Many technological advances in the modern era has brought up the question whether or not that the current generation of people under thirty years of age should be deemed as the dumbest generation. The sources given lack the evidence needed to support the claim that those under age thirty are “the dumbest generation.” The sources that are in favor of this make very logical examples depicting said claim; however, the author fails to support it using facts and statistics. The sources in which the author tries to disprove the claim utilizes facts and statistics from conducted experiments. This ratifies that the evidence given in these sources can deteriorate the original claim, proving that people under thirty are not the dumbest generation. Mark Bauerlein is an English professor and researcher at Emory University and he writes that young Americans are considered the dumbest generation. Bauerlein’s first statement in the excerpt begins by saying, “This is the paradox of the Dumbest Generation” (Source 1). He introduces some of the positives of young Americans such as “… life has never been s yielding, goods so plentiful schooling so accessible, diversion so easy, and liberties so copious” (Source 1).
As he concludes this list, he begins to state the original claim that people under thirty are considered the dumbest generation. Bauerlein should not have used the list of positives of the young Americans. This adds a place for the reader to attack and weakens the point that Bauerlein is trying to make. Bauerlein leaves another fragile place for a reader to take advantage of when he says, “… knowledge and skills haven’t kept pace, and the intellectual habits that complement them are slipping. The advantages of twenty-first century teen life keep expanding…” (Source 1). He contradicts the idea made in the first line with the use of the second one. If current people make advances, how can Bauerlein call this generation to be the dumbest? Using Bauerlein’s own words, it can be determined that he clearly lacks the ability to present and support his claim at an intellectual level. Bauerlein may have a tough time presenting his argument but that may solely be based upon what Bauerlein means by “Dumbest.” Sharon Begley analyzes both cases of “dumbest” and proves using facts and statistics that this is not the dumbest generation. Begley address, “…what Bauerlein has in mind by ‘dumbest.’ If it means ‘holding the least knowledge,’ then he has a case.
Gen Y cares less about knowing information than knowing where to find information… And it is a travesty that employers are spending $1.3 billion a year to teach basic writing skills…” (Source 2). Begley shows that it is crucial to specify what the term “dumbest” means to the author. This example actually proves that Bauerlein could be right if he defined “dumbest.” Begley uses a real world statistic to prove his point, making a reasonably well argument. This example also proves that this generation holds the least knowledge; although, this does not make the current generation the dumbest. If dumbness is delineated through its second definition, then this generation is certainly not the dumbest. Begley defines dumbness another way as “lacking such fundamental cognitive capacities as the ability to think critically and logically, to analyze an argument, to learn and remember, to see analogies, to distinguish fact from opinion…” (Source 2).
Begley defers to this definition of dumbness because this attacks Bauerlein’s claim. Begley mentions that IQ scores have been rising since the 1930s. Begley shows that dumbness is a choice by saying, “…since the tests measure not knowledge but pure thinking capacity…. then Gen Y’s ignorance of facts reflects not dumbness but choice” (Source 2). This outlines the facts that people are ignorant of learning new material not because they are dumb, but simply because it is their choice. Upon further analysis, Begley completely breaks Bauerlein’s claim by saying, “…there is no empirical evidence that being immersed in instant messaging, texting, iPods, videogames and all things online impairs thinking ability” (Source 2). Begley supports this statement by offering several quotes said by erudite professors of high-leveled universities. He mentions that a cognitive scientist named Marcel Just of Carnegie Mellon University says, “We are gradually changing from a nation of callused hand to a nation of agile brains…” (Source 2).
Begley also explains that Just informs everybody that technology exercises our minds, and provides a countless amount of information and that it improves the thinking ability of humans. The use of quotes, empirical evidence, facts, and statistics provides for a robust argument in proving Begley’s claim. Begley used many evidences to prove his claim but he did not use an experimental study. An experimental study offers strong evidence because it is applied to the real world. Clive Thompson wrote an article explaining the “New Literacy” of the current generation. In his article, Thompson uses an actual designed study to help strengthen his point. Thompson describes that Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, conducted an experiment in order to “scrutinize college students’ prose (Source 7).
Thompson explains that Lunsford collected writing samples from 14,672 students from 2001 to 2006. All the samples were taken from assignments that students had. Some samples were also withdrawn from chat sessions. Thompson shows what Lunsford thinks of technology by saying, “…technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it- and pushing our literacy in bold new directions” (Source 7). The conclusions of the experiment were stunning. Lunsford found that young people today write more than any generation before them. Thompson gives the reason for this is because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Lunsford also discovered that of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning thirty-eight percent of it took place outside of the classroom.
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