Opinion – Reading Can Also Make You Dumb

The Internet makes us stupid. It robs us of our souls, leads to a flattening of our personalities and reduces our attention spans. This nonsense is now being spouted from an unexpected source: Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Internet-savvy New York Times.

The demonization of tools, not despite but because of their usefulness, is one of the more ludicrous phony arguments driving the recent debate over the Internet and digitization. Pocket calculators have diminished our math skills, some say, making us less able to do calculations in our heads than, say, people in the 1950s.

Computer hard drives and mobile phone SD cards are robbing us of the last of our memory abilities, most of which that damned printing press had already stolen from us. At the moment, GPS systems are destroying our sense of direction. Oh, the many ways in which machines are depriving us and causing our brains to shrivel. “We are outsourcing our brains to the cloud,” New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote last Wednesday. According to his logic, solving real-world problems — computing tasks, information storage and finding our way around — is a step in the wrong direction, because it increasingly softens our brains.
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