Delusions of intelligence

Today I got caught up in some work, so no long blog post yet. In the meantime, I offer this nice observation from an essay by Nicholas Carr;

It turns out that we aren’t very good at distinguishing the knowledge we keep in our heads from the information we find on our phones or computers. As Dr. Wegner and Dr. Ward explained in a 2013 Scientific American article, when people call up information through their devices, they often end up suffering from delusions of intelligence. They feel as though “their own mental capacities” had generated the information, not their devices. “The advent of the ‘information age’ seems to have created a generation of people who feel they know more than ever before,” the scholars concluded, even though “they may know ever less about the world around them.”

I was as naive as anyone about this possibility. When the first glimmers of the internet appeared on my horizon, I assumed one benefit of easily accessed information would be that people would stop lying because the truth would be too easy to throw back in their faces. Silly me! Just because we have access to it doesn’t mean we will proceed to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. Much easier to search, scan, and weaponize, not even bothering to consider the implications of what they parade around as evidence.


One thought on “Delusions of intelligence

  1. This situation is why I argued, a few posts ago, that critical thinking was important even for those who are not inclined to it naturally. Sometimes I have felt, in the classroom, as if all of human knowledge essentially has been reduced to the status of a newspaper article.

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