How search engines make us feel smarter than we really are

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There are several types of intelligence.

Knowing facts is one.

Being able to think logically is another.

Being creative is another.

Having skills is another.

Being creative is yet another.

Guess which one education focuses on almost entirely.


And don’t forget social and emotional intelligence.

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Of course.

All are teachable skills, yet avoided in academia for the most part.

I know more than one engineer that could benefit from some theater art classes.

Not to mention accountants.


You’ve likely wondered if the internet is having a negative effect on your brain.

No. No I haven’t.

Perhaps you’ve thought this after realizing the world wide web now serves as a trusty resource when gaps in your knowledge appear, and over time it, you’ve thought, maybe it might be making you less knowledgeable overall because you habitually head to Google if you don’t know the answers to something, search, click, read a few lines, and then promptly forget the factoid until the next time you need it.

I really haven’t thought these things at all. Perhaps you have.


I have given up on “knowing facts”, heck I gave up long ago before the search engines. What I do remember is where the resources are. I mean why should I memorize the periodic table (as they so wanted us to do in high school chemistry) when thats why the damn chart is there, so you don’t have to memorize it. Admittedly if you hare going to be working with chemistry enough you will have it memorized but not just cause it is a thing to do for a grade.
And things I tend to need to know now change like now where did microsoft put that in the control panel this time?


What kind of intelligence helps people keep track of things they already said?

(I kid, I kid!)

I like to think of the Internet as a digital mind palace; rather than remembering a specific fact or news item, it’s much easier to make a mental note of where and when I found a story, and a few bits that stick out. That way when I need to retrieve the information, I pretty much have the query ready to go (eg “vaginal yeast bread”).

This kind of short-cutting is how I imagine most people use the Internet, with other analogs being bookmarks and their modern Pinterest-driven counterparts.


Conforming and submitting to the whims of those who are currently in power regardless of facts, logic, skills, creativity, ethics, etc.?


I second that. What idiot - nay - idiot - presumes to believe that Googling supersedes knowledge, wit and intelligence?

What dolt, what fool, what clown, what sot?

Anyone believing that is beyond repair - a simple-minded victim of the modern age.

Go camping in the mountains, 3 days walk from Google access. If you die, you know you are in the aforementioned category, and can prepare your family beforehand with an appropriately worded letter.

If you live, you might just know something useful.

No-one with more than half a wit has ever pretended the internet is our saviour.


MP3 direct download link is bizzusted.

Is: http://063-the-search-effect-matthew-fisher.mp3/
Should be:

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It depends how you think. To some people, knowledge is power, the only form of social power that matters.

The ability to form a rough idea and then quickly find the necessary details (and often somebody else’s already existing implementation) is a major advantage.

The ability to have wikipedia and mountains of other sources at one’s fingertips is a great learning resource. Think of it like a huge library that brings you books open at certain pages on your request.

And minutes of searching in engineering tables (and tens of minutes of searching for the books in one’s mountain-o’-mess of a dead tree library) are shrunk to seconds of querying. And when one is too tired to get up and reach for the book with the references, the web query is still at one’s fingertips, much easier to do, below the threshold of too-tired-to-bother.

I don’t really see any significant downside.


That picture has always bothered me. Just what the hell is that kid holding anyway?

Would perfect recall facilitated by neurally linked external memory make us actually smarter than we really are? And what does ‘really are’ even mean in such circumstances?



Wasn’t he overwriting his childhood memories with encrypted data?

Now I want to watch it. Why isn’t it on Netflix? Is there really a rental market for 20 year old shite SF still?




‘Borrow’ it from ‘⁠ a some friend⁠s’?

[god damn non breaking spaces!]

Ooh! Ooh! I know… [ahem] Read the book, it’s much better. :wink:

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Never used a turn by turn GPS?

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