort to Feynman is specious is that Feynman would have no problem with you looking up Newtons laws, or the formula for the Ricci Tensor, or any other formula (heck I study quantum gravity and I don't know what the formula for the Ricci tensor is) like that the first 20 or so times. After you use a formula that often you will memorise it anyway. You might get a complaint if you don't know what the Ricci tensor is, or what a force is, because knowing what concepts are and how to use them is more important than knowing their precise form. It is the difference between knowing what the kidneys do, and knowing what each individual part of a kidney cell looks like under a microscope.

In reference to the article, I cant remember my own phone number, heck I forget how to spell my own middle name. These facts are not useful or relevant, so I don't bother to learn then. Not to mention they are stored somewhere else. The learn by rote generation is just pissed because mass storage has rendered most of the stuff they spent ages memorising obsolete.

Re:Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a m (1)

CalSolt (999365) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857855)

Knowing all the muscles in a cat isn't pointless trivia. It's important if one wants to understand the evolutionary links between various animal species, as the evidence and basis for comparison is anatomy, in many cases. Just like math is the fundamental language of physics, the basic structure of the various organisms is fundamental to understanding the rest of biology. Even so, those students probably never learned cat anatomy per se, but were able to figure it out pretty easily from knowing the anatomy of other mammals and a little evolution theory.

That said, I agree that we aren't really losing our long term memory, we're just not using it for pointless information.

Re:Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a m (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858125)

"Oh," I say, "you do? Then no wonder I can catch up with you so fast after you've had four years of biology." They had wasted all their time memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes. "

Of course, Feynman could also have caught up so fast because he was an abnormally smart guy with decades of experience in assimilating and making sense of lots of new scientific/technical information. I generally agree with his point, and I'm against memorizing things instead of learning concepts, but there are times (and fields) when you just have to do a little bit of memorization in order to learn and *use* some concepts.

Honestly, I don't see how it's a big deal that I have a hard time remembering my own phone number. I had the same problem before I had gadgets to remember it for me, since I almost never call it. And somehow I think lots of people have always had difficulty remembering the birthdays of everybody in their family. It seems like me there's a little bit of grumpy old man attitude about the good old days going on here...and get off my lawn!

Re:Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a m (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858211)

Feynman was the most overhyped scientist of the twentieth century. I mean, what has he done that will be remembered in 100 years time? Yet people go on and on about how great he was.

Re:Einstein couldn't tell you how many feet in a m (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857927)

If everyone would just use metric (like they did where Einstein grew up) there'd be no use for such pointless memorisation. In fact, the reason why this conversion hasn't happened yet is because so people many people *did* bother to remember it (and are too obnoxious to let go and learn).

...but Einstein was not educated in the U.S. (1)

anonymous_echidna (1019960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858177)

Didn't the 'smart alec' news reporter realise that Einstein had grown up with the metric system? Einstein had never had a reason to memorize how many feet were in a mile, and would naturally look it up if ever he needed it. I presume that the reporter would need to look up the captial cities of German states, but I would be terribly surprised if Einstein would have needed to.

Passwords (5, Insightful)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857641)

Maybe we're forgetting al this stuff because
a) we know we don't need to remember it
b) we've displaced the storage space with the massive variety of passwords we need to remember these days

Re:Passwords (1)

MBaldelli (808494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857791)

You remember all your passwords? Damn... That's why I have a thumbdrive and a program like KeePass to remember them for me.

How luddite of you *tongue in cheek*

Re:Passwords (1)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857871)

Not only that, but I'm betting that most of those people have had their phone number for much longer than people under 30. I'm 23 and I've had at least 6 different home phone numbers in two different countries (I remember about 3 of them, 2 of which I still use). They really ought to ask about how many phone numbers those people have ever actually used as personal lines. A more pertinent question might be whether or not those 50+s have cell phones and whether or not they can actually remember them off the top of their head.

So? (2, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857643)

People can't multiply four digit numbers together in their heads anymore either. They don't have to. Einstein didn't know his phone number either, he said he could look it up. Who cares if you can't remember your Aunt Trudie's birthday? We have technology for these things.

It's important to remember that the brain can only retain so much. When overloaded, a new fact replaces an old one. Do you all forget the episode of Married With Children, when Kelly went on a sports trivia show? The only thing she knew before she prepared for it was that her dad scored four touchdowns in a single game. She crammed all sorts of knowledge into her head, and was totally kicking butt in the competition, until the final question. "What local hero scored four touchdowns in a single game?" She had forgotten.

It is important to realize that we have a limited number of brain cells. With technology, we can use fewer of them, and this is how it should be.

Re:So? (5, Funny)

ameoba (173803) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857765)

...and you're using yours to remember episodes of Married With Children?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857793)

ROFLMAO! What a wonderful example in an example- thank you! Someone please mod parent up.

Re:So? (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857853)


You realize that Married With Children is *fiction*, right? It's only on the TV. It's a script that someone wrote. You can't use it as evidence to build a theory about how human memory works. It only shows that there is a *belief* among some people that new memories overwrite old.

On the other hand there *is* a lot of evidence that memory can be trained to increase capacity (and that factors such as diet and sleep patterns also play a key role in how good the memory is at various tasks).

So it's not a zero-sum game... no matter what Married With Children tells you.

In other news, inability to tell reality and TV apart is now universal in America. Or that's what it says on the news, anyway.

Re:So? (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858079)

I think another point needs to be raised. Let's say you don't need to remember Aunt Trudie's birthday because we have tech. What are you going to replace Aunt Trudie's birthday with? It seems an episode of Married with Children and how it relates to true life. I don't think that we can call that progress, actually I would call that regression.

If Einstein did not remember his telephone number fair so be it. Yet Einstein also probably was not thinking about Married with Children. He was thinking about other things related to physics, etc. Maybe if the youngsters of these days decided to focus on replacing their brain with something more useful than Paris Hilton or Married with Children episodes, then maybe America would not need to import so many damm specialists with skilled labor...

Re:So? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857979)

Do you all forget the episode of Married With Children, when Kelly went on a sports trivia show? The only thing she knew before she prepared for it was that her dad scored four touchdowns in a single game. She crammed all sorts of knowledge into her head, and was totally kicking butt in the competition, until the final question. "What local hero scored four touchdowns in a single game?" She had forgotten.

I don't remember that episode, but I remember Kelly was a blonde.

Good news (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857647)

Fortunately for us, the brain is fairly adaptable, so losing the capacity to remember phone numbers might mean gaining in other capacities--capacities that can't be replicated by technology yet.

Re:Good news (1)

thealsir (927362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857897)

I think that a brain with less clutter and baggage is one that can handle more things, and handle them efficiently and with less error.

There are some things that should be rotely memorized, mainly small pieces of information that need to be referred to quickly and often. But remembering a ton of small things can use up brain power that could be applied to better things.

and this is a bad thing?? (5, Insightful)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857649)

These gadgets are doing exactly what they are supposed to: they are freeing us from the tedium of having to memorize and keep track of meaningless numbers, dates, and times. I don't see why that's a bad thing.

Re:and this is a bad thing?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857917)

Maybe we should just forget the meaningless numbers and remember the important stuff?

Sad.. (0, Flamebait)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857655)

It is sad that people have to consult their freakign cell phones to recall their HOME PHONE NUMBER. My god.. I just wonder what is wrong with the parents who buy their eight year olds cell phones.. Make the kid get a job and buy their own phone. If that means they're eighteen before they get a phone, so be it. I am only nineteen and I am disgusted with my generation's lack of... well, everything.

Re:Sad.. (1)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857753)

It is sad that people have to consult their freakign cell phones to recall their HOME PHONE NUMBER.

That's the point of integrating address lookup as the default way of making a connection.. the underlying number becomes almost irrelevant to the end user. Even if it's your own.

Quick, off the top of your head, what's sugardeath.net's IP address?

Re:Sad.. (1)

gordo3000 (785698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857967)

useless info. I'm no server that keeps that kind of information. It's also a piece of info I never need to recall. It has never been something I need to remember and never will be.

On the other hand, the phone number you can be reached at is a very common piece of information you generally have to share. When you order pizza and they ask for your number, do you have to consult your address book?

What is the drawback of not committing basic info to memory? efficiency in a number of jobs. Do you look up the syntax for a For loop still(in your language of choice)? You can, so why care to remember it?

Re:Sad.. (1)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858043)

When you order pizza and they ask for your number, do you have to consult your address book?
My pizza company (and most delivery companies that I use here in London) just use caller ID, so no I dont. However I think that they now recognise my voice thanks to my ongoing mission to eat my own weight in pizza every month :)

Re:Sad.. (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858053)

Quick, off the top of your head, what's sugardeath.net's IP address?

Well put.

Re:Sad.. (2, Insightful)

ameoba (173803) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857779)

Don't worry - Once you've been out of school a little longer you'll realize that your generation doesn't suck significantly more than the rest of humanity.

Re:Sad.. (1)

Repton (60818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857819)

I can't remember my home phone number -- because I never use it. If someone wants to call me, I give them my cell number. I can certainly remember that.

(other flatmates use the landline, and we need it for internet anyway)

Re:Sad.. (1)

slapmyass (1126391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857923)

I can't remember my own license plate number of a car I've been driving for almost a year now even though I can immediately recall the plate numbers of my last 3 cars, my wifes car and the truck I drive at work..

Re:Sad.. (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858197)

Oh, please. Is it also sad that people use washing machines instead of taking their clothes down to the creek? Is it sad that you have to depend on your browser to use DNS to resolve slashdot.org into an IP address? Or that most of us use a car to drive to town instead of walking like they did in the "old days?"

I think if I had an eight-year old, I'd *prefer* they had a cell phone. Not so they can use 1500 minutes a month yakking with their friends, but so there's another option for communication with them (whether it's emergency calls or just letting me know that they're getting out of school 2 hours early because of a power failure or something).

Maybe you'll feel better when you get older and can be disgusted with generations other than your own, just like every grumpy old person should. :)

Duh (2, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857659)

They have no problem remembering them - after all that's what they use the devices for. Functionally it's the same thing as carrying them in your head, but now you can use the neurons for other things.

This is only going to get more extreme over time, bring on the implants already.

Re:Duh (1)

MBaldelli (808494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857805)

Yeah... But what happens when they lose their cell phone and they have to *gasp* trudge to a pay phone to call home? They're going to call 411 for that call?

There needs to be a balance as to what you should remember as opposed to what you NEED to remember.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857873)

wtf is this "pay phone" you speak of?

Re:Duh (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858007)

It's less than a dollar to call 411 for cryin out loud, I don't know anyone who loses their gadgets often enough that paying a dollar to get their phone number would be a big problem.
And if they do lose their gadgets that often, they've likely got bigger problems to worry about, like a drug addiction or somthing.

Re:Duh (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857823)

They have no problem remembering them - after all that's what they use the devices for. Functionally it's the same thing as carrying them in your head, but now you can use the neurons for other things.

Yeah, like storing all the minutiae of your life to regurgitate it to the knucklehead on the other end of the cellphone while you're driving?

We only use, what, 10% of our brains anyway --- why the need to free up some neurons? Nah. It's just mental laziness that leads to atrophy of the brain.

Re:Duh (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858045)

We only use, what, 10% of our brains anyway ---

Myth [snopes.com] . Please don't act as if that sort of nonsense is true...

changing world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857661)

"when it came to remembering important dates such as the birthdays of close family relatives"

what is important?

maybe that changes (too)

It's not that we're less capable... (1)

Kortalh (1102177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857663)

... it's merely that we don't need to memorize phone numbers and such. Personally, I'd rather focus my memorization on things that are more important than a 7-digit number that I'll only use once a month, at best.

Values? Importance? Experimental control? (2, Interesting)

S. Traaken (28509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857667)

I don't consider birthdays to be as important as my parents (and my parent's parents) do - so I don't bother trying to remember them.

If I know something is recorded somewhere else, I am less likely to remember it - why try to remember something that is easy to find?

No, I haven't rtfa, but what controls are in place to separate the conclusion of 'kids these days don't remember stuff good' and 'kids these days have different priorities'?

Their conclusion is a bit off-the-wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857669)

I find it debatable that such a loss actually exists. Their evidence seems a bit flimsy. The study only highlights that people are using their memory for different things, not that they have somehow lost it. I hope our ever-diminishing funds for basic scientific research didn't end up funding this crap. We're having enough of a problem funding science that needs to be done (thanks to our current president) without bozos like this cutting into our funds.

Insignificant details (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857673)

Sure...they can't remember their friends' phone numbers, but they memorize celebrities' hairstyles, dress, relationships, offspring, drama, and favorite brands of tampons?

Re:Insignificant details (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858019)

That's because they have nothing better to memorize, seriously.

Old news - I stopped using calculators years ago (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857683)

That's nothing new. I totally stopped using calculators years ago when I caught a friend of mine adding 2+3 up on the command line of an Apple II, mid conversation. No, I kid you not, two plus three, and he'd only realised it when I pointed it out.

I think he's done me a favour , it made me aware very early on that the brain is like a muscle and needs exercising.

There is a sort of fast food trend in the media which mirrors this problem. Let's just believe the headline without spending any critical thought on what lies behind it - that's like hard work. The result is fairly evident..

Use it or lose it - in more ways than one..

Re:Old news - I stopped using calculators years ag (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857885)

By "the media" you mean Slashdot? I think you've been here too long. You see, we're getting better; we read the headline AND the summary now!

Re:Old news - I stopped using calculators years ag (1)

12357bd (686909) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858105)

Even worse, there's some 'I don't mind' attitude in most posts, it looks like we have already give up the fight for our mental habilities.

Levels of storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857687)

My high-school English teacher made the same point back in about 1991 - there are three categories of information; things i know, things I know where to find out, and things I have no need to know. Only the first category is carried in the head.

The second category has grown enormously across time, and not just since the advent of computers and mobile phones. In the same way that books and other records eventually replaced oral history, people are simply choosing where to keep information
In fact, the process is largely unconscious, the brain manages its own chacheing..

Re:Levels of storage (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858201)

"According to a Royal study released Friday, the boom in printing presses and and cheap books that store reams of information has created a generation incapable of memorizing simple things. In effect, the study argues, these devices have replaced our long-term memory capabilities. 'As many as a third of those surveyed under the age of 30 were unable to recall the details of day's without resorting to the newspaper. When it came to remembering important dates such as the 's birthday or Scripture, 87 per cent of those over the age of 50 could remember the details, compared with 40 per cent of those under the age of 30.'"

-1613, London

Hmm.... (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857697)

The amount of information that people need to remember on a day to day basis has also grown quite a bit. So as to not be overwhelmed it's fine to keep devices to remind us of things, in fact they were created because of the rise in information in the first place.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857737)

Following on.... That said, not being able to remember your home phone number, or the birthday of someone close to you is actually a problem, but probably has nothing to do with the gadgets themselves, but more about the poor upbringing of the person in question, and their education.

Ok.. (1)

akkarin (1117245) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857703)

Ok, so their study shows... ummm.. damn, I've forgotten. Just a second, I'll get my Blackberry...

I think it's somehing more simple than gadgets (5, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857725)

Not enough sleep. The lack of sleep causes memory problems and insomnia is a growing sleep problem. I believe the average number of hours of sleep per night has been decreasing the last 50 years. Can't prove it. Although, look at the popularity of the latest sleep drugs.

Re:I think it's somehing more simple than gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857965)

but being an insomniac is so cool these days!

More Mentat training... (1)

Hitman_Frost (798840) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857727)

...could be the answer. ;-)

"Thou shalt not make a machine in the image of a man's mind." - O.C. Bible

double sigh (1)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857747)

It's not that "kids" today have trouble memorizing anything, it's that the amount of data that all of has to sort through has become obscene. Some of my friends have hundreds of phone numbers in their contact book. How many people, aside from high profile Hollywood agents/actors/directors had hundreds of phone numbers for all of their friends/contacts? I think this new "memory loss" can be attributed to information overload more than people getting stupider.

Re:double sigh (1)

gordo3000 (785698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857991)

my mom has hundreds of phone numbers, and until the last 5 years, she has kept them all written down in an address book. Yeah, it was pretty common back in the past, but also people today with hundreds of phone numbers hardly call any of them(many they never contact again) so it's not comparable to actually having hundreds of friends you stay in regular contact with. So I doubt it's any more common even though people carry those numbers around.

What's the point then ? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857751)

I don't understand the concept of needing to remember somthing that gadgets have been designed to remember for me.

We don't expect farmers to plant crops with their bare hands.

In Soviet Russia (0, Offtopic)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858221)

Gadgets memorize YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858229)

For once, I think SR has the right idea.

Flawed survey (1)

achillean (1031500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857755)

I'll just state the obvious by saying that they're comparing apples and oranges. They should be comparing today's Professor Roberston, who oversaw the research to mark the launch of Puzzler Brain Trainer Magazine, said that a series of five simple exercises a day can help to increase memory capacity. So the guy who's doing the experiment/ study is launching a magazine that aims to improve the memorization ability of its readers... Hmmmm.

Re:Flawed survey (1)

achillean (1031500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857775)

*grml* should've previewed*grml*
I'll just state the obvious by saying that they're comparing apples and oranges. They should be comparing today's pre-30 people w/ pre-30 people from a generation that didn't rely so heavily on electronics/ gadgets. I'm sure there were studies done on this sort of thing, and it would be a much better comparison. And is it just me or do older people in general pay more attention to birthdays/ special dates (more free time etc.)? Oh, and then there's this part:

Professor Roberston, who oversaw the research to mark the launch of Puzzler Brain Trainer Magazine, said that a series of five simple exercises a day can help to increase memory capacity.
So the guy who's doing the experiment/ study is launching a magazine that aims to improve the memorization ability of its readers... Hmmmm.

Extra 20 years to remember repeated event. duh!!! (3, Interesting)

lordperditor (648289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857771)

"87 per cent of those over the age of 50 could remember the details, compared with 40 per cent of those under the age of 30"

Wow you mean the extra 20 years of repeating the same birthday dates helped them remember them, duh no surprises there really.

What a load of dum f***s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857781)

Excuse the language, but this thread has me both in stitches, and extremely worried indeed.

So you "don't need to remember your home phone number" ?

And when the battery runs down on your portable "brain extension", wtf do you do then ?

Tech can be useful, but it's never going to be a replacement for the human memory, merely an aid.

I can rattle off my bank account, credit card, pin numbers, phone numbers of all my family and friends ... so even if my Nokia does die on me, I can at least withdraw money, pay for a cab, and even call my wife from a payphone to tell her I'm going to be late.

You people need to get some perspective, you're so in love with your PDA's you've forgotten how to use your brains.

I don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857785)

I have in my head up to 30 or more password for different emails, forums and other sites, computers, networks etc. Hell it might be even 50. And I keep changing them. So, it really depends on how you work.

Microkernel brain vs monolithic? (2, Funny)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857787)

Isn't this the issue really? A monolithic brain would be much faster in recollecting and using data. A microkernel brain (relying on gadgets for services) would have to deal with different gadgets to collect the same data and it would be use to access such devices. Not counting that different gadgets would not necessarily share data with each other (your laptop with your mp3 player, or with your PDA), immediately. So according to Linus, the old school of relying on a monolithic brain would probably be faster and probably more efficient, although a bit dirtier (misplaced wedding anniversaries, a known bug in the male population). After all it worked for centuries...

They've had longer to remember (1)

pilybaby (638883) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857795)

The old folks will obviously be better at remembering birthdays of all their family and friends because they've been to more of their birthday parties! As for the home phone number thing - I never call it and the only reason I have it is so I can use ADSL. Why should I remember it then? If you actually want to talk to me call my mobile, it's always by me.

Silly article (3, Insightful)

joss (1346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857821)

"Men came off worse than women. Only 55 per cent of men could remember their wedding anniversary, compared to 90 per cent of women."

There are a whole bunch of things in that article that are not necessarily
anything to do with the hypothesis. The above is just a particularly egregious
example. Apart from men not caring as much about relationships, how much thought
does an average man put into thinking about the wedding beforehand compared
to his spouse, 10% would be my estimate, but that's a little on the high side.

In the rest of it, so older people remember birthdays better than younger people,
maybe that's because they have been giving presents for longer etc

Re:Silly article (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858039)

"Men came off worse than women. Only 55 per cent of men could remember their wedding anniversary, compared to 90 per cent of women."

It's alot easier to remember a date when you're the one getting gifts every year.

Ummm (1)

quarrelinastraw (771952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857825)

I didn't see in the research where it showed that people who tried to memorize their phone number were "incapable" of doing so.

My bet would be that gadgets haven't changed the chemical process of memory formation. I'd wager good money that people are just choosing to remember different things...but I guess that makes less of a sensational headline.

Cell phones have little to do with it. (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857905)

I don't see the problem, really.

My friends with cell phones, they aren't particularly attached to their phone numbers so each time they renew their contract they just get a new number instead of transferring it. They may even change provider depending on the cost. I'm not going to put the time into learning a 10 digit number that will change in 12 months. Compare that to even my own child hood, to call a friend I had to only remember 7 numbers tops and only 4 most of the time.

The other obvious difference is that prior to getting a cell phone, if I wanted to call someone I would look up their number and then punch it into the phone. With a cell phone, I scroll to their name and hit send. What is it, that term for reading something and then writing it again to help memory, rote memorization?

Birthdays are completely different. I'd forget my own if other people didn't remind me. I can remember the general time of year, sometimes even the week of the month for some people, but anything closer then that is reserved for immediate family only.

What a crock... (2, Funny)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857913)

The ariticle is total bullsh... wait, what were we talking about again?

Solution for help (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857921)

I have a pocketPC/cell phone that can do it and asterisk servers can sure do it. I set them up so when I use speed dial, I have the actual number spelled to me before the device or the server dials. It sure helps me remember the numbers just in case they put me in jail without my devices or similar situations ;-))

We choose what to memorize... (3, Interesting)

Caine (784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857925)

No, I might not remember people's birthdays, simply because there's no need for it, my mobile phone tracks it. However I have no problems remembering 50+ passwords, 10+ PINs and usernames and security phrases. I want a study on how many above 50 do that?

Re:We choose what to memorize... (1, Troll)

ozamosi (615254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858073)

But it's just WRONG! When FSM/God created the long term memory, it was designed to house your phone number, not your pin code! If it's not housing your phone number, it is no longer a long term memory. When telephones were being invented, it was just the realization of the prophecy! ...right?

I Don't Want to Sound Crazy, But... (1)

Poseiden (575105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857929)

This could easily be seen as a trend propagated by large corporations' marketing coups over the past 60 years. Things like MTV promote a generation that doesn't really care about 'thinking' and we have the public consensus in the US that 'Smart people are lame and dorky, let's not be smart'. That certainly isn't something that happen to a species because of evolution - over the thousands of years of our recent development, it's always been the smartest ones that multiply the most, meanwhile the unintelligent ones of the society die out. This is no longer the case since modern society has started to take root in the world. Now, since the world mentality is so socialistic, thinking that everybody has the right to live and the right to multiply that we have our current stage of the human race. This current stage of the human race is de-evolving due to the fact that the ones with the weakest DNA are generally the poorest, and thus have the most children; also its the intelligent humans of today that have the least offspring, this is diametrically opposed to all of evolution of all life up until modern society has taken root. So it really seems that we have a problem in our society right now if this is true, right? Well, not quite. It turns out that it is very beneficial for the wealthier individuals to have around many people to essentially act as consumers to buy the products of the producers/wealthy/intelligent. It is interesting to ponder that this may be the original cause for our mentality of Right-of-Life and Right-of-Reproduction. *Note* I am definitely not saying that the weakest of society should be killed, but rather they should be encouraged to not produce as much for the benefit of the human race - also, there should be more encouragement for the healthiest individuals in society to reproduce. I think that all of the current science that we have been seeing points towards this hypothesis for the current model and stage of Human Evolution. Is anybody else thinking the same thing?

I never call my home phone (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857943)

It amazes me how technology magically appeared just recently. For instance, I hear that schools should use more technology, as if pencils and paper and mass produced books are not amazing learning tool in their own rights. I hear how no one can remember a telephone number, even though for years we have had these things called address books in which we wrote these things down in specifically because we could not, in general, remember all the information for all the people we knew. In fact the only reason we knew certain phones numbers was because the horrible user interface on the communication technology forced us to waste time memorizing numbers for all of our friends though the repeated dialing of said numbers. The reason many people no longer remember these anachronistic digits is because they are no longer slaves to the machines that force them to repeatedly dial numbers. Now we have a more friendly interfaces. Complaining that we don't know a telephone number is like complaining that we don't know how to use a quill pen, or we no longer know how to set a speed on a record player, or remember to yell gardy loo before emptying our chamber pots into the gutters on the streets below.

The reality is that the human story is all about using tools and technology to free our minds for more abstract purposes. If we can have the facts written in front of us, we are more likely to be able to draw defensible and novel inferences based on those facts. But the lack of importance of memorization comes directly from the work technology, which is really a systematic telling of how to do something, rather than merely memorizing a myriad of facts.

The truly disturbing thing about this story is that much research into cognitive development indicates that memorization is the lowest level of thinking, yet in average daily life memorization is overly prized and most people likely never advance beyond it. Stories like this, likely written to convince the masses that undated skills is unreasonable as the arbitrary skills of the past are always the best, merely perpetuates the myth that thinking is nor required and technology is something that happens once, and then nothing is ever discovered again. I am always very tickled when people say how fast technology is moving. Do we not consider the steam engine of 200 years ago? Or the printing press of 500 years ago? Or how about the stirrup 2000 years ago? All of these were disruptive influences which reduced the necessity of human effort for survival. Each of these offloaded some of our human effort onto machines, both physical and mental. For instance, the Jacquard loom automated not only the act of weaving, but the need to remember to switch our fibers. I am sure that all the skilled weavers who were put out of jobs decried that such a machine would be the end of civilization as we know it. And it thankfully was. I am very happy to have indoor plumbing and not have to pour my feces into the street.

Re:I never call my home phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19858013)

hmm.. you probably don't give out your home phone either.. a bit lonely are we?

What is the big deal? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857985)

Eventually, we will reach the point where we can simply implant a device into our heads and access the information that way. The only thing we have to fear is the "Blue Screen of Death", to be taken literally when that happens.

Re:What is the big deal? (1)

slapmyass (1126391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858203)

That's actually quite scary.

Papyrus Have Taken Over For Our Brains (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858031)

According to a Alexandria School of Business survey released 4000 years ago, the boom in papyrus that store reams of business listings has created a generation incapable of memorizing simple things. In effect, the study argues, these devices have replaced our long-term memory capabilities. 'As many as a third of those surveyed under the age of 30 were unable to recall the amount of items in their store without resorting to their papyrus scrolls. When it came to remembering important dates such as the birthdays of business associates, 87 per cent of those over the age of 50 could remember the details, compared with 40 per cent of those under the age of 30.'

(Our brains adapt to make the most efficient use of our tools. Who would have thought?)

They're barking up the wrong tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19858061)

You could make the same argument about writing. If we never learned to write things down, we would probably have much better memories.

You could make a similar argument about any tool. If we never learned to use tools, we would probably all be stronger and more physically adept.

So, taking the article's logic to its (dumb) conclusion, we should never have come down from the trees. (Douglas Adams explored a similar argument about shoes.)

Would I rather be a tool using, literate person or a stone age person? You'll note that I'm past the age ever attained by most primitive people. I'm healthy. I'm comfortable. I think I'm much better off with my tools. The tools (including reading and writing) extend my capabilities, they don't diminish me.

The real issue is being avoided.... (3, Interesting)

grimdawg (954902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858145)

...by those on both sides of the debate.

Those who would decry technology focus too much on (relatively) meaningless data: "these people who have no desire to remember X do not remember X, whereas in the past, we needed to remember X and we did!" and its ilk.

Those who would defend technology spend their time pointing out the obvious flaws in that argument.

Both sides ignore the important question: will this affect us in other ways?

There are many things I do not NEED to do, but I do them because they benefit me in other ways. I do not NEED to be able to run a mile, or perform pushups, or solve Rubik's Cube or a Crossword. However, I do them because in doing so, I prepare myself for things to come.

Likewise, many everyday activities benefit us in similar ways: kids don't walk to school anymore, but the argument "they don't have to, since we have cars" doesn't hold up - walking has benefits beyond getting us somewhere.

The question is, then, whether our memories ARE getting worse. Certainly we depend less on them for certain types of data. Whether we are replacing this practise with other forms of mental exercise is a more complicated issue: is our use of the cellphone and computer to recall this stuff good practice for using tech down the line? I'll bet those people who can't remember their phone number would score better than the oldies in a 'technology competency' test, on average.

In other words, the issue is, as usual, far more complicated than TFA would have you believe. The data they've used to draw their conclusion is LAUGHABLE, yes, but that doesn't mean their claim is false.

Asimov wrote about this (2, Interesting)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858159)

sort of, in his short story The Feeling of Power [themathlab.com] .

Re:Asimov wrote about this (1)

Lyndsayw (1127971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858189)

Why do we need to remember these minutia of life - details of phone numbers and birthdays? We have cell phones, computers and wearable digital cameras to record all these details. It leaves the brain free for more creative thoughts. One poster used the example of a doctor looking up some facts in a textbox while consulting with the patient. This happens to me and I'm quite happy, in fact reassured. I'm also delighted that my aircraft pilot looks through a printed check list before takeoff. My brain has certainly used computers as a prosthetic for a number of years, and my memory has been compromised as a result of this, but I feel left more space free for creative work. Why does it matter? Yes I am playing Devils Advocate!

and i for one (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19858231)

welcome our new gadget overlords. i look forward to serving under their superior intelligence and memorization abilities and will focus my attention as directed. i just
hope they hold a soft spot in their digital hearts for us as we were the creators (of the first models anyways when we could still remember how to do stuff).
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