Social Question

lloydbird's avatar

What effect has The Internet had on someone'Being Learned'?

Asked by lloydbird (8706 points ) April 14th, 2012

If you are (or think so) ‘learned’, do you suspect that some hard acquired fact that you impart might be dismissed and devalued as just something that you looked up?
How do you feel about this situation?

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14 Answers

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m going to Google a very educated and learned response to this question.

Akua's avatar

I don’t worry about it being dismissed. after all the answer had to get researched in some fashion. It shouldn’t make a difference whether I found the knowledge at the library or online. The point is I found it. I think seeking the knowledge is just as important as where you get it.

Jeruba's avatar

Do you mean do I care if I pulled something out of the vast body of esoteric knowledge stored in my head, and somebody else thinks I just googled it?

I don’t think I do. I might have a meaningful context for it in my brain, along with associations, connotations, interpretations, interpolations, and a corpus of relevant knowledge, and if so, that might be apparent in the course of the discussion.

Or I might have essentially just googled my brain for it, in which case it could be even more random and disconnected than a fact I found online.

I think the Internet means that a lot of people have access to information they haven’t acquired by hard study, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as they make a little effort to tell the real thing from the abundant crap.

gailcalled's avatar

Being learned is very different from having a long list of facts available to reel off.

A fact, in isolation, is not very interesting.

However, a fact, when embedded in a paragraph of @Jeruba‘s is guaranteed to be fascinating.

My sister asked me the other day whether I knew what “limn” meant. We were not near a computer but, as it happens, I did. We discussed the meaning, the etymology, the uses, the synonyms and the way in which she was able to paint a peppermint drop wrapped in cellophane, a glass filled with beer and one gooseberry. Our conversation was launched by the original simple question.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve never worried about something I said being dismissed for any reason, perhaps because I know that people will take what they need from what I say and the rest will stay there for the next person to read, and hopefully use.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not learned, although I have been accused of it. I think the idea is bullshit. We know what we know, and either we can explain why we know it, or it’s bullshit. If someone else accepts what I say, fine. If they are skeptical, fine. They should be skeptical. I want people to be skeptical of me. In fact, you’re an idiot if you are not skeptical of me.

Be warned. I will mess with you. I might be telling the truth and I might be messing with you. Don’t take anything I say on faith. Well, you can, but that would make you into an idiot. I don’t care if you want to be an idiot.

So sometimes I am serious and sometimes I am messing with you. I’m not going to tell you which it is. You have to figure it out. Don’t worry. You’re not being picked on. It’s the same for everyone else in my life, including my kids. They are being raised to be skeptical. They should always verify everything I say.

As to shit I look up on the internet? I don’t believe it, unless it makes sense or unless I verify it. But just because I verified it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to verify it. You need to verify it, too or else you’re an idiot.

So honestly, I really don’t give a shit whether you think I looked something up on the internet or not. If you can’t be bothered to ask, then I may or may not tell you. But normally I am scrupulously honest about how I gather information. Often, I can not remember where I got it from and then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to trust that I am accurately passing on some piece of information I may or may not remember correctly. Mostly, you should assume I’ve got it wrong, unless you have verifying information. If you believe me just because I say you, yes, you’re an idiot.

So tell me, @lloydbird. Are you an idiot? Did I get this from the internet? Did I make it up? Am I telling the truth? I’ll tell you this for free. If you take this as truth, without verifying it, you’re an idiot. Don’t they teach you that in school? Or are they idiots, too? Look it up.

Oh yeah. Under the orange tree.

SmashTheState's avatar

When I was young, my parents forbade me to read. They would check up on me at night because I’d hide under the covers with a booklight, reading. They’d take my books away from me and force me to go outside to play street hockey, bribing me by telling me I could read a book if I spent an hour playing. As a result, from the day I was thrown out at the age of 17, I’ve read an average of a book a day for the last 27 years.

Having read approximately 10,000 books on every conceivable (and some inconceivable) topic, I am extremely well-educated on a very wide variety of subjects. But despite having a prodigious mental store of information, I am never referred to as “intellectual.” I am, however, constantly referred to as “pseudo-intellectual.” In point of fact, I cannot ever recall a single instance of someone being accredited as being intellectual. The prefix “pseudo-” is always tacked on. This leads me to believe that the Dunning-Kruger effect has become the standard, and that as a result, our culture no longer has any way to objectively recognize actual proficiency.

The answers I read on Fluther constantly bear witness to the tragic effect of Dunning-Kruger, as people come to believe that simply possessing an opinion makes them qualified to not only give an answer, but to disregard the answers of people who have actual expertise in the subject under discussion. Fluther is a case in point of how the Internet has, through its levelling of the playing field, made it impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. The fact that an answer gets multiple “great answers” here only serves as a popularity contest, and in fact I oftentimes find that the best, most informative, and well-researched answers get very little attention, lost in a sea of unqualified opinions.

I was having a discussion on IRC today with someone about whether or not Adolf Hitler could be plausibly categorized as being left or right, which lead to discussions about the meaning of the words, about whether Hitler and the Nazi Party shared identical politics, and so on. As part of my argument, I tried to find the actual 25 tenets of the platform of the Nazi Party. To my astonishment, I could not find it. After scanning through 55 pages of Google searches, I found astonishing and alarming numbers of conservative screeds cherry-picking a handful of Nazi Party tenets in an attempt to compare them to the policies of Barrack Obama, but the actual document is now buried so deeply in Fox News-style ignorance and hysterics that I could not find it.

That is the effect the Internet has had on “being learned.”

lillycoyote's avatar

@SmashTheState You have been able to; managed to read, on average, an entire book, every day, each day, for the past 27 years? An entire book a day? That is really extraordinary! Honestly, that is quite a feat. It usually takes me at least 3 or 4 days, at best, to a week or more to get through an entire book.

And it must be very, very difficult for someone of your intelligence, and depth and breadth of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, someone with your degree of intellectual and cognitive superiority to constantly have to bear witness to the tragic results of the Dunning-Kruger effect, here and elsewhere. I don’t know how you can stand it; really, I don’t. Just your cross to bear, I guess.

SmashTheState's avatar

@lillycoyote I can read a small book in an hour, when I’m reading just for understanding. If I’m reading for pleasure, I’ll linger longer. There’s no secret to it, one just reads faster if one does it often enough. There are exceptions, of course. The CoPR took me something like a couple of months to read. It’s not something I could skim in an hour. And Husserl and Heidegger are pretty impenetrable.

As for my cruciform burden… well, I’ll let the scientist, Howard Aiken, speak for me: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

lillycoyote's avatar

@SmashTheState I’m not sure how the Aiken quote is relevant here. I suspect that Aiken was referring to original ideas; new and innovative ideas. Those are the kinds of ideas people generally fear will be stolen from them. People very well may have to ram good ideas down people’s throats. But you are working backwards in this instance, it seem; quoting Aiken here seems to imply that you believe that the fact that you have to ram certain ideas down people’s throats means that they are intrinsically good ideas. It doesn’t.

Jeruba's avatar

CoPR meaning Kant?

LostInParadise's avatar

As @gailcalled pointed out, being learned is not about facts in isolation. The Internet is a good supplement to learning. There is a lot that I have learned from it, including Fluther. As for me being learned, I consider myself wise in Socrates’ sense of knowing, all too well, the limits of my knowledge.

LostInParadise's avatar

@gailcalled, Very much off topic, but I think of the Apology as being too well written to just be regarded as a work of philosophy. It stands as a great piece of literature.

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