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Actual Study Suggests Googling Activates Your Brain, Rather Than Making You Stupid

from the can-we-get-money-back-from-Nick-Carr? dept

Earlier this year, we were among many who debunked Nicholas Carr's somewhat ridiculous assertion that Google somehow made people stupid because it got them used to skimming information rather than sitting down with a big fat book (like the one Carr is trying to sell) and reading through it. Like so many Carr theses, it seems filled with some interesting factoids and connections -- but then jumps to a conclusion that isn't even remotely supported by the rest of the article. Yet, rather than defend or respond to criticisms, Carr has gotten into the habit of only posting the positive reviews of his article and book.

It would be interesting to see, then, how he responded to some actual research that suggests using search engines helps keep the brain active and "exercises" the brain -- which would be rather the opposite of Carr's thesis. Not only that, but the MRI research showed that active internet users tended to have more activity in the region of the brain that controls decision-making and complex reasoning. While it's just one study -- and you can question how widely the results can be applied -- it's at least worth noting that it seems to contradict Carr's basic thesis.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    That study is stupid

    I know, I googled it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    1+1=3

    But that doesn't actually disprove his point. Compare it to people who read instead of "googling" and then you might actually have a valid point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    To be honest, googling something needs more processing power than looking it up in a book. Get a book, check the related chapter, and just start reading until you get what you want.

    To google something efficiently you need to come up with a good search string, then filter the results mentally based on reliability and relevance etc etc...


    Whether one method ends up making you "smarter" than the other is debatable, but I'd argue that on those grounds, using google requires more skill/thought than reading a book.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Woo, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    interwebs r smart.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    But unfortunately you have to find the book which is a filter. You have to filter the book based on reliability and relevance which is another filter.Look for the correct chapter which is another filter. I mean we could go on with this, but the reality is without evidence prooving one or the other it is a mute point. Just like writing countless blogs about IP. It is all just beating a dead horse as someone else said.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    JT, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    I personally think that it would make you a bit more smart. I somewhat agree with the 1+1=3 comment but I also have to ask how many people sit down and read a book on every subject that pops into their mind?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    John Strickland, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Do you remeber being trying to search for something?

    It sucked. Not because the new algorithms are so much better, but because you had no idea what the key ideas/ key words were.

    Understanding that all media have different context for the same words means you need to organize words into contexts and learn words that are used only in specific context.

    But then again I never went to college. So maybe I am just google using retard.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    JT, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    Sorry... Apparently it hasn't made me smart enough to stop me from accidentally tabbing to "submit".

    My point being that search engines open up the ability to quickly harvest information. I don't care what form information comes in, you're still learning something. I'm fairly certain a lot of people, like myself, get more engaged when reading up on a subject on the web as opposed to static text in a book. The fact that many times you can hop around to different angles, read opinions, etc.

    I don't see how it could ever make someone stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    JB, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    I find it interesting that my family and friends request that I perform searches on the web since I seem to find the relevant information faster than they can. I have since taught my wife to effectively produce a search string.

    I see value in both book-smarts and internet-smarts. If you are trying to find information on bleeding-edge technologies, you are more likely to find the information by browsing the index of a book (which is a simplified search through a chosen source.) If you are trying to find information about common knowledge or opinions; an internet search is warranted.

    If current progress is any indication, all current and future publications will have been and will be converted into electronic format. This means that the days of browsing through an ink and paper book will not be necessary as an internet search would point you to the right publisher:author:title:chapter:page:line:word:letter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    A primary problem I see with most of the discussions on this topic, is that they do not define the inherent differences they are attempting to show. Reading does not make you more intelligent, it simply allows you to accumulate more information for reference. That being said, how can they prove that the exercise exerted on the brain during the skimming of a printed material is greater than that of someone using a search engine? Generally when using a search engine, a person is doing exactly the same thing as someone browsing a book, with the exception that there is less "automatic" mental function. When skimming a book you are not "thinking" about everything passing in front of your eyes, your brain is scanning it and disregarding that which is not relevant. That's how our brains work to sort large amounts of information in day to day life.

    Yes, indexed searching requires less skimming than that offered by a full text mental scan, but consider the fact that indexed searching allows for more rapid information acquisition. That in turn allowing a person to do more actual reading on the subject of interest, and possible stimulating more actual information retention in the brain as well as the stimulation of searching.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    Re: 1+1=3

    Not true. Citing the above article "Google somehow made people stupid". That would imply having a negative effect on the brain. The study implies having a positive effect on the brain. What you just said, combined with these two facts, implies that "googling" has a positive effect on the brain, although it may not be as positive as reading.
    As the 1337 HAX0RS say, pwnd.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re:

    moot*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    duplicate link, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    duplicate link

    You seem to be linking to the same page with your first and third links. Perhaps you meant to link to this; Internet use 'good for the Brain' http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7667610.stm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re:

    Moot. The word is moot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    I notice a small problem with what you're saying. Our brains do not "filter out" any information on their own, we in fact tell them to, but as we are telling our brain "that is not relevant, that is not relevant, ...", it is, at the same time, collecting data subconsciously. There is nothing that you perceive, read, hear, etc. that the brain does not store on some level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    That's like saying something taken into RAM is "stored". Yes, experiences and information is taken in, but not everything is actually stored. Our brains do in fact automatically filter out the vast majority of sights, sounds, smells, etc, that come into it. If we were constantly "remembering" everything that was happening around us, we would be overloaded with information. For instance, do you believe you have to actively tell your brain to not remember everything that happens on your drive into work? Every sight, smell, sounds, vehicle color, or person? No, your brain looks for threats, processes things that might be of use in some fashion, and lets you sort through that. If you want to remember more specific details, you have to actually work to condition your brain to store them, not the reverse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re:

    I agree. The mind seeks input, the internet provides the information. I would argue that the internet allows the mind to form its own questions and seek it's own answers. It is like being on a train of thought who's tracks can turn on a dime at the conductor's will.

    A book is only as good as it's author, as is the case for information found on the internet. Hopefully the brain is developed enough to decipher the valuable information from the crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    myself, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:14am

    I think both studies are wrong

    You can not say that searching the web is better than browsing in a book or viceversa. It's maybe a matter of how you look for the information.

    Imagine the internet as a dictionary, or better yet, as an enciclopaedia and you are looking for "the history of cars". While searching the web, I think one needs to be more aware of the information because you can read a lot more information given by a search engine: Writing different words related to the history of cars, will give you different search results. Some non-related and non-repeated. And they're all as close as one click.

    Do the same search in a book. Is more concise and by far, more limited (but by no means, unaccurated or unuseful).

    So, as an exercise, searching the web looks more like a challenge for the brain. But certainly i don't believe it makes you smarter. Just makes more information avaliable, and as we all know, more information is not always for the best.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    astontechno, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    to google eternally

    google is a constant reminder how much we've learned

    in our lives and how we store it in a place that

    google continues to "jog".

    never again we will have the anxiety of not remembering

    water cooler questions are solved instantaneously ô¿ô

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: duplicate link

    Oops. Fixed. Thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Greg, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re:

    Hmmm.. "prooving" and "mute" point? Someone needs a dictionary to filter themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    sarah, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    yea.

    YOUR A G !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Steve Oun, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    yO dOgz....yA a gEEk...u kNo wAt iT iS....sOuTh siDe aLL dAy...iM oUt hErE

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Franklin Castilo, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    uhm

    this is so weird i nevver seem to under stand the storie; mayb you can explain it some more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    yliana portuhondo, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    well i was really into your article..yha awsome :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    im a bitch srry to wirte wat i wrote

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    HEY THIS IS COOL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Sarah, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Re: He is not a Geek he is well inteligent in all ways . mayb your smarts will get you some where unnessary. learn how to spell WHAT! theres no such things as DOGZ* it shaoll be corrected as DOGS baby girl

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Lynn, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    FUCK YOU PAM E FRESH! never as fresh as me hush!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:42am

    STOP HATE N MY G DONT BE MAD CUS YU AINT ME WHT UP ?
    OWWWW

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Lil. Wayne, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    holla at me...New Orleans all day...ya diggz

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    yunqsavaqee, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    yooo diss shxtsz freshh bee yu knoo ayoo pam wuss poppin bee. imma bouta diss yah shxt ooowww

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    WHT UP MY NIGG ASTAR N
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Lynn., Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Nah but forreal meet me at crown.!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    shyquon, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    pam ii lovee you babyy ii wanna qett married ii didnt know you be on this website take down my screen name

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    LYNN., Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    PAM be workin my corner tho nah?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    DENZY, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:47am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    MELSY BABY, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:48am

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    AARON & MELSY TIL WE DIE
    ALL I NEED IN THIS LIFE OF SIN IS ME & AARON _XOXO
    O2:23: 2000 AWW LOVE AT 1ST SIGHT

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    BEE., Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    IM CHILLEN BEE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    letz talk about sex baby, letz talkm about u nd meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! by Cindy O.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    DAMN YU & MELSY GO OUT ?
    GET IT

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    PAM E FRESH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    letz talk about sex baby, letz talkm about u nd meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! by Cindy O.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Deven, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    If anyone can bop me off for one nite; holler at my myspace yo!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    I LOVE MY BABY SHY-QUON IMA GUNNA GOO BUNK CLASS WTH HIM NEXT AHT THEE NERSES GETTIN A EYE CHECK TOGETHER & HESZ APPLYING FA SUM BRACESZ & NEW GEAR

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    AARON THE DICK SUCKER, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    AYO DEVEN BOI IM WILLING TO BOP FOR THE NIGHT IS IT ALRIGHT ??
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Max B, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    yeah its ya boy Max B. im out here. east side all day. u kno where i b at harlem east side wit ma nigga Freaky Zeakey...feelin wavy right now....oooooooooooowwwwwwwwww!!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    PAM E FR3SH, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:54am

    DEVON II GOT A DOO DOO BUTT BHUT IM DOWN FA THEE TRIZZY & DOO A THIING WTH MY TOUNGE YU KNOW HOW II GET DOWN HITT MEE UPP ON AIIM NOW & ILL GIIVE YU A GOOD TIIME ILL SUCK YOUR HOT SPICEY BONER NOW CALL MEE!!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    PAMELA, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    THIS IS THE REAL PAMELA MTR.GAY IM SHOCKED THAT PPL WOULD RITE SUCH BAD THINGS
    I BELEAVE IT WAS AARON WHO WROTE ALL THIS
    & CAN YU PLEASE TELL HIM TO STOP FARTTING CUS ITS STARTING TO SMELL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    What is going on with this thread? Did Techdirt get posted to MySpace or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    buckminster futt, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: brain is not passive

    Research has established the brain is not passive in regards to sensory inputs. Brain researchers wired electrodes to a cat's skull such that when they rang a bell, the auditory signal registered on the animal's brain and was detectable on their instrumentation. The researchers were surprised to discover that when the cat was intensely focused on stalking prey, ringing the bell did not register on the cat's brain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Natalie, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    I like Rolando a lot like ill marry him and like to have rolanditos wit him...he could do me harD!!!oh yess

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    sexy nayadet, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    idk

    hello poeple .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Tabasco, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    ayoo Jimby

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Re:

    hi Tabasc-hoe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Tabasco, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re:

    your the skank. you dirty Trollop. go makee baybees with okihc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    B Fresh, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    uzs areeee gayyyy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    B Fresh, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    You sztinkyy punk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    My names manny, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    I love bannanas (choclate bannanas)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Tabasco, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    whatev eoh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    "B fresh"?


    loserrr.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Im NOT Manny, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    CRANBERRRYYYY JUICEEEEEEEEEEEEE

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Tabasco, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    ayoo Manny do you like my bananas?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    i bet her bananas are bruised...ewwwwy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    I might be Manny hmmmm...., Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    SzE SzELLS SzESHELSS BY THA SzEE SzTORE

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Tabasco, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:24am

    well notaskank. We all know who bruised your bananas. OKIHC

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    I think im manny, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    I want your sloppy meat in my mouth

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    ihateyou.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    I am Manny, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Who wants to fuck me in the butt maybe you Skank or the tabasco girl hehehehe m

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    ill pass. nasty asses

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    notaskank, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    ill pass. nasty asses

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    POKeMON Trainer (im not Manny i tiold you already), Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    PIKACHUUUUU (shcokey shockey shock)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Trollop B0y, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    ay who the hell is manny, y u niggas talking bout him n y does he wanna take sumthing up his butt??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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