Friday, September 21, 2012

The Flynn Delusion

Der Speigel carries yet another article which revisits the lame debate: “”Is the Internet Really Making Us Dumber?” The article refers to a new book by James Flynn, of “Flynn effect” fame. The way I read him, it seems kids' abilities at some very peculiar forms of abstraction have indeed been improving; but their verbal prowess has been slipping. Which change is more significant?

As Max Weber once warned, responding to this question would involve a value judgment we should be well advised to avoid. The article, however, reminded me of that famous Pew survey of 900 experts from two years back. In it, “three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing, and rendering of knowledge it.” In my mind, this is definitive proof that the internet has made at least the “experts” dumber.