The brain in your pocket

Daniel Willingham, May 08, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Daniel Willingham has two tried-and-true tools he goes back to again and again: the unproven theory, and the artificial example. In this post he combines them to suggests that the internet weakens our cognitive powers. The theory in this case is 'cognitive miserliness', suggesting that "we think when we feel we have to, and otherwise avoid it." And computers in our pocket give us a new way to avoid thinking, leading to (he says) poorer results on some 'analytical problems' such as the artificial example he provides. I think the sort of study he proposes would be substantially misleading, because as our technology changes, the nature of the problems (and the thinking we have to do) changes as well, rendering moot the artificial examples Willingham uses so frequently.

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