Is Google Making Us Stupid?


Is Goggle Making Us Stupid

What the Internet is doing to our brains

July/August 2008
Is Google Making Us Stupid?
What the Internet is doing to our brains
Nicholas Carr Jul 1 2008, 12:00 PM ET


Read the article and post your thoughts in a reply at bottom of  this blog post.  Reply to others.  What is Nicholas Carr’s point?  Think about the following when replying:

•  What is your first impression of this article?  Reply with your first thoughts?

•  What is your first impression of the author?  Remember, this article was written in 2008?

•  How many times a week do you use Google?  How about in a day?

•   Does Nicholas Carr make valid points about our dependence on the Internet and Google?

•  How does Google enhance our ability to communicate, research, and carry on our day to day activities?

•  Are we dependent upon Google?  Give some pros and cons to our use of Google?

Be honest.  Could you be as smooth an operator, as we all know you are, without Google?  Imagine life without Google or any other digital tool…life without a smartphone.  Be intelligent with your comments and back the up.


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31 thoughts on “Is Google Making Us Stupid?

  1. My first impression of this article was that it was long and it had an enticing title. When I began to read the article I found some very interesting points; Carr states that when reading” my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety…begin looking for something else to do.” I found this comment very true, I myself begin to skim an article that is more than three or four pages long. I do feel reading on the internet is distracting because of all the things one can do, but I don’t agree with Carr that Google is making us stupid. Google was created to help people find information faster, today we don’t have to go to the library to look in catalog cards to find a book with the information we need. Being able to have the information we need at our fingertips helps to make the world more technologically advanced and helps to make people smarter. I think the only thing Google could be doing is making us lazier. Carr wrote this article in 2008 I wonder what he would write today?

  2. My first impression of this article was that I was surprised by how much of what he is true. My first impression of the author was he is very well-spoken, and details his arguments very well. He states how people are not very much interested in deep reading anymore, and that he even finds himself skimming articles that are more than a few pages long. I agree with this because I find myself skimming what I read very frequently, not even on purpose. I think that I use google multiple times a day, whether it be to look facts up, searching for a phone number, or even if I just need a calculator. Google is a very resourceful tool, but I agree that it may be making people a little lazy. However, if used correctly it is a very efficient tool and cuts down on the amount of time it takes to do research. I think that, as a whole, we are better off having google a become a little lazy than to not have it at all.

  3. Personally, I do not believe the internet/Google is making us stupid. The world of technology has made many advances from the time this article was written in 2008 to the present time. The internet helps us learn many things and it educates us in many ways. Yes, we may become distracted easily, but we shouldn’t undermine the power of the internet. I do believe surfing the internet too much will result in people becoming inactive and may lead them to be somewhat unproductive. However, using google in the proper way and using it when it is necessary can be quite beneficial. I believe Carr is too hard on google. Google does not lead to stupidity, people being unproductive leads to stupidity. I use google every day and I find it very helpful. It is easier to research particular subjects and I learn something new every time I go on the internet. We are dependent on the internet, but I do not think it is a bad thing if one uses it properly.

  4. My first impression of the article is that I don’t believe google is what is making us stupid. Carr’s argument is that because of our use of skimming and using the internet’s shortcuts, we are unable to focus on things like reading a book anymore. However, it is more then just the internet that leads us to thinking this way. Carr is putting all the blame on google, which is a simple minded way of thinking. The real blame for our short attention spans is the advancement of technology. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information,the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. I feel this is happening to us more because of technology in general then just the internet alone. Technology is running our lives more and more everyday. We depend on our phones to wake us up and keep track of everything going on in our lives. Our lives are becoming so automated that we don’t have the same need that people in the past did of always needed to focus and pay attention to what we are doing. Most of the things we do today are because of the convenience of technology. Google may attribute to our lost attention span, but it is not the sole cause of it. I use google everyday and I can believe it contributes to our decreased attention span. I also believe that it only contributes to a small part of it and with the combination of all the other technologies available to us, it is actually becoming detrimental to us. We are dependent on google to the point where we can’t live without it anymore. This is also true to most technologies today. Technology is making us more stupid but at the same time we’ve come to the point where we cannot live without it.

  5. Before I even read the article my thoughts automatically picture an adult who isn’t very tech-savy waving their cane around at the younger generation of degenerates. Part of the reason was because it was dated in 2008. To my surprise I was wrong. The author talks about his own experience with the growing ability to have limitless information at the touch of your fingertips in a fraction of a second. I agree with what he is saying though, in a sense. Yes, our mind no longer has to retain so much information because it is so available. To me I think this is our brain using its power towards making our thinking faster and more efficient. Why think slow and hold memory, when you can think fast and search quick. I myself go on Google too many times to count, it is an extension of my own brain, thinking and obtaining knowledge. Google allows us to connect with so many people and we can accomplish so much in one day because of it. What I can do with google and a couple hours could take days, even weeks for someone without the internet. We are dependent on google. It is our nightlight in the dark field of knowledge yet to be learned. A sense of guidance. The only cons I see is that less people are wasting there time, and that some people may look up the information and retain nothing at all. Whats the use of all this knowledge at the touch of our fingers if we do not take the information, if we no longer learn.

  6. Long, it’s too long for me to read but I have to so I’ll endure it. That was my first impression of the article, exactly what was said around the beginning. I’m not trying to be mean or anything but what he said was true. Most people now just skip an article when they find it to be too long or do what I did and just read some of it and never come back. My first impression of the author was where was he going with this? I was trying to figure out the correlation of the title to what he wrote. I found it in the very end and thought that the title should have been different since most of it was not about Google. Google is almost my life so I can’t really say how much, probably 70-80% of the time that I’m on the internet I use Google? That may be an exaggeration (the part about Google being my life) but it’s close enough to being true because I’m on the internet for about 60-70% on an average daily basis. We use it so much that me and my dad even joke about it. When one of us does not know the answer to something or just does not feel like explaining something we tell the other one to go to uncle Google. That’s how much Google has integrated in our lives, it is being used so much that we get most of out information from it. Which is also why Nicholas Carr makes very good points about our dependence on the internet and Google. Google is both good and bad. For one if we need to know the answer to a simple question we can go to Google but the bad part of that is that we become highly dependent on it for answering things that we most likely use it too much in our lives. It’s not only Google but a lot of other technological stuff out there has it’s good and bad sides. Also in the article when Larry Page said ‘“The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people-or smarter…’” I disagree with that statement. I think that “the ultimate” search engine should not be creating artificial intelligence but to provide the utmost efficient way of finding answers to questions and information on topics, but that’s just me.

  7. Google is most certainly not making us stupid. In the article, it mentions that people are having an increasingly hard time focusing on reading and being immersed in literature, but this is not a negative result of the internet or Google. The problem here is simply impatience. Humans now, in our modern age, cannot live without instant gratification. Research definitely took more work before Google, but it’s presence has only made our lives easier, and has definitely not made us stupider.

  8. I think it would be interesting to contact Nicolas Carr to see how he feels about internet and google use today in 2015. I wonder if his opinion has changed. Should we email him?

  9. This article touches upon a topic that is definitely important. The introduction of the Internet has brought about a rapid change in how, we as a society, go about accomplishing tasks, however; I caution treading into the territory that believes Google is making us “stupid”. While one can definitely argue that Google, and the internet is making us stupid, one can definitely counter the argument with the rationale that the definition of “intelligent” and “stupid” is subjective. I believe that Google is neither making us smart nor stupid, but rather, Google is ushering a new era where we must adapt and recognize that the past is not necessarily “smarter.”

    I believe Google is simply changing our lives and our priorities. In the past, to accomplish a research project or to learn something new, one must go to the library and find books. With the advent of Google, we have the library at out disposal in the form of the World Wide Web. This “world library” is both good and bad:
    It increases people’s access to information and knowledge instantaneously but at the same time, this access to information has shortened our attention spans. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds, compared to the average attention span in 2000, which was 12 seconds. This decrease in attention span may be a bad sign, or it may be a change for the better, allowing us to take in more information in a shorter period.

    Whatever the effect of Google on our brains, it is certain that we have become dependent on Google. I personally know that if I had to write a paper and use a book as a source, I would grumble and throw facts about how superior the web is compared to the archaic books (they’re updated in 2013, that website was updated 20 minutes ago!). The true measure of dependence on Google is not how much we use it, but our knowledge in using other resources as well. I will argue that if one only knows how to use Google (and improperly as well) then said person is dependent on search engines, however; if one knows how to use other sources, then one is less dependent. If one were to argue the amount of time using Google is a reliable measure of dependence, then I will give the analogy that you’re taking a trip from New York to California and you have the choice between driving and flying. Obviously the fastest and probably the most intelligent choice is flying and thus by associating search engines with flying and other methods as driving, one can see that Google is a preferred choice; but of course, as there are people who are afraid of flying, there are people afraid of Google.

  10. Google does not make one stupid.
    Though being a 63 year old vocational trades teacher of electrical trades persons what Google does is make one lazy.
    Type the question in and there is high likelihood that one will get an answer already formulated.
    Then copy and paste without referencing and claim as an original thought.
    Gone are the true reasearch skills and use of a school or public library, indexes, references et al to investigate the problem to arrive at a solution.
    Almnacs, encyclopedias, literature collections are now digitally available at the press of a button or app, where as before they could only be used in the library it self.
    Yes research was more time consuming but it taught persistence, tenacity and gave one time to reflect on the written word on the page.

  11. There are obviously two sides to this story, but I believe that Google is not making us stupid, and in fact gives the common person the opportunity to become smarter than ever before. Now obviously if a person uses Google for every question in life and does not try to learn or understand the knowledge and answer that Google provides, but if the person receives the answer and truly tries to understand why that is the answer, than that will give “us” the opportunity to become the smartest generation ever.

    Personally I use Google every day of the week, for everything form homework help, to just basic question I might create in my daily routine. If I was without Google, I may be having a much more frustrating time in life.

    Carr does bring up interesting points though, and I believe his worries are valid, but if every new invention brought skeptics to the table, where would our civilization be?

  12. This article is eye-opening in many ways. While reading this article I realized I kept going back to some of the things that I do when trying to research something online. Like Nicholas Carr states in his article, people are no longer interested in deep reading. People lack the attention span and patience to sit and read through an entire article or chapter because we are used to the internet giving us shortcuts. I realize that I am one of those people that Carr talks about. I do not like having to read an entire piece of writing because I think its too time-consuming. Even though I know that I could get more information on the topic that I am researching by reading an entire article or book, I don’t have the patience to do so because I get distracted by links, pop-ups, and advertisements. This is what Nicholas Carr discusses in his article. The points that he brings up are extremely convincing and have influenced a lot of people but as I went back and read the article again, I realized that I he does not address the many advantages of Google. Carr conveniently leaves out how our society has developed (positively) and progressed because of Google and its many features. This very omission of information makes me question his credibility. He bashes Google and the internet for being the reason that people lack the ability to deep read, making people more impatient, providing people with biased information, and being the source of online distractions. He does not mention that Google has more resources for research than any library, provides people with revolutionary and helpful features and such. Although I agree with Carr’s points and realize that I do some of the things he mentions in his article, I do not appreciate the fact that he does not mention the many advantages of Google that greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

  13. The point that Carr was making (despite his title, which is misleading) is that we’ve turned into reactors, rather than reflectors and synthesizers, of information, when confronted with an abundance of information. Think about this: did you react emotionally to the article and craft a response based on that, or did you stop to consider the validity of his remarks in the article?

    I have read this article maybe 25 times in the last four years. At first, I reacted to it. Then I sought to pick apart his arguments, because I thought they were overgeneralizations and that he made some logical fallacies. (He does.) After realizing that his logic is flawed, I’d saw that it still had a powerful effect on many readers–primarily because they identified with his narrative about feeling less of a “deep reader.”

    A lot of you are saying that you skim quickly and find info quickly and that this makes you smarter. The question I ask is: how do you respond to the information you obtain, whether it is on the Internet or from a book?

  14. Personally, I do not agree with the article because Google or the internet in general does not manipulate “how readers read.” The only difference between reading a physical book and reading off of a screen is that the internet provides more resources. I respect the author’s opinion, especially his use in noticing other bloggers experiencing the same thing and using it to his advantage. I use Google everyday for at most five times a day. Carr makes valid points about our dependence on the internet, but the reason why we use it is because it is easily accessible and extremely convenient. Google provides users with free access to video chat, web browsing, and as well as a social network.I agree that we are dependent on Google, but the internet has evolved so much that we can survive on other websites. Google just puts all the important pieces of the internet in one place.

  15. My first impression of this article was i agree with Carr that google has become very convient for us. We can use the web to find anything of our interest. But Carr does not really prove why he feels google is stupid. the examples he gives are very general and has very little evidence to back it up. My first impression of this author was that he felt greatly discouraged to use the internet search engine google, but i wrong he admits he uses it, but he is saying we are getting to reliant on it. I use google almost everyday for when i want to do a project, homework. It gives me very accurate search results. I just have to find the right one that interests me. Google enhances our ability to communicate such as Google talk, It is very safe because it has a anti virus checker so we don’t click on a virus in a link. I feel we are very dependent on Google. Almost everyone uses it to find what they are interested in. There is a saying “if you don’t know the answer to something, look it up on Google”. Some benefits of using Google are the faster we get information, we get more productive faster. Some cons of Google is that we do not read everything of what information we want. We go skimming to find what we feel is important. Which lowers our reading comprehension.

  16. My first impression of this article was i agree with Carr that google has become very convient for us. We can use the web to find anything of our interest. But Carr does not really prove why he feels google is stupid. the examples he gives are very general and has very little evidence to back it up. My first impression of this author was that he felt greatly discouraged to use the internet search engine google, but i wrong he admits he uses it, but he is saying we are getting to reliant on it. I use google almost everyday for when i want to do a project, homework. It gives me very accurate search results. I just have to find the right one that interests me. Google enhances our ability to communicate such as Google talk, It is very safe because it has a anti virus checker so we don’t click on a virus in a link. I feel we are very dependent on Google. Almost everyone uses it to find what they are interested in. There is a saying “if you don’t know the answer to something, look it up on Google”. Some benefits of using Google are the faster we get information, we get more productive faster. Some cons of Google is that we do not read everything of what information we want. We go skimming to find what we feel is important. Which lowers our reading comprehension.

  17. A few of us have asked students in Writing and Rhetoric to analyze this essay over the past few years, and there are plenty of examples in their eportfolios. One of the things that I find in my observation of the article is that the title is an attention-grabber that doesn’t really convey what the article is about. (My analysis isn’t the only one, of course.). I don’t see anything in the article that indicates people are less “intelligent” because of the issues raised. More distracted, perhaps, and less apt to dig into an idea deeply than approach many issues broadly (which Carr defines as a kind of shallowness) but it’s more of a different kind of approach to thinking than “stupidity.” Lots of people buy into the “we are more stupid” stance, though–it comes up all the time in public discourse. Where Carr’s article succeeds is in pathos–pulling at the emotional reactions of the reader. He makes you think about how you feel about your reading skills. Many of us feel overwhelmed by information overload and unable to spend sufficient time on one topic. It seems to be why many students (well, not just students) find it difficult to write a paper longer than five pages.

  18. I would have to disagree with the angle the author of this article took because there are reasons that Google and the Internet are making us ‘stupid’ but the evidence he gave it seems that Google is making us more efficient and therefore smarter. I do think that the evolution from books to the internet has turned us into impatient readers but that doesn’t mean we are less intelligent because of it. I personally think it’s impressive that we can skim an article and still get the main points and from there we’re able take in more information about multiple subjects. I use Google at least once a day for both academic and social things and to me it’s second nature. If I have a question that somebody can’t answer, I Google it. It’s easy, fast, and reliable. Personally, I think this makes our generation more knowledgeable because information is so easily accessible compared to life before Google when the only way to find the answer was to look at a book or go out of your way to ask somebody and by that point the question would no longer be relevant. This accessibility has definitely made our generation reliable on the internet and Nicholas Carr is correct about that. It’s almost too easy for us to access information. I can’t imagine life before Google. I know I would not be motivated enough to have some of my questions answered. I think Google is a great way to keep the world connected by a push of a button and it helps open the world up to the curious. I think that Google is not making us stupid, but doing the exact opposite. We are now exposed to information that we would never have access too before and we can easily learn about different aspects of life at the click of a button.

  19. Google (and by extension the web in general) has made us faster at skipping to the next item of interest. We are less willing to abide boring (ideas and writing). If something does not grab our attention quickly, we move on to the next item because there is a lot of interesting stuff out there that we did not have access to before the Web and we could not quickly find it before Google.

    Overall we are smarter about our choices than we were before Google.

  20. I agree that Google has changed the way we think and ask questions. To search an answer, you can type in three words rather than typing a sentence. In this way, Google has conditioned us to categorize our thoughts into main subjects and as a result has made us smarter searchers. I use Google at least 2-3 times a day. Furthermore, I did agree that we are now used to reading shorter messages (text, social media) and fewer paragraphs in blogs. This doesn’t make us more stupid, this just shows how our attention span has changed due to advances in technology. Reading something online is difficult because you could easily open a tab and get off task. Like some of the other students in this thread wrote, Google offers a wealth of information and allows for the almost instant transfer of ideas on a global scale. The author mentions “Power Browsing” which is something I engage in when reading online articles. Buzzfeed “articles” in particular have made me expect Titles every 2 paragraphs. I was never a good skimmer or reader in general, but I prefer to be directed on the paragraph I’m about to read. Science research papers follow the title format and have a lot more structure. Should book chapter titles be a cliffnote of the text to follow?

  21. Initially when reading this article my first thoughts are that the author is correct. In his theory that Google or the internet in general has brought on a new type of reading called skimming. Completely different and easier than the traditional way of reading, I found myself skimming this article as well looking for the main topics throughout the article. My first impression of the author is that he has a clear understanding of the effects of Googling different topics and in its own way has taught us a new way of thinking especially while reading long pieces of writing. Despite the time period in which this is written his main point is still relevant to today because this new way of thinking that he caught on to in 2008 is now the norm in todays societies and educational organizations. I tend to use google a lot to search up new information I was able to collect throughout my day, as a search engine it is also my welcoming page when opening a new tab or window. I know that when using Google’s search engine I can find any website I may be looking for to supply me with what ever I may need. Throughout his explanation of our consistant use of the internet and Google Nicholas Carr mentions that the type of reading we do today which has developed from our new medium of choice puts “efficiency and immediacy” before anything else while reading a text. Google helps people to continue their day to day activities because if a person ever needed to learn something new on the fly in this speeding society they can have that information in an instant. We are disengaged from our connection to reading in the traditional way, a way that allowed us to absorb all information. Nicholas argues that our minds are adapting on the fly due to the use of internet. I would say the world is very dependent upon Google at this very moment, actually any search engine based website is the center of most peoples knowledge. The pros of Google is the availability it offers for most things you want to read, the con of Google is that not every source or link you may find is legitimate.

    • I, too, felt like Carr’s points were extremely convincing. The points that he brings up about people being too dependent on Google and not having the ability to read books or other pieces of writing. With Google, people have knowledge at the their fingertips and because of that people get lazy when it comes time to research. People go to Google and the internet for everything and anything they want to know. They expect everything to be short and concise while actually reading an entire article or piece of writing could be so much more informative than just the summary. So I agree that people are extremely dependent on Google.

  22. Stupid? No, it’s just changing us.
    Do you remember when books were made available for the public, or when the populace learned how to be able to read? No? Wait, never mind that, these events happened over 1000 years ago, no one was there. Our brains back then changed from only speaking a language to now being able to see the word in our head, and span a lifetime within a few hours.
    Well, now we can span an even greater lifetime in a fraction of the time.
    “Internet skimming” is a tool humans have learned to use to find what they like the best as soon as possible, and then from there they are able to read it faster than if it was in a book. The humans might not be able to get as much out of it, but with a couple clicks of a mouse, one can save it for viewing later.
    “But this changes the way we think!” Some people might say. “It makes us stupider, we can’t remember as much!”
    And to that, I say “so?”
    When literacy became available, we didn’t have to remember every single little thing. We were able to write on paper. Instead of doing math in our heads, we were able to write it down and show it to the person next to us to check our work. Now, we are able to share it in almost real time with people all over the world.
    My professor who is on vacation can approve my new math theorem without having to memories it. We could also make a program that once we plug some numbers in, it will be able to test the theorem much more efficiently, in less time.
    So are they making us stupid? No, of course not. At least, that’s if you count your computer as part of yourself.
    -Reese Rosenzweig

    • I completely agree! I think that the internet makes our lives so much easier and we are able to connect with people with the click of a button. I liked your example about asking your professor a question because before email we would have to wait days to get a question answered and now it takes hours and maybe even minutes. Being able to save information for later actually makes us smarter, unlike what the author says. Comparing the internet to reading is a completely valid comparison because reading has had a major affect on how we live our lives and I think the internet has done and will do the same.

  23. I strongly disagree with Carr saying that Google makes us stupid, it is not more logical than saying food makes us fat. Gluttony is what makes one fat, and over indulgence in the internet is what can make one stupid. You won’t grow dependent upon the internet for everything if you are capable of restraining yourself from spending every hour of everyday online. Dependency is developed habitually which Carr seems to have forgotten. The internet is probably our most valuable resource as intellectual beings.

    • Personally I use Google at least once a day everyday. I’m sure Carr does as well, but initially he comes over extremely hyperbolic, especially in saying that we as humans are like HAL the super computer. His point might have been valid, had they not been rooted with the belief that everyone that uses the internet is this crazily obsessed dependent person. Never before have we been able to speak to others across the world so instantaneously and effectively.A vast array of knowledge is at your fingertips, be it quizzical or completely applicable to everyday life. So no I do not believe that we are dependent upon Google; it is like any other resource, invaluable.

      • I completely agree with your thoughts. I believe Carr is being sort of narrow-minded by saying that Google has nothing but negative effects on people. Google has had a vast amount of positive effects on people throughout the world. I agree with your statement that never before has it been easier to connect and communicate with people around the world. Google chat, gmail, Google hangouts, YouTube, and such have revolutionized the world today. The fact that Carr does not mention or touch upon any of these positive effects makes him seem a little narrow-minded.

      • Raymond, elaborate. Why do you agree with Jane’s and Pamela’s comments? Why are they logical. Imagine you’re in a committee meeting with some high-powered clients. When you blog, think of the audience you can reach and influence. Make an impression.

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