Do Google Make Us So Stupid?


Photo : Internet Photo : Internet -  Do you find it difficult to answer easy general knowledge questions? DW asked Dean Burnett, a neurologist and author, whether Google was the cause.

Dean Burnett: No, I can't see how this can happen. The main argument that I see in support of this opinion is that we are usually able to remember long essays or poetry and recite them easily, because this is what is taught in school. 

But the ability to remember long texts is not a sign of intelligence, and if you are not able to do it does not mean you are 'stupid'. Intelligence has many cultural and genetic factors and a lot of time comes down to how you use information, not how well you remember it. Google gives us more information than before. So there is an argument that it makes us smarter, gives us more information and makes our brain work to process it.

How does Google affect the human attention span?
It is difficult to answer concretely, because Google does not exist long enough to 'develop' the neurological response to it. So that our system of attention, at the neurophysiological level, is the same. But it seems true that now many people don't spend long time focusing on something like before. The human brain usually prioritizes novelty rather than the level of closeness when it comes to stimulation and fun activities. Google allows you to access new things that are almost unlimited at the touch of a button, so people are far more tempted than ever to find something better than concentrating on what is ahead of them. Technically you can apply this to many other internet sites, like Facebook and Twitter, not just Google.

Are humans more dependent on Google than their brains?
I can see how this can be a problem. Humans may be more likely to immediately ask Google than try to find the answer themselves. But obviously it will vary from person to person. However, processing information like this is only a small part of what our brain does, so it's hard to see how Google can take precedence over the brain in the near future.

How does Google change you?
Google has revolutionized my life in many ways. I am a science writer with fast turnaround, the ability to directly examine which studies say what or if there are published data to support my theory is very important to me and what I do, and the ability to find arguments back and forth etc. I am aware that this is a relatively unusual position.


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