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Is the Internet making us stupid?


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Really, the above question is a subset of a question I was posing myself earlier; namely, why are there so many stupid people?

I use the term reflectively. I don't mean people of low intelligence. I mean stupid., I'm not even talking about barbarous third world crapholes with no education systems and fantastical religious beliefs either. I'm talking flat out stupid.

All those idiots who 'protect' their children from vaccines would fall into this group. So would all the users of homeopathic medicine, which the Ontario government (always filled with stupidity) has decided to license. Homeopathy, in case you were wondering, is a nonsensical jumble of completely unscientific health cures which doctors and scientists laugh their asses off over.

My supermarket has a whole aisle devoted to a wild collection of vitamins and mysterious herbs or minerals with odd names reputed to have great powers of healing and protection. Recently, you might recall, scientists came out and basically said vitamins were a complete waste of time for almost everyone. No one much cares.

There seems to be a deep and growing sense of utter disbelief and cynicism at what anyone in authority has to say, be they doctors scientists, politicians or police and a predilection to believe the ravings of lunatics on the internet.

15% of Americans believe their own government blew up the World Trade Centre, and that rises to 24% of those under 25 - those most exposed to the internet. Canadians are no better. 22% believe the US government blew up WTC.

Other popular conspiracy theories include princess diana being murdered, he iraq war being about stealing their oil, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting being a hoax,and the Boston Bombing being a false flag operation. You won't have to go look under a rock to find people who believe in some or most of this, either. There are people on this site who believe many of the above is or could be true.

This willingness to embrace stupidity is widespread, and seems to hang on the idea that authority figures are inherently untruthful, and 'independent' people on the internet are more likely to be honest.

I was reading a story this morning about a biker in the UK who was pulled over for doing 148mph. There was video taken from the pursuing police bike, and the biker has been convicted, fined and banned. So what were the comments? Mostly a lot of people arguing that it didn't seem to them like the bikes were traveling that fast, and analyzing how fast the white lines went by, and discussing how police can't be trusted, etc. etc. Instead of seeing very clearly that the guy was racing, what they were doing was looking for a way to disprove what the police said. Even though there really wasn't any motive for the police to lie and even though the video made the man's guilt clear.

I see this with all manner of stories in the media, especially those on the government, on government decisions and programs, and in fact, here, with people suggesting Stephen Harper's new law will take away our freedom, or suggesting some dark, ulterior motive in almost everything the government does.

And it all comes from the internet, from the mass of nutty sites and crazy people who have formed this giant, amorphous information tool which does not seem to differentiate much between reliable information, coming from experts in various fields, and the nonsensical ravings of lunatics and paranoids. With more and more people relying on the internet for their view of the world and reality, what kind of a collection of misfits are we turning into, where critical thinking is absent in the face of colorful diagrams and breathless narrative?

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I have written about this before as well.

My belief is that the internet has given stupid people more avenues to share stupid ideas with each other.

It used to be that means of mass communication were mostly controlled by people with some minimal level of sanity. A publisher might have received lots of submissions, but most of them-- especially the kookiest-- would never see print. This sort of thing. There was sort of a gatekeeper function, for good and bad. But now that anybody with a computer, some free software, and an internet connection can reach a mass audience if they're savvy enough about marketing their ideas. That gatekeeper function is gone. It's a free-for-all, and it's not the best ideas that spread the fastest, it's the most popular. And as we've seen in movies, books, music, television, and any other medium, popularity and quality don't always correlate.

People are now faced with an onslaught of ideas as never before in human history, and many people do not have the basic literacy in science, logic, and critical thinking skills to deal with it.

-k

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Kimmy I think part of the push back on MSM is they are controlled via political interests and big corp sponsors. The gatekeeper method was in place to prevent certain material from getting out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpw-n4TFf_M

For the most part the MSM may tell the story, but they leave out specific points that would trash the whole angle of the piece that was being written. IN most cases now it's not even reporters or real journalists doing news. Any alphabet network gets much of it's news via wire services like AP and Reuters. Do they verify those stories at all? I've seen so many articles over the last year touted as real news, but ends up to be some kind of psychological experiment. Fake news feeds in Facebook for example was used to garner peoples reactions.

So not even the traditional gatekeepers are doing their job anymore. In the USA I believe that some reports now are being written and posted by computers and a certain AI. So now you no longer have people as journalists, you have computers. And I would suggest that the only people doing any kind of investigative journalism these days are the independents who do not have corporate/political/economic influence.

So, is the Internet making us stupid? Did TV make you dumb? The Internet allows for two way dialogue between anyone. Traditional media still has a very controlled method for releasing information.

Let's throw in Wikileaks. This is the stuff the media should be reporting on, but there was a pointed campaign to show Assange as a rapist. Paying little attention to the stuff that is being posted via Wikileaks. Put Snowden in the same boat. Assange and Snowden have been trashed publicly and on this board. All they wanted to do was to show how our governments do not always have our best interests in mind. But the 'natural' (aka conditioned) reaction is to go with the authoritative narrative from government that is lying right to your face. That's kind of stupid to me.

Another thing I mentioned is how articles are written. Sometimes one paragraph contradicts another, but worded in a way that they both seem to compliment each other. This is also making people stupid. Reading comprehension goes out the door. Most of those articles are just terrible and wreck my brain because of the blatant contradictions. It's not journalism or news in anyway. It's all infotainment passed off as real news. And this is why people are stupid.

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Argus, I don't agree with your view on homeopathic views. Some people can't take mainstream medication because of side effects. All man-made medications all start out as natural substances then they add their to the mix. Statins, that most doctors give out like candy, will over time do damage to your heart and its recommended that Q10 be taken with it because the statins completes Q10 in ones body. Well, I couldn't take statins after 5 different ones tested, it attacks the muscles in ones body, so I do it the natural way. BTW, I don't think the internet makes us stupid, it all depends on how ones uses it.

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Argus, I don't agree with your view on homeopathic views. Some people can't take mainstream medication because of side effects. All man-made medications all start out as natural substances then they add their to the mix. Statins, that most doctors give out like candy, will over time do damage to your heart and its recommended that Q10 be taken with it because the statins completes Q10 in ones body. Well, I couldn't take statins after 5 different ones tested, it attacks the muscles in ones body, so I do it the natural way. BTW, I don't think the internet makes us stupid, it all depends on how ones uses it.

I think that quoting Global Research as if it were a credible source is the kind of thing he's talking about actually. Beleiving something that has no validity and parroting it as if it does is doing everyone a disservice (wasting the time of those that know better, and giving incorrect information to people that don't). Similarly, belief in homeopathic medicines, most of which have zero scientific credibility is nonsensical. Just because modern medication can be damaging, it doesn't mean something else that does nothing is better.

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There is some aspect of this situation related to the arrival of social media, and the homogenization of morals, beliefs and knowledge. It's pretty difficult to assess things like stupidity over time.

It seems to me that people are probably getting less stupid, but as Kimmy suggests they're just more visible.

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We can't ignore the benefits of the Internet. Communications and social media with individuals from any locale in this world that supports the Internet. That's one of the biggest benefits.

Research by students, professionals and others educates individuals so they are less ignorant

Entertainment with games, videos etc and being able to play on a virtual team is a blast.

I think these benefits among others negates the opinion that the Internet Is making us stupid.

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I use the internet a lot and I quite enjoy having such a bulk of information available at my fingertips. As has been discussed on a different thread here that is hot right now (WTC building collapse) there is also a lot of bad info available so sometimes you have to do research on the research or you could be sucked into some stupid ideas. What I do believe is making some of us stupid, and me a bit crazy, is people tripping over bumps i the sidewalk because they cant get their face out of their GD Ipad long enough to make it from the bus stop to their house. And I say stupid because there are studies that show people, especially younger ones who seem to be the most hooked on this crap, are losing various skills such basic spelling, vocabulary, communication, and of course just sitting around contributes to obesity which seems to be on a steep incline these days. I am grateful I dont have any teenage kids I would have to try and shepard through that phase.

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Mistrusting the Government is not inherently stupid. Especially in the face of an overwhelming pattern of half-baked legislation built on hyper-partisanship. I would posit an accompanying notion: Why is it that despite the wealth of information about things that are happening right out in the open so many people seem so willfully blind to them?

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Nothing wrong with homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is more than vitamins.

Well vitamins are really nothing more than placebos but, unlike homeopathic medicine, vitamins actually contain a substance which has biological effects. homeopathic medicine is pure placebo with no actual medicine.
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Really, the above question is a subset of a question I was posing myself earlier; namely, why are there so many stupid people?

I use the term reflectively.

Recall Kim Jung II reflecting on the same question in that puppet flick Team America. Personally though I think you like many use the term more reflexively myself.

It's doubtful people in general are getting stupider, but I'd argue that many of the institutions that people form and build are. I think the polarizing effect of places like this forum and other venues of human discourse do more to cause people to write off others and their opinions as stupid, often without even thinking about it.

There's little doubt the Internet is a very anarchic place, something I don't necessarily view as being a bad thing. If anything ever causes people to evolve better bullshit detectors it'll be the Internet. The path to enlightenment doesn't always have to be painful...but the likelihood this will be one of those times seems remote.

Edited by eyeball
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Yes, the Internet certainly makes some of us stupid. You see it everywhere on opinion boards except on this one where everybody is smart. Well, most everybody is smart. Then again, a few are smart. Well I know I am smart and not sure about you. :P

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My belief is that the internet has given stupid people more avenues to share stupid ideas with each other.

...

. It's a free-for-all, and it's not the best ideas that spread the fastest, it's the most popular. And as we've seen in movies, books, music, television, and any other medium, popularity and quality don't always correlate.

People are now faced with an onslaught of ideas as never before in human history, and many people do not have the basic literacy in science, logic, and critical thinking skills to deal with it.

Fair enough point. However, stupid people would still be stupid without the internet. If this were 1985, Jenny McCarthy would still be on talk shows and Larry King Live talking about how vaccines gave her kid autism. 9/11 conspiracies would exist the same as they did for the moon landing and JFK's shooting. There's more discussion about everything now, for the stupid and the smarter people. That includes yes stupid people sharing more stupid info. At the same time, it's much easier for logical folks to refute stupid people with a quick google search. It's also much easier for folks to look up whether or not Jenny McCarthy's vaccine claims are accurate or not.

Meanwhile, the non-idiots are educating themselves like no other time in human history and overall this is great. But one of the biggest problems is that the sources for this knowledge can be dubious. Wikipedia can be inaccurate, other websites are amateurish, and the majority of scholarly research and knowledge is still inaccessible online from home/work (in the form of academic journal articles) without paying through the nose unless you're currently enrolled in university.

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The echo chambers of stupidity they find on the internet reinforces their own stupidity, MG. You wouldn't get that years ago. It would be incredibly difficult to find like-minded individuals, save for joining a cult.

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Exactly.

Now do you want your vitamins via food that is GMO, growth hormones, and pesticides? I know that can be considered stupid, but GMO will be a big concern soon enough. The message about GMOs is controlled via Monsanto, money and political influence. Remember Monsanto spent millions on defeating a proposed label change in California that would require foods to be labeled as GMO. Give the consumer the choice, but that failed. One would say that if Monsanto was really proud of their products, they would have no problem having 'GMO by MONSANTO' written on the label.

But, one might consider my line of reasoning stupid. Some would say the science is settled on GMO's but I really think that is not the case.

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Let's take Shady' link about Rolling Stone's article as an example of what I getting at.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/11/the-full-demise-of-rolling-stones-rape-story/

Publications can be excused for getting things wrong; that happens all the time. What’s inexcusable, however, is that in this case, Rolling Stone did nothing to stave off catastrophic error. As The Post reports, the friends were “never contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors,” meaning that neither Erdely nor the magazine’s fact-checkers lifted a finger to check with the story’s most obvious source of corroboration. In a “note to readers” following the collapse of the story, Rolling Stone acknowledged that it didn’t attempt to contact the alleged assailants in deference to the wishes of Jackie.

Goes back to my point about real investigative journalism. Does not exist anymore in the main stream news media.

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Now do you want your vitamins via food that is GMO, growth hormones, and pesticides? I know that can be considered stupid, but GMO will be a big concern soon enough.

There's actually zero evidence that what you're talkinga bout is a problem, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. Without GMO, the world starves.

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For the most part the MSM may tell the story, but they leave out specific points that would trash the whole angle of the

piece that was being written.

That can certainly happen. But that's why you get your news from multiple sources. I used to read the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. You got both sides of a story, then. You can read the Globe and Mail, the Post and the BBC online. There are a number of different sources available, and unless you're postulating a grand conspiracy, using them pretty much cancels out one reporter or organization slanting the news piece.

So, is the Internet making us stupid? Did TV make you dumb?

Yes, it did. Instead of reading a politician's words from a speech, we would get chunks of it as selected by the TV news. Then that shrank and shrank until we basically just get a quick summary in the reporter's words. How can that not make us dumb? With the advent of TV it became more important how a politician looks than what he or she had to say, since most people would never get to hear them anyway.

The Internet allows for two way dialogue between anyone. Traditional media still has a very controlled method for releasing information.

Two way dialogue between people who are slanting their informaion, and credulous people who don't understand it, hardly helps.

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