Social · technology

Steven Pinker Op-Ed – Mind Over Mass Media – NYTimes

There is so much buzz right now about whether or not we’re over-saturated with technology and gizmos and electronic thingamabobs and constant electronic feedback that it’s wrecking our brains. Some people have said absolutely, 100% yes.

Steven Pinker, a language, cognitive science, evolutionary psychologist working out of MIT and most famous for popularizing the idea that language is an “instinct” or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection, however points out that in some ways electronic technologies have helped us do better science, be more creative, and build social networks.

When comic books were accused of turning juveniles into delinquents in the 1950s, crime was falling to record lows, just as the denunciations of video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline. The decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously.

For a reality check today, take the state of science, which demands high levels of brainwork and is measured by clear benchmarks of discovery. These days scientists are never far from their e-mail, rarely touch paper and cannot lecture without PowerPoint. If electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting. Yet discoveries are multiplying like fruit flies, and progress is dizzying.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Mind Over Mass Media – NYTimes.com.

I have mixed opinions about technology and the modern world – I am a blogger, and I write for both hard-copy and online publications. Most of my paychecks have come from online writing. I gain unmeasurable knowledge and enjoyment from the Internet, and yet the most restful vacation I have had in years is three days in Boulder where the only technology I had was my cell phone and a car, both of which turned off the majority of my visit. My husband can hear the buzz of electronics at night and can’t have anything plugged in when he goes to bed.

What do you think? Any other links to people’s opinions on the subject?

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