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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

IS THE INTERNET MAKING US STUPID?

IS THE INTERNET MAKING US STUPID?

I just saw an interview where someone was saying that the internet is making us stupid. To many this may sound ridiculous, but I could not agree with this individual more.

Do not get me wrong, the internet can be a very valuable tool, but in many regards and as with everything in life it is how one uses the internet which can make it either a valuable tool or a source of misinformation.

There is a lot of crap and junk on the internet. Case in point: very early at about 3:00 this morning, I was searching the internet to find information on passports. I came across a link which promised to give you the passport information of anyone in the world. They advertised on the first page that there were 9 billion passports issued and that in 2003 an international agreement was signed which requested that every country issuing passports to submit the names to a world wide registry. It sounded too good to be true and you know what the rest of that saying is.

It took a very long time to download the site and what would you expect? Reasonably, it would take a long time to download 9 billion records, so I waited over 20 minutes. Finally it was completely downloaded and I submitted my name. What came up could have been anticipated. Remember the completion of the saying “if it is too good to be true,” before me was the first page of my passport with my name and an official number, but the picture was not of me. It was a picture of a chimpanzee. Below was written” did you really think you could get a copy of one’s passport on the internet?”

What gets me is that someone went through a lot of trouble and expense to create this rather complicated internet site. And for what? It was a joke of completely worthless information. And there are many such sites.

How do you really know whether the information you requested is accurate and correct? Do you know the credentials of the writer or the group sponsoring the site? When you go to my internet site: www.drtauraso.com, on the left side there is a link to my credentials: Dr. Tauraso’s Curriculum Vitae. So you know who I am and what my credentials are. But then the only question you need to ask is: “Do I know what I am talking about?” Good luck answering that!

I use the internet to gather information from what I believe are credible sources and I help my children learn buy helping them do the same.

Another great problem I have experienced is when I do an internet search, up comes many sites with the information I requested in the initial link, but when I select the link, nowhere is there any information related to what I asked and nothing resembling what was in the link itself. It is a scam to get you to visit an erroneous site. This is the most frequent problem I experience when doing a Google search.

When I went to school, in the early grammar school years, then in Prep

School, and later in college, I was very fortunate in having received a very

good education. I was fortunate in having attended schools whose philosophy was to teach you how to think. I like to tell the story about an English Jesuit Professor who each week had us memorize poetry, and we were tested. The first poem we were given had 15 lines and it took me the entire evening to memorize it. I thought this professor was off the deep end and I could not see what all this memorizing had to do with learning English.

On the last day of class it was all revealed. The last poem we had to memorize was Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven,” – all 183 lines of it. The entire class, one by one, had to stand up and recite the poem from memory, of course. I memorized the poem in one evening. At the end the Professor told us he really cared less about the poems he asked us to memorize throughout the year. He posed to us a question. He asked whether we agreed that the 183 lines of Francis Thompson’s poem were easier to memorize than had been the first poem of 14 lines. The entire class agreed. And this was the “method of his madness.” As we ended that day in class, I appreciated for the first time the genius of my professor. He was really one of the greats at Boston College.

Both Prep School and College were places where I was taught and learned the discipline of using my brain and mind for the purposes of thinking. Where and when the internet is used for such purposes it will be a force of learning this art. As adults who teach our children, we must teach them the art of learning. With this comes the art of discerning how to get information and how to decipher that what we are getting is accurate and real.

About video games, many are mind-sucking inventions of the game creators. These are to be avoided. Good luck. Others are actually good mind training games which encourage the young player to create. These must be sought out. Monitor what your children are doing with their computers and let us not forget their cell phones which the youth are using more and more these days for communication and learning.

Those of us with children have the responsibility to teach them properly on how they can develop their minds to think – the art of creating thoughts and transforming these thoughts into useful items to be used in the world for the betterment of mankind.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.

Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic

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