Is Google Really Making Us Stupid?

Courtesy of Google Images

Sabiniana B. Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

11 March 2013

Is Google Really Making Us Stupid?

We are in the twenty-first century, and this is the Digital Age (also known as Computer Age, or Information Age). In this era, our standards of living are high, and our needs now define how we think, talk, and act. Our necessities are forcing us to multi-task, and we are only coping through the invaluable help of the International Network, commonly known as the Internet.

I had the chance to read this 2005 Atlantic article in my previous English class (last spring of 2012). Since my stand on the subject matter has not changed, and given its significance, I decided to write anew about it, for my e-letter today.

Courtesy of Google Images

In this anti-technology piece, Pulitzer finalist Nicholas Carr accuses the Internet of harming our brains. (1) Carr blames the Net for the changes he sees in his reading comprehension, likewise for his inability to concentrate when reading extensive articles. (2) He argues so passionately that it has led to a book, entitled The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. However, is Carr’s accusation supported by science? Because contrary to his opinion, new scientific evidences are showing Internet is making us smarter and not stupid. (3)

According to Michael Rosenwald, author of the BrainGain “ . . . new evidence suggests that using the Internet could actually make you smarter, and not rot your brain” (4).

Backed by the scientific findings of Dr. Gary Small, of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience for Human Behavior, University of California, Rosenwald stresses that neurologically speaking, we are benefiting from browsing the Web, googling or Google searching, and just as “ . . . bench presses do for our chest muscles” (5).

Courtesy of Google Images

Like Rosenwald, Jonah Lehrer of the New York Times, cited Small’s scientific findings, and pointed out that science even suggested Google searches actually lead to increased activity of our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the exact brain area where precise talents and/or abilities like selective attention and deliberate analysis are working, to which according to Carr have allegedly vanished in this Digital Age.

Personally, I am amazed Pulitzer considered Carr for such accolade, and the award giving body solely based his nomination on this article alone–what a poor nomination! For in these modern days, indeed, our needs demand us to multi-task and that’s for practical reasons. For gone are the days of consecration, and we are no longer at liberty to spend hours “digesting” every word and every line of anything we are reading, simply because we have so much responsibilities.

Carr cited a quite relevant article dated 1960 from Marshall McLuhan. However, with more than five decades passed, is McLuhan’s theory still applicable? For Carr’s citations from the nineteenth-century are now obsolete.

In this regard, I hope we careful examine, if those citations are still applicable these days. Moreover, are there any medical or scientific findings that validate Carr’s arguments? For isn’t it, if one is talking about health, it is just fair for us, readers, to demand experts’ words before we even buy one’s hasty accusations?

In conclusion, Google is not making us stupid. Rather, it encourages us to be resourceful. Most especially, it empowers our fingertips that we now can dig on information and knowledge without carrying heavy books and burning our eyes in extensive reading. Moreover, these days, we only do things that are necessary, because we know that’s the practical way of living. For In this era of Computer Age, we think fast; we talk fast; we read fast, and we act fast, because we simply have to. For in this Digital Age, we think practically; we talk practically; we read practically, and we act practically, because we value our time. Lastly, we are coping with most of our responsibilities through the invaluable help of the Internet—we should really thank science for it!

Lastly, if one is reading slow, perhaps a new pair of reading or prescription glasses is needed. But please, let’s not be ungrateful to technology, because historically, it’s what brought humanity to success. We are the smartest animals on earth, because of our abilities to invent and innovate ways through the use of technology That has not changed to this day. And great things await to thinkers, more so, to positive thinkers.

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21 thoughts on “Is Google Really Making Us Stupid?

  1. I believe I am far more savvy today because of the Internet. I have so many more choices in many arenas today. I can ‘listen in’ to what the people of our world are thinking and doing. I am less isolated, and therefore more informed…
    A great read, Aina… Thank You..


  2. It makes us more resourceful because of its ease of use. In the old days I had to drive to the library. Today, in bed, I can easily and quickly find information in a few minutes that would have taken me hours at a library. Also I have made many cyber friends that share my interests.


  3. Thank you for this article. I am surprised that someone would think that Google was making us stupid. For me, to be able to get specific information in seconds allows me to increase my knowledge of those subjects that are of interest or necessity to me without trudging through volumes of material that may not even contain the information I want or need. I used to buy cookbooks. Not anymore! I Google whatever I want to make and instantly I have about 20 recipes (all excellent) for whatever I want to make. I choose the one I align with the most and cook it. How easy is that? Want to know when the next eclipse will be? New Moon? How to de-worm your cat? At my fingertips. Right now I need to find out how to prune my camellia. Where do you think I’m headed? To buy “Pruning Camellias for Dummies?” Sorry, wrong answer. Thanks again for your perspective on this. Blessings, Alia


    1. No, it’s not wrong, Alia. You are actually supporting and attesting my thesis. I thank for your valuable input.
      Neither, I couldn’t imagine someone would be so negative about the Internet, nor with Google. Again,
      thank you for the visit and the input. Aloha!


  4. Excellent post Aina,thank you for liking my post ( The present time…) blessings and regards.jalal


  5. I am so much more informed because of google! I now have information at my fingertips. An example that comes readily to mind: looking up side effects of medications and learning about other people’s experiences with the meds.


  6. Well said.

    In my view, science trumps opinion. If the science doesn’t support his work, or it takes science from 60 years ago to support it, he’s not being very rigorous in.his research.

    When my daughter asked me yesterday why we say eleven and twelve rather than one teen and two teen, a Google search told us why and opened a good discussion.

    Couldn’t have done that when I was a kid!

    Liked by 1 person

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