Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is the internet making us smarter or dumber?

During happy hour at my local watering hole, I frequently pull out my iPhone and do a bit of random web cruising. Several nights ago this yielded this piece on effects of internet use on our intelligence, suggesting extensive internet use makes us different, but not dumb. The article cites a Pew Study reporting, contra an influential article by Nicholas Carr, that 76 percent of the respondents said they agree that by 2020, "people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information, they become smarter and make better choices. The article also relays the opinions of a number of other futurists.


  1. The thing is... probably more than 76% of responders are into digital technology business so they have every reason to spread positive opinions.

  2. Wasn't there a bump in unnormalized IQ scores when TV appeared? I'd expect the same with computers and the internet.

    OTOH we live in an increasingly complex world where we are expected to make emotional decisions about just about everything because we don't have the time to learn how things really work (and because advertisers find it easier to bias emotional decisions.) This allows us to do a lot of stuff on autopilot that we might have had to actually think about before.

    Smarter and dumber.