Essay topics: Adapted from Steven Pinker, "Mind Over Mass Media." ©2010 by The New York Times. Originally published June 10, 2010.
New forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers' brainpower and moral fiber. 2 So too with electronic technologies. PowerPoint, we're told, is reducing discourse to bullet points. Search engines lower our intelligence, encouraging us to skim on the surface of knowledge rather than dive to its depths . Twitter i s shrinking our attention spans.
3 But such panics often fail reality checks. When comic books were accused of turning juveniles into delinquents in the 1 950s, crime was falling to record lows, just as the denunciations of video games i n the 1 990s coincided with the great American crime decline. The decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades i n which I.Q. scores rose continuously.
4 For a reality check today, take the state of science, which demands high levels of brainwork and is measured by clear benchmarks of discovery. Today, scientists are never far from their e-mail and cannot lecture without PowerPoint. If electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting. Yet discoveries are multiplying like fruit flies, and progress is dizzying. Other activities in the life of the mind, like philosophy, history and cultural criticism, are likewise flourishing.
5 Critics of new media sometimes use science itself to press their case, citing research that shows how "experience can change the brain ." But cognitive neuroscientists roll their eyes at such talk. Yes , every time we learn a fact or skill the wiring of the brain changes; it's not as if the information is stored i n the pancreas. But the existence of neural plasticity does not mean the brain is a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience.
6 Experience does not revamp the basic information-processing capacities of the brain . Speed-reading programs have long claimed to do just that, but the verdict was rendered by Woody Allen after he read War and Peace in one sitting: "It was about Russia." Genuine multitasking, too, has been exposed as a myth, not just by laboratory studies but by the familiar sight of an SUV undulating between lanes as the driver cuts deals on his cellphone.
People have always harboured misconceptions about new forms of media,which includes newspapers,paperbacks,and television,that they are harmful for consumers’ brainpower and moral fiber.However,Steven Pinker does not agree with the opinion that new media is detrimental.
The author gives Powerpoint,search engines,and Twitter as examples to demonstrate that people always considered them to be potential danger.He claims people do not notice that after advent of new media crime level has declined,and humans’ average IQ scores have risen.He also states scientists,philosophers,and historians are also using forms of new media,and by the help of it these fields are flourishing.
By appealing to authority,Steven Pinker shows that while critics of new media tell experience can entirely change the brain,neuroscientists do not agree with them.He believes that experience does not have a significant effect on information-processing capacities of the brain.He supports his claim by giving Woody Allen as an example,who said “It was about Russia” after reading War and Peace in one sitting.Furthermore,the writer is of the opinion that experiences are influential to experiences themselves,for example music do not make better at math.Therefore,he says,novelists read novels,whereas scientists read science.
However,Pinker confesses that some features of new technology can be distractive.But he believes that peple can develop self-controlling strategies without avoiding technology,for instance they can turn off Twitter notifications.He also orders some solutions for encouraging intellectual depth.One of them is getting acquired in universities.
To conclude,while there is a widespread misbelief among consumers that that new media is destroying our moral and intellectual abilities,Pinker claims it is the only thing that helps us stay smart.
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