Is technology making people smarter or dumber?
The effects of technology is a popular topic for writing an argumentative essay. What is more, when it concerns an argumentative essay on the effects of technology, Nicolas Carr’s article “Is Google Making us Stupid” is a “must read” source. Here, I give a short summary of the Carr’s argument and show how you can cite it in your essay depending on the position you take. Therefore, I give another source, which can be used to refute Carr’s ideas and support the thesis statement about the positive impact of the Internet on humans.
Nicolas Carr is the most pronounced writer, cautioning against the detrimental influence of the Internet on people’s mind. Carr stipulates the Internet is a “boon, which comes at a price”. Although it opens many opportunities and improves the speed of shifting the focus of attention, developing new neurological abilities makes people lose something else, in particular, the ability to think deeply and concentrate on the longer pieces of information.
The author’s argument
Carr demonstrates that the practices of skimming a text and bouncing from one page to another make people work faster, but not comprehend or memorize the information better. When people practice such reading instead of deep reading, they rewire their brains. Eventually, they lose deep reading skills, necessary for mastering complex concepts and critical thinking, and become shallower.
Should people or the Internet be held responsible for shallow surface reading? Carr suggests it is as the internet purposefully leads people to distraction by displaying highly personalized advertisements and suggesting clicking links and turning to another source before finishing the initial one.
What is more, Carr stipulates that the intents and the philosophy of the Silicon Valley are obscure. The author points out the fact that Google leaders say the company has overgrown its mission statement, but do not present the new one for public consideration. Therefore, Google may either rewire people’s brains to earn more money without any philosophy or consideration of outcomes at all. Or, it does it consciously, guided by a purely technological philosophy – to make a person a more efficient machine, to find a perfect algorithm for human functioning. The latter sounds like dehumanizing people though. This way, Carr implies, it is not an artificial intelligence that can develop to the level of complexity of the human’s one, but a human intelligence may reduce to the level of an artificial.
how to use in the essay
The source will be useful both to argue for the adverse effect of the Internet on human mind and to make a concession in the essay arguing for the benefits of the Internet.
If you argue for the benefits of the Internet, you should use this source with a refutation only, not giving much details about Carr’s argument. For example,
“Though the naysayers suggest the Internet has an adverse effect on our mind (Carr, 2008), the research shows …”
Or, explain main points of Carr’s criticism in several sentences (be careful not to devote more space than you devote to the opinion supporting your views). Then, state, “Though Carr’s criticism is rather sound, it is more concerned with the adverse effects of the shallow usage of the Internet than with the Internet as such”. Or, “Though deep reading may be more beneficial for human brain, people do not necessarily find time or wish to engage in deep reading nowadays/ there are facts proving people have started reading more books with the development of the Internet, etc.”
how to cite
In-text: The Internet … (Carr, 2008). Carr (2008) believes …
Carr, N. (2008) Is Google making us stupid? The Atlantic. Retrieved from web address.
In-text: The Internet … (Carr). Carr believes …
Carr, Nicolas. “Is Google Making us Stupid?” The Atlantic, 2008, web address. Date of access
The evidence from the scientific research conducted by the University of California demonstrates online searching increases brain activity. In particular, older people aged between 55 and 78 substantially improved their decision-making and complex reasoning tests after using the Internet for seven days only. Namely, their brain activity increased twofold. Therefore, the scientists suggest that online searching is a useful brain exercise, which may enhance cognition by triggering key centers in the brain that atrophy with lack of use.
how to use in the essay
The source should be used only in the essay arguing for the benefits of the Internet.
It may also be used as a counterargument to Carr’s ideas. In particular, one may suggest that people are not necessarily engaged in deep reading when they are not engaged in browsing the Internet. In fact, after schools years, people may be not engaged in any reading at all, leaving their centers atrophy with lack of use. Providing a wealth of interesting and amusing information, the Internet appeals to people and makes them read at least anything.
how to cite
In-text: People … (Gaudin, 2009). Gaudin (2009) states …
Gaudin, S. (2009). Using the Internet makes people smarter, study finds. Computerworld. Retrieved from web address.
In-text: People … (Gaudin). Gaudin states …
Gaudin, Sharon. “Using the Internet Makes People Smarter, Study Finds”. Computerworld, 2009, web address. Date of access.
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