Is Google Making us Stupid?

Here’s an interesting article by Nicholas Carr. His opinion is that Google does make us more stupid.

An article about Carr’s article is here with many opinions against what Carr believes.

This is a topic I’ve given a little thought to recently in regard to digital media, not only Google. I especially have wondered about what it may be doing to my intelligence when typing a mathematical question into Google or lazily typing and constantly using spell-check without caring to know how a word is correctly spelled–but I am daily learning so much as well, am I not?

I think a person’s own concentration and drive, or lack-thereof will be the determining factor to whether or not he or she will become smarter or more stupid when using digital media and that it has little to do with reading on a computer screen versus reading a book. It’s the people who make the difference–not the source of information. What will one look up and how will he or she choose to process it?

Below are a few quotes from the second article I especially find true:

“It’s a mistake to treat intelligence as an undifferentiated whole. No doubt we will become worse at doing some things (‘more stupid’) requiring rote memory of information that is now available though Google. But with this capacity freed, we may (and probably will) be capable of more advanced integration and evaluation of information (‘more intelligent’).” — Stephen Downes, National Research Council, Canada

Technology isn’t the problem here. It is people’s inherent character traits. The internet and search engines just enable people to be more of what they already are. If they are motivated to learn and shrewd, they will use new tools to explore in exciting new ways. If they are lazy or incapable of concentrating, they will find new ways to be distracted and goof off.

“Google isn’t making us stupid — but it is making many of us intellectually lazy. This has already become a big problem in university classrooms. For my undergrad majors in Communication Studies, Google may take over the hard work involved in finding good source material for written assignments. Unless pushed in the right direction, students will opt for the top 10 or 15 hits as their research strategy. And it’s the students most in need of research training who are the least likely to avail themselves of more sophisticated tools like Google Scholar. Like other major technologies, Google’s search functionality won’t push the human intellect in one predetermined direction. It will reinforce certain dispositions in the end-user: stronger intellects will use Google as a creative tool, while others will let Google do the thinking for them.” — David Ellis, York University, Toronto

“The problem isn’t Google; it’s what Google helps us find. For some, Google will let them find useless content that does not challenge their minds. But for others, Google will lead them to expect answers to questions, to explore the world, to see and think for themselves.” — Esther Dyson, longtime internet expert and investor

I usually use digital media and read books in a way which makes me smarter but sometimes let myself get lazy and use Google and other information resources as a crutch. Google makes it easy to remain stupid and lazy while appearing smart, and that’s quite unfortunate.

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