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Google this: The Internet doesn’t make us any smarter

Google this: The Internet doesn’t make us any smarter November 30, 2020

No matter how old you are, most people in modern society are connected to the internet. As a result, at home, at work, or in our pocket, we have tremendous access to information that seemingly is without end.

Need to check on a bus schedule, an obscure cultural reference, or a famous quote? It’s right there. Need a recipe using round steak, a book for a sick coworker, or a Bible verse for a child struggling with anger? Just open, type, and click.

Just think about what search engines have done for us. Vast sums of information are now available to us in mere microseconds.

Image by Rares DutuUsed with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

Mankind has always had a need and a desire for information. The accumulation of knowledge has been a quest for millennia. The oldest organized library in history was built in Syria – going back to 2,500 B.C. The Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt impressed visitors in the 3rd century B.C., accumulating 400,000 manuscripts from around the world. The modern Library of Congress was started with the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson and has grown to 838 miles of bookshelf space.

Today, thanks to algorithms, supercomputers, and the proliferation of personal computers and devices, you can find information on nearly any subject from anywhere. It’s not comprehensive, and it’s certainly not always accurate, but having that kind of information at a click makes us feel smart.

Access to knowledge doesn’t equate to intelligence

But all of this access to knowledge really hasn’t made society any smarter. We’re still blundering down the same paths of destruction. The mere ability to call up information does little to showcase human intelligence. We still make the same mistakes. And an over-reliance on instant information short-circuits the brain’s cognitive and reasoning power. This can’t be good for the human race.

Personally, I have found the search bar to actually to be limiting, even destructive.  For example, how many of us, when we are sick, search for causes and treatments on the Internet? It’s easy for a simple upset stomach to morph into food poisoning or a disease from the deadly Ghantu worm thanks to “helpful” searches. I’m certainly no wiser—or healthier—just because I can search for an answer.

Looking for Love in all the wrong places

I can read about the history of love, the nuances of the word in different languages, and the top 10 best love quotes, but none of that makes me an expert on the subject. I can search for “How to Find Hope,” and have 78 million results in .15 seconds. But all that access to knowledge and information doesn’t do a thing for an empty heart.  All the opinions in the world won’t keep me from making foolish choices.

Wouldn’t it be better to search for answers from somewhere else besides Google? What if I relied less on information and focused more on discovery which leads to wisdom.

I’m starting to revolt against the ability to act like a know-it-all. We’re planning to vacation along the California coast.  I’m trying to resist searching for the best restaurants, the best beaches, and the fastest route. What if we simply meandered? What if we talked to other tourists and locals about their experiences? What if we just “traipsed”?

Would that be so bad?

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1 Cor 8.1 “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.  But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.


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