So Pew Research Center, an academic center and publisher, conducted a study in February 2010 to gauge the public opinion on Nicholas Carr’s article - is Google making us stupid:
They concluded that the general masses do not support Carr’s theory that the proliferation of the internet as an information source and supply network is causing people to become ‘stupid’.
Based on the phrasing of the question asked - “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has not enhanced human intelligence” - I admit that I find it hard to argue against the results. I would find it hard to believe that the internet would not have a positive effect on human intelligence in the next ten years, if only because of the ‘unprecedented’ access to information that it provides.
The issue I have with this study is that it doesn’t examine exactly what intelligence means in the context of Carr’s article, or in the context of a physical being and human mind in the digital world. It identifies intelligence purely as IQ, rather than considering the deeper implications of the word.
As Carr states himself:
“What the Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence, away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence. The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking.”
The key phrase in this quote being “utilitarian intelligence”, or intelligence that is defined only by the need for its existence. Intelligence is often to be how much someone knows, and how quickly and accurately they can recall it. The majority of us realise, though, through our “contemplative intelligence” and common sense, that it is not merely knowing the information that makes us ‘smart’, but being able to use it in a meaningful way.
When we neglect to consider the full and complete context of the information we encounter, we fail to truly understand its intentions. A failure to comprehend means either a poorly constructed argument, or a weak mind interpreting.
You can find the Pew Research Center study, along with Carr’s and Google’s commentary here.