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Technologies That Are Making Us Dumber

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posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:00 AM
Greetings, ATS!

Discovery News reports that some of our society's most prized gadgets are actually making us dumber.

I believe it.

The list of "dumbing down" gadgets include smart phones, calculators, spell check, gps devices, and search engines.

For example, lets look at the calculator.

Now, when I was in school (way back in the day) calculators were strictly verboten. If we were caught using a calculator, it was considered cheating. Our teachers often told us, "What would happen if you had to answer a math problem and you didn't have a calculator?" We were required to understand the math process, to know how to work the problem "long hand"...then we learned how to use the calculator.

Now calculators are everywhere, and I've actually found myself having to stop and think a moment to recall a basic multiplication fact. 7 x 8? No calculator? Gotta give me a minute.....

Search Engines

The Internet puts at our fingertips the single greatest archive of information ever assembled in human history. Having that volume of information available has affected our focus, and is leading us to increasingly become unfocused and superficial thinkers, according to research.

This constant distraction changes the way we think by encouraging information to be little more than a fleeting short-term memory. Instead of retaining new details, our brains process the info and move on to the next tidbit.

Not much to say here...the quote speaks for itself.

There's no definitive research that indicates that smart phones are making us dumber....but there's no doubt they contribute to the same issues as the search engine problem. Since our smart phones usurp short term memory and processing speed, what will be their long term effect? No one knows yet, it seems.

Spell Check: My Personal Demon

But auto correct is not helping us. It's been shown to affect the ability of adults to correctly spell words consistently, according to a study of 2,000 adults reported in BBC News.

The upside is that the same survey found that 96 percent of adults claimed proper spelling was important.

Since I've been using a computer and other technology that automatically corrects my misspelled words (or substitutes other words in their place, much to my embarrassment), my spelling ability has definitely suffered.
As a teacher, this can be quite embarrassing, but since I teach first grade, most of the kids don't notice when I goof a word like photosynthesis. When they DO notice, they get kudos from me.

Anyone else noticing a decline in spelling ability since the advent of spell check?

Finally, and I find this the most interesting assertion of all.... apparently multi-tasking is making us dumber as well.

A study published in 2010 by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that multitasking caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking (illegal substance), as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Eleven hundred workers at a British company participated in the research, which also found that sleep-deprived employees were more intelligent than their multitasking peers.

Multitasking reportedly temporarily reduced the IQ of the study participants by 10 points. Women, however, proved better able to multitask than men. Still, however, the loss in IQ points was on average three times greater than those (smoking illegal substance)..
(words replaced to stay with T&C)

So there you have it, my friends....could our gadgets actually make us dumber? What do you think?

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:24 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl

Yep definitely making us dumber.

I've long held the belief that Maths should be taught without calculators and English Language without computers.

I also think basic cooking skills should be taught. But that's another topic. Unless the fast food drive thru is considered Technology.

edit on 21-3-2013 by BritofTexas because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:36 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl

One morning at work, I sent a technician (25 years old) to a job site that he had been to numerous times (at least twenty times). The place was about thirty miles from our office.

About 30 minutes after he left the office he gave me a call. He couldn't find the job site, and needed me to tell him the directions over the phone. The reason he couldn't find the place that he had been to many times before... He had left his smart phone that had a GPS app at home. Without GPS, he was helpless and couldn't find a place that he had driven to so many times before.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:40 AM
i've thought this for a very long time and it's unnervingly true.. admittedly i've recently been teaching my daughter cursive handwriting and the amount of letters i had to google because of not remembering how to write them was disturbing! talk about embarrassment! in my defense though, i'm a guy.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:50 AM
reply to post by n3mesis

I've seen some of the handwriting of today kids and it's what would have been called very poor back when I was going to school. Guess I'm old fashioned and still believe that someone should be able to read my hand writing without me around to translate.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:54 AM
reply to post by butcherguy

I wonder if there will come a day when you can't even find an address on a house due to GPS, or as has been pointed out spell, do a math problem, or ponder a question that does not have an instant answer attached to it. We are lazy aren't we? Technology has a goal (one goal) to make life easier but my question is not how it's making us dumber (because of increased ability to access info could be opposite) but how it's hurting us physically. Carpol tunnel, less large muscle movement, eyes looking at bright screens, waves running through the brain when om the smart phone, back issues due to sitting 12 hours a day, etc.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:56 AM
I'm irritated by poor spelling and seeing folks struggle to handle simple arithmetic but I cant come to the conclusion that these gadgets are making us dumber.

It's kind of like blaming the wheel for making us lazy.

Relying on a crutch will weaken a man but it isn't the crutches fault.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 07:57 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl

By the way, and if I'm on topic just delete me but what happened? How did we get to where we are from black and white tv and operators to connect phone calls 40 years ago. Doesn't it seem strange that all of this knowledge came about in less than 1 generation?

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Originally posted by Dianec
reply to post by smyleegrl

By the way, and if I'm on topic just delete me but what happened? How did we get to where we are from black and white tv and operators to connect phone calls 40 years ago. Doesn't it seem strange that all of this knowledge came about in less than 1 generation?

The change in technology increases faster all the time.

Ten years from now should show us incredible wonders. But why are men still stuck in low earth orbit, when we walked on the moon over 40 years ago???

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:02 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl
If I had my way there would be no hand held devices allowed in the classroom until the kids reach higher level classes. When I was in school the only classes we were allowed to use calculators in were Trigonometry and Calculus. Nowadays kids are being encouraged to bring their tablets and other "smart" devices that basically do their classwork for them. Why use the library's reference section and card catalog when you can Google search everything? If the internet ever goes down we are in serious trouble because the children ARE our future- and most can't do anything without a handheld device to give them the answers!

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:06 AM
Technology is making us more dependent on technology. We have begun to trust it too much. Like any tool the question to ask is do we really need it.

I have nailguns but I don't take out the roof nailer to shingle a small shed roof, the setup and tear down time makes it inefficient. The hose becomes more of a problem with safety than it is worth. Do we need a calculator to add a few numbers together? Do we need all those options on an I-phone. It takes up braincells just to memorize sequences to use all the complex technology we have. This takes away from being able to analyze what we see around us.

Too much knowledge blinds us, it makes our ability to see out of the box nearly impossible. To properly evaluate all this we need to be looking at all the boxes around us and the boxes that fill those boxes we see. Science even knows what part of the brain causes this box to be formed and are researching how to get us to think outside of the box better. Hopefully they will perfect this. Then we can all stand back and say "What the hell were we thinking when we were in that box" Our reliance on Computers and technology can reinforce boxes so we can't break out. We are loosing our desire to learn how to figure out things for ourselves using the knowledge and just become parrots that repeat things we know.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:10 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl

Technologies That Are Making Us Dumber

All undoubtedly true. Whereas prior to all this technology humans had to use their brains... all we have to do today is to learn how to push a few buttons or click a mouse.

There's an old joke in my age group about how kids today would react if faced with a TV set that got only 3 or 4 channels and to change those channels, they had to actually gut up, walk to that TV and turn a knob.


At this point, the next question comes when considering what would happen if, gawd forbid, one day we woke with no cell service, no internet and no electricity. You know... maybe a solar flare or somebody in the marbled halls of power just wanted to shut us all up for a spell.

What would we do? What COULD we do?

Nothing. The entire mechanism of our digital society would not just grind to a halt over a period of day... it would stop in an instant.

We are not only dependent on this imperfect infrastructure for things that make our little lives go 'round, but we lean on it for thinking for us as well.
How long will the power be out? Hmmm... let's see. we need a calculator and the battery is dead. One plus one equals... damn!

The technologies are aiding us in our decline but, since they are our creations, it's probably more correct to say that WE are making us dumber, lol!


posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:11 AM
reply to post by smyleegrl

GPS without a doubt. I have friends who follow their GPS, even on roads theyve been on a hundred times.

I called a friend who was taking a while and asked where he was. He was on some crazy back road. I was like bro, youve taken that route a zillion times and hes all like yah but the GPS told me to...

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:20 AM

Originally posted by smyleegrl
A study published in 2010 by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that multitasking caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking (illegal substance), as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

A few seconds of research finds that the Chicago Tribune got the date wrong, it was 2005.

And the research itself is rather obvious in its results...
1. Take an IQ test.
2. Take an IQ test while also distracted by e-mails and telephones.

Not at all surprisingly, you do worse on the test while being distracted.
This does NOT result in you having a lower IQ once you walk away from the phone.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:24 AM
From my personal experience technology has made me smarter. I say that I've been using computers on an almost hourly basis for the past 5 years now. Growing up I only ever used one in the library or at school because we couldn't afford it.

I was the type of kid that wouldn't pick up a book if you put a gun to my head. I couldn't care less about education or the world around me. Nowadays, try to catch me not reading articles on subjects/topics I'm new to, try to introduce me to a new word that I'm not interested in learning, or try to find me not writing music or poetry. My brain has been working non-stop since I got hooked on technology. Information is at my fingertips, I love it. My spelling has improved greatly, so has my grammar.

As for math, I couldn't care less about anything outside of the basics. I'm not aiming for a profession that requires algebra, geometry, or trigonometry. I can and should refresh myself on basic rules of math, because I'd probably be a little lost if you asked me something right at this moment, but that's due to not paying attention in math classes.

For the most part I agree that tech is making people "slow," as for it applying to me, no.
edit on 21-3-2013 by FidelityMusic because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:28 AM
I like my GPS, but if it's powers down it's no loss to me I know my way around and I know how to find my way around. Was doing it long time be for I ever had one. Even now the wife and I still like a good map in the car just in case we get a little lost.

The most use I think I've gotten out of GPS is finding some place nice to eat while out and about.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 09:00 AM
It's our individual choice on how to use the tools in front of us.

Got rid of my smart phone two years ago and went back to a flip phone (but do have a tablet/laptop).

Still try to do math myself first.

Try to correct my spelling first before using the suggestions (don't use auto-correct)... and when getting the suggestion make a note of what I had done incorrectly. My spelling ability has *increased* due to the technology.

I benefit greatly from GPS navigation when in a new area (currently travelling and the GPS is a god send)... but use it to learn how to get around not just be led around. Once I know I don't "plug it in" anymore. In my home town (major city in Texas) I have no GPS and honestly google maps via the web browser on the flip phone still works well enough if I do get lost.

It's the same argument as guns don't kill people. Technology doesn't make people dumber... people do.

I'm not smarter than anyone else... I'm just doing it the hard way (at first... much easier in the long run) for the same reason you don't get stronger building a machine to lift your weights for you. That said... I won't be afraid of using technology if the weight needing lifting is several tons.

I say all this in the same tone as when I spontaneously just stopped watching TV 18 years ago... water instead of sodas 13 years ago, etc. Something inside of me just "felt right and did it" so I don't really claim any credit for it... but I won't shy away from reporting the positive effects.

I'm typically the navigator despite everyone else's GPS.
edit on 21-3-2013 by ErgoTheConclusion because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 10:52 AM
out of the 7 things listed in the article for the most part only ONE really seems to be valid, and that is not so much to do with technology in and of itself. so i am finding myself in doubt to the conclusions.

first up is gps, and blaming it in essence of making us lazy thinkers when it comes to navigation which they purpose if not "shrinks grey matter that it interferes with growing grey matter".

To find our way around, humans use one of two strategies, as reported by NBC News: spatial navigation memory, in which we use maps developed in our brains using visual cues, and stimulus response, which is essentially just following directions that are either memorized or presented as needed.

those who actively use their spatial memory will have higher volumes of gray matter in their brains. London cab drivers, for example, have a larger hippocampus than other people, according to a study of brain scans published in 2000.

yet it presumes that we always use the gps even to go say to and from work. the only time i use my gps and have noticed friends doing the same. is to use it to get to places that are either new and we have not been before, or for places we rarely go. as well as to get around traffic issues such as construction or road closures in areas we are unfamiliar with. or even using it to see if there is a shorter way somewhere. heck i rarely even have mine out of the console unless i need to find where i am going. the alternative is either written directions which take both the eyes off the road an taking most of the concentration away from actual driving that can lead to accidents for extended time periods. the other is using an old style map which again takes your eyes and concentration off the road for extended periods as first you have to FIND where you are then FIND where you want to go. using a gps makes drivers much safer as since it tells you where you are at and any upcoming turns and things you will need to do (normally including things like how long till or even approximate time till), all at a glance, in an instant and not to mention the voice feature which gives prior warnings of things so you don't even need to look at it often. also in most cases it is on the windshield that still allows your peripheral vision even for that instant to take in information like braking going on, unlike reading written directions or a map which normally have you looking down at your lap instead of still looking towards the windshield. as far as i'm concerned a windshield mount gps should be required safety equipment on cars. it doesn't make you "dumber" it makes you safer for all those around you.

next up is the EVIL calculator. always blamed on causing poor math skills. perhaps in SOME cases this is true. yet for many of us it LETS us do math without wasting a heck of a lot of time and paper to figure out a question. the important thing is to KNOW HOW to get the answers. sorry but some of us DO need to count fingers to add or subtract. we are NOT STUPID we just don't have the ABILITY that others are blessed with of memorizing it all. yet we might have others. for example for me to do things like multiplication and division without a calculator for the most part i need to make columns or charts. lets take 8x6, without a calculator i would make a column that would look something like this; 8,16,24.32,40,48, adding on my fingers or using "tic marks" on the paper for each place. yet aside form having to resort to arcane notations like that and using my fingers, and brain i was able to deal with mixed fractions virtually in my head. i was fast enough, and good enough that this actually caused yet another accusation of CHEATING on a test that required a meeting with my parents and principle. especially since all my "arcane" markings given for how i came to the conclusion, (another requirement on the test was to show all work), made no sense at all to the teacher the corrupt BUM HOLE that he was, decided that OBVIOUSLY i had copied the answers. i actually won that battle as in the meeting my father recommended that the teacher make up some questions for me to do. not only did i get them all correct with the same "arcane" markings on the work paper. i did them a lot faster then the teacher could while he worked them out himself to see if my answers were correct. kinda hard for he principle to object when my work was on the paper and not only did i get them all correct but was faster than the teacher was.

a calculator is a good TOOL to use it doesn't make you dumber it just lets you be faster, and possibly more accurate as doing it without could let errors go in without knowing. which could cause all sorts of problems depending on what it is you are using the math for.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:03 AM
The calculator is the biggest dumber down there is.
I home schooled my child until a few months ago.
Expecting him to be a bit 'thick' he was put in set 2 for math.
However, when all the other children were using calculators he used mental arithmetic and finished his math just ahead of the children using calculators and the teacher doing the same.

Naturally, he had some experience of calculators for 'checking' his work after he had finished the math I taught him but the children he works with at school cannot work their math problems without a calculator.

Now that is not so much poor teaching but poor curriculum that children should ever be allowed to use the calculator when doing math. He is 15 by the way so we're not talking about simple math here.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 11:07 AM
I don't know If we get dumber, but for sure we are loosing our awareness. We are loosing our ability to process informations taken directly from our surrounding and we are replacing them with answers found instantly "on the net"

edit on 21-3-2013 by jazzgul because: grammar

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