Is the internet making us dumber?
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April 1st, 2013 (09:37 PM). Edited April 1st, 2013 by Kanzler.
Join Date: Jul 2008
Everybody requires critical thinking to make use of any source of knowledge effectively. The internet is probably the best source of knowledge, just simply from its sheer size and scale, and I accept that. Upon the condition that there is unreliable information, I would argue that if you consider the internet as a whole, there will be both radical and moderate expressions of opinions on both sides of an argument, whereas if you take any one source, it will be biased in one way unless you're reading some document that is either scientific, or written by an author for an educational and enlightening purpose so they made sure to add lots of counterexamples. So the internet, taken as a whole - like democracy at its core, which is not simply voting but the openness of opinion and the determination of the public good through debate, is fair. The internet is a very open and democratic institution, as we can demonstrate with our usage of this forum medium itself - how meta. Yes I am trying to slip in a cheap appeal to DEMOCRACY, but my points stands in that you can access expert opinion on both sides of the story.
On a more serious note, even misinformation can be valuable because it can show you just what exactly gets confused - because I feel that when it comes to certain facts or information, only some of it gets confused and not all of it - but anybody who disagrees to this please point out why, because I am totally on the limb of assumption as of this point. Anyways, if it is true that only part of the message gets confused and not all of it, then it can be very useful to us in that we can learn which aspects of any issue is most significant and as well why.
For example, it is a well cited "fact", circulated in no small part by the internet, that 1 in 4 college girls get raped. You would call this misinformation. But we can make positives out of a negative situation and ask ourselves "okay just why is this 'fact' presented as the way it is", and "who could be behind this". And of course the internet will supply a critique of this factoid like no other medium can. To me, this is what the internet so powerful. In fact, I did come up this factoid and resolve its whatthef***ery all within 2 hours yesterday night XD
If we take the case of a person who cannot use critical thinking properly and uses the internet poorly, we cannot blame the internet, for it is a only a tool and not making judgements itself. I recently learned (this happened a few years ago) that a book by John Green was considered to be entered into the English curriculum of an Ohio school district just to have it smacked down by ultraconservative-like elements for its sexual content and profanity, which to them made it pornography. Although teenagers are stupid, they are not that stupid, and are in fact in school for the purpose of developing their critical thinking skills in order not to use the internet as you fear they will. So the moral of the story is that it comes down to a person's own skill and judgement to use any knowledge effectively, and this should not belittle the value of said knowledge in any way.
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