Re: Smartphones Make Some Of Us Lazy Thinkers
I give a lot of credit to the authors of the study for keeping in mind that this is only one part of a very complex topic when writing their results. For starters, people were aware they were doing this for a study - that may already have colored their behavior. As Thomas points out, there's also the content of the questions themselves - drumming up meaningless trivia is different from solving real problems. I initially thought 10¢ on the bat/ball question, but caught myself before scrolling down to see that it was wrong. Did I do that because I knew it was a loaded question? Moreover, who cares? That's not the real price for a bat and ball, and why would a five-cent difference matter? There's an argument that generations who grow up with this technology will benefit from not wasting time, recognizing open-ended problems vs trivial ones, and being confident that they can solve anything.
I'm old/young enough to remember when my highschool teachers insisted on not using sites like Wikipedia for research because it was 'too easy' and 'prone to inaccuracy' - instead favoring shoddily thrown together flash-based sites with potentially ten-year-old information as long as they passed certain arbitrary 'scholarly' criteria. A good lesson to teach kids in theory, but not quite on the money when it comes to pragmatism. So yeah, I agree with Mr. Pennycook that self-moderation and self-awareness is key. If more research in this area could produce some habits we could use to sort of 'exercise' our brain to ward off electronic stupor (like looking out a window to avoid eye strain from screens), that would be great. I always look to Star Trek as a great model of the future. They have no problem asking the computer to make calculations for them, but they don't let it solve their moral dilemmas.