31 July 2009

The Digital Age: Expanding the Frontiers of Ignorance

A recent article in More Intelligent Life got off to a good start: instantaneous access to worlds of information is producing not more intelligent humans but, instead, more and more ignoramuses. The knowledge that all knowledge is at one's fingertips licenses one not to keep any knowledge in one's mind. (Reading and remembering are taxing, after all--and, as with almost everything else--why put forth the effort if it's not necessary?)

But the article concludes with a whimper: everything is pretty much okay, so don't worry; putting forth effort to learn isn't necessary for being an intelligent person.

That is a comforting falsehood.

(On this topic, one might read Mark Bauerlein's sobering book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30).)

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