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Neil Postman (1984) in his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death" points out the increasing dependence on technology for answers in today's society, leading to a lack of awareness about our own knowledge and wisdom. This shift towards relinquishing our ability to think independently was first discussed by Aldous Huxley. The television and internet are major sources of information that often mix opinion with fact, impacting our capacity for critical thinking.
As we process information, our thoughts and beliefs are influenced by the misinformation spread by others.
Despite being aware of the lies and incomplete facts, the truth often becomes unrecognizable. In his article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" from 2008, Nicholas Carr questions our ability to distinguish between human thinking and computer processing. He laments his own struggle to focus on books for long periods due to online information overload, making reading novels a tedious task. Carr references cultural critic Lewis Mumford's criticism of how the invention of the clock has disrupted our natural senses and instincts.
Are we surrendering not just our minds but also our bodies to technology? We are becoming reliant on others to provide us with information and dictate how and when we should act, going against our natural instincts and intuition that guided us for millennia. This dependency comes at a cost as we lose touch with the traditional wisdom passed down through generations via reading and writing books for thousands of years.
Books have always played a significant role in shaping our understanding of the world, challenging our beliefs, and providing us with knowledge.
David McCullough (2008) emphasizes the importance of seeking wisdom beyond mere facts, as true learning comes from delving deeper into the meaning behind information. Without books, we are left with meaningless data and words. Our ability to think critically and ask questions stems from our engagement with literature, allowing us to interpret and analyze complex situations.
Richard P. Feynman discusses how advancements in technology have led to a lack of critical thinking in science education, hindering our capacity to fully grasp the material we learn. Despite physics being taught in Brazilian elementary schools, students under Feynman's instruction struggled to move beyond rote memorization.
Our reliance on technology has made us lazy and dependent on others to do tasks for us, hindering societal growth and leading to a state of blissful ignorance. The real issue is not just the technology itself but how we use the wealth of information available through our devices. Rather than utilizing this resource to enhance our knowledge, we frequently ignore it. Fortunately, we can change this situation by turning to books, which hold centuries worth of wisdom and knowledge that enable deeper understanding and more efficient absorption of information compared to screens.
Engaging our minds while reading allows us to discover new ideas in every form of literature. Perhaps we just need to reawaken our amazing brain power which is often overlooked in this age of technology. Despite the vast amount of information available to us through technology, our brains have the incredible capacity to store a wealth of knowledge. Even if we lack certain knowledge, reading a good book can help fill those gaps. While our devices provide us with a never-ending stream of data, it is essential to learn how to maximize this information for our benefit. By thinking critically and continuing to learn, we can ensure our personal growth.
In his article "Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts," William J. Perry, Jr. (1970) emphasized the importance of individual progress in order for the world to continue advancing and improving the lives of its inhabitants. He distinguished between "bull," which is information without sufficient data to support it, and "cow," which has data but lacks relevancy. Perry (1970) noted that our technology often contains "cow," while our minds are filled with "bull." By combining these forces effectively, we can achieve continual progress. Perry (1970) cautioned against the dangers of relying too heavily on "cow," describing it as representing total ignorance or knowledge that hinders understanding. He even suggested that no more "C's" should be awarded for "cow."
Perry argues that showing mercy is not always easy, but rather lies in clarity. He emphasizes the importance of becoming aware and recognizing cow, correcting it when it is identified. To achieve this, we must engage in learning from books and personal experiences to expand our minds and think beyond what is presented to us. By analyzing, experimenting, and teaching ourselves to think critically, we can progress towards a better future for both current and future generations.
Nicholas Carr's (2008) article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" is available as a PDF document. It can be accessed at: https://byui.brainhoney.com/Frame/Component/CoursePlayer?enrollmentid=1491373
Richard Feynman's 1985 work titled "O Americano, Outra Vez!" is available as a PDF document. It can be accessed at: https://byui.brainhoney.com/Frame/Component/CoursePlayer?enrollmentid=1491373
David McCullough wrote a document titled "The Love of Learning" in 2008. It can be accessed as a PDF at the following link: https://byui.brainhoney.com/Frame/Component/CoursePlayer?enrollmentid=1491373
Perry, William. (1970). Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts [PDF document], accessed from here.
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