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Psychology Professors Are Destroying My Reasoning Skills

Date/Time Permalink: 01/22/12 01:52:27 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Latest moral panic: How Google Search Is Destroying Our Memory. As stupid and predictable as this is, it's the same story that comes around every six months or so, but it will still be front-paged across web media and we'll still be scrolling past it in our RSS feeds by next week.

Hey, once again (again and again and again), I'll be the only one to shoot this down with common sense: Books.

Before there was Google, there were books. Indeed, the number of books I keep on hand has decreased since the advent of Google, and I know I'm not the only one. And the purpose of keeping many books is for research and reference.

So, I guess that's why dictionaries were invented, so we don't have to walk around memorizing the spelling, pronunciation, and definition of every word. And perhaps why telephone books were invented, so you didn't have to memorize every phone number. And why encyclopedia sets used to be a common household fixture, so you could look up facts on a broad range of topics. And why dispatchers had a big city streets atlas pinned to the wall, so they didn't have to memorize every street in town.

Before we kept our external memory on Google, we kept it in books. In fact, Google has done nothing but make all this diverse information faster and easier to re-locate again. It was never common to have all the names of the presidents memorized, except just to show off. Thirty years ago, if asked which was the last US president from the Whig party, I'd flip to the index of a tome and have the answer in one minute (#13 Fillmore). Now I Wiki it and have the answer in twenty seconds. It's the same process, just using different technology!

How come I never used to read magazine articles about how print media is destroying our memory?

I'll tell you why. Because psychology professors are stupider now than they used to be. It's a good enough answer for me. In case anybody Googled it, here you are.

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