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Posted on April 17th, 2014, by

The article Is Google Making Us Stupid? raises an important question concerning the impact of internet on human brain and consciousness. The author views the impact of internet on human brain critically and insists on the negative impact of internet on human brain and lifestyle. However, such a view of the author on internet is rather superficial and subjective than objective and adequate. In fact, the author stands on the ground that changes that occur to human brain under the impact of internet are always negative, although he definitely fails to view those changes in a positive light, while the objective analysis of the impact of internet on human brain and lifestyle requires two-sided view on the issue.

Nicholas Carr, the author of the article, is very skeptical about the impact of internet on human brain and the behavior of individuals. In fact, he tends to view the impact of internet on brain as negative. The author argues that internet leads to the change in the reading style, when thoughtful and attentive reading is replaced by skimming. Therefore, the author insists that readers cannot read texts attentively, instead, they just skim it to obtain key information about it. Hence, Carr insists that such skimming instead of attentive reading leads to the degradation of readers and change in functioning of the brain in terms of the perception of the information.

However, Carr apparently underestimates positive effects of internet on human life and brain. The author fails to reveal the full extent to which internet The reading style is apparently secondary compared to the accessibility of information which has become possible due to internet. Today, people can share information easily and they may obtain virtually any information they need via internet. Hence, internet is a tool, which people can use to obtain the information they are looking for.

Changes that may occur to human mind under the impact of internet are not actually signs of degradation. Instead, they are adaptation factors that help human brain to adapt to the information overload. Internet does not make people stupid. Instead, internet makes people capable to process the larger volume of information in shorter time. People suffer the information overload. Human brain cannot perceive as much information as users can find and have access to in internet. As a result, human brain adapts to the information overload and slips to selective reading or skimming to obtain the key information. However, skimming or selective reading do not necessarily mean the brain degradation as Carr insists. Instead, the change of the reading style does not necessarily lead to the change in perception. Similarly, the author could argue that human brain would degrade after the introduction of computers, television, books, writing, and other achievements of human civilization, which actually accelerated the development of science, technology and society, instead of destroying them as Carr predicts.

Therefore, the author of the article views the impact of internet on human brain in the negative light, while internet may have a positive impact on human brain. If the audience follows the logic of the author, the only plausible conclusion is that no further changes in the way of perception of information have positive impact on human brain. Carr refers to Socrates, who argued that writing has a destructive impact on human knowledge that could be replaced by written text. In fact, Carr just carries on Socrates’ philosophy. If the audience accepted this philosophy, then the human civilization as still living in the ancient world without writing and any other manifestation of progress of human knowledge and science because if its potentially dangerous impact on human brain and lifestyle.

In fact, similar warnings emerged in the time of the rise of the television era, when many critics of television argued that television will have a destructive impact on human mind and psychology. Hence, Carr just slips to Socrates’ fallacy and treats internet as a threat to human mind, while internet is just like writing for ancient people it just opens wider opportunities for sharing and acquisition of knowledge without limiting human brain. In such a way, Carr slips to the view on the progress of human society and technology as a threat to the future of the society. Such a view is paradoxical, taking into consideration all the benefits internet has brought and will bring to the human society. Carr’s logic is erroneous because it views the technological progress as a threat to human brain, individuals and society at large. However, the author fails to understand that the change in the mode of thinking or information processing cannot lead to the degradation of brain or human society.

What does lead to the degradation is the devaluation of humanistic values. In this regard, it is much more important what people read using internet instead of how they read it. However, Carr insists on the contrary that is definitely illogical and absurd in a way.

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