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External memory for the brain.

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posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:04 AM
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Good day ATS,

You may have already read the article "Is Google making us stupid" by Nicholas Carr (if not, I suggest you do..)

Is Google making us stupid

It focuses on the question if the Internet changes your way of thinking. Although this discussion will be continuing for some time, science has learned that the Internet does indeed change our way of learning.

Psychologist Daniel Wegner has shown that people will not absolutely remember information if that information is stored online. Only until we are told explicitly the information will not be stored will we make an effort of storing this information in our memory.

Wegner has conducted a series of test that seem to proof this theory. He had a group of people type up a number of trivia. One group was told the information would be stored and made available, the other group was told the information would not be stored. From both groups he asked half to remember the information they typed.

It seemed that the group that thought the information would still be available didn't remember nearly as much as the group that was told the information would be lost. In other words, the people who knew they couldn't fall back on the information typed up made a much greater effort of storing the information in their memory.

You could conclude that information available on the Internet is not in our head (or at least in a lesser amount) and thus Internet is making us dumber....

But is the conclusion valid?

The brain after all has the tendency to see tools as an extension of the body. Ask any good guitar player...
For a guitar player his guitar (in his brain) is no different than his foot or his arm. It is a part of the body. This not only metaphorically but also very literal apparently...


The almost century-old hypothesis that tool-use induces plastic changes resulting in the tool being incorporated in the body schema is nowadays widely accepted.


Tool-use induces morphological updating of the body schema

Our brain has a sort of roadmap for our body and can add, with ease, a tool to that map like a guitar, a spade or a keyboard.

So could it be that our brain is seeing the Internet as an extension of our memory?

Have great weekend.

Peace
edit on 15-7-2011 by operation mindcrime because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:12 AM
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If blood was the fluid for the body, thought is fluid for the brain.

Of course google is influencing us. This website is influencing you too =P.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:14 AM
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You make a good point there, but I'd like to add it seems to be that even organs can possibly hold memories. My cousin had a heart/lung transplant and will no longer eat chocolate, even though she was obsessed with it before hand.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:16 AM
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Yes for sure, what you have brought up is true.
For many people if you take a way the Internet then they will feel a void in their mind.
If someone loose his hand, foot, toy in the case of children, a guitar like your example, the trauma will be great until the mind will accommodate the lose.
This is why Internet has been allowed to grow to this capacity, it serve the purpose of deflecting your mind from the real power with in(mind).



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:17 AM
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reply to post by operation mindcrime
 





You could conclude that information available on the Internet is not in our head (or at least in a lesser amount) and thus Internet is making us dumber.... But is the conclusion valid?



Yes and no. It is changing the way we think but I don't think it is making it any worse than computers changed math. True that people can't add without a calculator any more but we have calculators and the extra time saved NOT adding can be used doing something else perhaps productive or even memorizing what you need to remember.
As long as the computer is there to get the information off of, it will be no harm to NOT memorize certain information but it might be a problem if the information is crucial (this tends to increase memory skills anyway) and then you can't re-access it. This will happen only once and a person will be auto-trained to think differently and more strategically. .How many things do you really have to know anyway?
You have to exist and live. What you "know" is a little like icing on the cake...imo



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:20 AM
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Originally posted by litterbaux
This website is influencing you too =P.


No doubt about that.


But is it making me dumber because I'm relying on the information to be availible 24/7 online and thus no need for storing it "internally" or am I using this medium as an extension of my body in a correct way?

I mean, books have had the same potentential for centuries and in school I already learned that you do not need to remember everything as long as you know where to find the information....??

Peace



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:20 AM
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Originally posted by kacou
Yes for sure, what you have brought up is true.
For many people if you take a way the Internet then they will feel a void in their mind.
If someone loose his hand, foot, toy in the case of children, a guitar like your example, the trauma will be great until the mind will accommodate the lose.
This is why Internet has been allowed to grow to this capacity, it serve the purpose of deflecting your mind from the real power with in(mind).


Yes this is true...you will be lost. But only for a first couple of days and then you would quickly adjust and learn to think differently and find new ways to occupy your day. That is all we do anyway, find ways to occupy our days here until they are all used up. I could use a nice void. Sounds relaxing.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:22 AM
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Originally posted by BigBruddah
You make a good point there, but I'd like to add it seems to be that even organs can possibly hold memories. My cousin had a heart/lung transplant and will no longer eat chocolate, even though she was obsessed with it before hand.


that is weird. I wonder if anybody has a logical explanation for that.

Peace



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:23 AM
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reply to post by operation mindcrime
 


No, its not making you dumber. Its distracting you.

There is no way to get "dumber" by reading information. Being distracted is almost twice as bad... but masked.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:26 AM
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Originally posted by operation mindcrime

Originally posted by litterbaux
This website is influencing you too =P.


No doubt about that.


But is it making me dumber because I'm relying on the information to be availible 24/7 online and thus no need for storing it "internally" or am I using this medium as an extension of my body in a correct way?

I mean, books have had the same potentential for centuries and in school I already learned that you do not need to remember everything as long as you know where to find the information....??

Peace



I have picked up hundreds of thousands of bits of interesting information and learned more in the past 3 years on the computer than I have learned my whole life, or the other 50 years altogether. Thing is it is a different type knowledge and a different grade of information. Outside of the computer we learn life skills. That should not change but for so many it will. Facts and details. To live well all you need to know is how to stay happy and relax. Not how to fight or learn useless information but how to enjoy and relax. Otherwise why bother? IMO



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:27 AM
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Originally posted by litterbaux
reply to post by operation mindcrime
 


No, its not making you dumber. Its distracting you.

There is no way to get "dumber" by reading information. Being distracted is almost twice as bad... but masked.


Very good point. It is doing that too.
I think it is making people fatter not dumber.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:32 AM
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reply to post by newcovenant
 


I am not talking about a blissful void here, but a void generated by addiction which will bring only trauma and anxiety...here google is on a stick but Facebook also has the same influence.
As for Internet on the purpose of acquiring knowledge this is not addictive, if Internet fail to provide you a certain knowledge then you will seek somewhere else.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:38 AM
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At first I thought the Internet impacted attention span. I still do think so. But its a little more subtle than that.

I have noticed the Internet encourages skimming, scanning, and constant "checking" of other links. There is a kind of feeling often on the net that "maybe there is a better page on the same subject" so you are always kind of virtually looking over your sholder and second-guessing your choice of content. And the volume of available infomation is so large that skimming becomes vital just to get a grip on what's going on. Toss in multimedia, "intereactive expreriences" like ATS, gaming, and social networking and you are in a very chaotic condition.

Now compare that to reading, say, The Rememberence of Things Past by Marcel Proust. Ever read this classic French novel? I picked it because it was, for me, the most boring and difficult-to-finsh of the Great Books that I read. Nine volumes and it's basically about the life of some foppish country aristocrat who does nothing but wander around staring at the trees and sighing and such. There is very little true "content" that has pointed value in the sense of Internet-style information: A skimmer or scanner could boil Proust down to a few sentences and get the "essential information"...but this would miss the entire experience of the book, which is immersive. The object of a writer like Proust is not to take you from point A to point B but rather on a long, rambling, discursive journey with no fixed goals. The reader should "stew himself" in the book, taking time to savor its imagery, to feel the atmosphere it evokes, to notice details of daily life. If that's your cup of tea.

The Internet eviscerates the ability to read like that. Instead you turn yourself into a firehose of information. Personally, I'd rather spend time on ATS than reading Proust, but it's important to realize the way that the Internet takes with one hand and gives with another.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:39 AM
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Originally posted by litterbaux
reply to post by operation mindcrime
 


No, its not making you dumber. Its distracting you.

There is no way to get "dumber" by reading information. Being distracted is almost twice as bad... but masked.


Yeah, I agree but this is more about relying on the fact that information will be availible. Everything we learn is valuable but when you rely on the information being stored you will not store it.

Now when that information stops be availible, doesn't the memory suffer a dramatic decrease?

Peace



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:40 AM
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reply to post by operation mindcrime
 


I use the computer as sort of a big reference library. It is like having a library in the home.
I was really hoping there was a way for humans to store external memory somewhere and access it only when we need it. The computer is the closest we can come to doing just that. Without the computer we might be more in tuned with nature. Since we are destroying "Nature" as quickly as we speak no sense getting ourselves attached to it. We will have computers and biospheres with life inside. We might grow smaller, turn gray and have extra large eyes...
just trying to frighten people...sorry.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 02:50 AM
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The guy who wrote that article makes some interesting points, however I have learned so much from the internet and can remember almost everything I have read! I can understand where he and you are coming from but I don't think you are right!

I do however realize that it all depends on how people use the internet and search engines, but if anything it is making us more intelligent... I agree to his theory if the people he describes are the ones who sit on social networks all day complaining about their lives as they type and tap it out on the keyboard. The diversity of information out there is astounding and if you know how to digest it all a search engine is a powerful knowledge catalyst!



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 09:14 AM
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reply to post by operation mindcrime
 

Yes, I use the internet as an external memory. Having an instantly accessible source of information on everything from obscure Byzantine theological controversies to the perversions of dolphin sex has utterly changed my life.

Does it mean I don’t remember as many things as I used to? Well, I don’t. I’m 53 years old now and my onboard memory isn’t getting any sharper. But I learnt many years ago (many years before the coming of the internet) that it is not so important to know something in detail as it is to remember it in outline and know where to look it up. With the coming of Google, everybody now knows where to look.

People have always told me I have an exceptional memory. And I do, I suppose; I have a head full of ill-assorted facts, can remember things that people did or said years ago without much effort (though how accurate these memories are is another question) and have an ability to remember song lyrics that even I myself find uncanny and slightly disturbing. But on the other hand, I am notoriously forgetful of appointments, dates, the names of people I’ve just been introduced to, where I left my spectacles and what I came upstairs for. So I guess it isn’t so much that my memory is better than other people’s, just that it works differently.

One way or the other, I am grateful to the people who brought me the internet. I don’t know what it does to other people, but I swear it hasn’t made me more stupid or more forgetful. I’m no more stupid now than I always was; as for whether I’m more forgetful or not, well, I had an opinion on that but it has slipped my memory.

*


reply to post by silent thunder
 

A star for a post that is not only intelligent and lucidly argued, but also wise. Wisdom is a rare commodity on ATS. I hope you were able to get to the end of Proust. I’m afraid I wasn’t.

*


reply to post by Theoretician
 


I do however realize that it all depends on how people use the internet and search engines, but if anything it is making us more intelligent... The diversity of information out there is astounding and if you know how to digest it all a search engine is a powerful knowledge catalyst!

A star for you, too. We mustn’t forget that the internet originally began as a way for scientists and technicians to exchange information. It has become monetized and consumerized now, but under all the tawdry commercial window-dressing, its primary function, that of a medium of knowledge transfer, endures. For someone who has learnt the arts of research as part of their higher education, the internet is a marvellous source of knowledge.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 09:43 AM
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Plato (quoting Socrates) commented that writing was the biggest reason for the downfall of intellect. I have to kind of ... disagree. Whatever was lost in terms of memorization was gained a thousandfold in terms of information sharing. This is the same thing.

And yes, I remembered the fact about the old academic making the comment, and thought it was Plato or Socrates, but didn't know for sure until I googled it.



posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 11:54 AM
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reply to post by operation mindcrime
 


Don't have time to read you thread right now, so I'll just respond to the title.

External memory for the brain:

Two people go on a date. You die, the other person doesn't. Your memory lives on.



posted on Jul, 16 2011 @ 11:12 PM
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The lead author of the paper, Dr. Wegener’s colleague Dr. Betsy Sparrow, has gone on record to say that she doesn’t think Google is making people stupid.


I don't think Google is making us stupid – we're just changing the way that we're remembering things... If you can find stuff online even while you're walking down the street these days, then the skill to have, the thing to remember, is where to go to find the information. It's just like it would be with people – the skill to have is to remember who to go see about [particular topics].’ Source

Our use of the internet as an ‘external memory’ is really just the same as knowing whom to ask when you want information about a particular subject, something she calls ‘transactive memory’.



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