Warning: brain underload

Photo by Flickr user star5112. Click for sourceThe Times has a long and tiresome article about how the ‘digital overload’ is affecting our brains which is only notable for one thing, it mentions not a single study on how digital technology affects the brain.

Imagine that. You can write 2,000 words for one of the world’s leading newspapers without a single established finding in the whole piece. Not one.

Actually, it’s worse than that, as this article contains an anti-fact. It cites the ‘email damages IQ’ PR stunt as the results of a legitimate study when it was a marketing exercise for, ironically, a computer company.

Rather oddly, a recent article from New York Magazine followed exactly the pattern (no relevant studies, email damages IQ gaff), but came to the opposite conclusion.

As we mentioned at the time, the studies on the effect of digital technology support none of this public pant wetting.

Journalists. Have you been affected by the economic downturn? Are you finding that it’s difficult to get your work in print?

Don’t waste your time writing about politics or the economy and be imprisoned by the tyranny of evidence – write whatever the hell you want about technology and the brain and get the world’s finest publications to pay your bills. Your editor clearly can’t tell the difference.

…and breathe. In with anger, out with love.

No, it’s not working.

Link to where do they get these people from?

4 Comments

  1. Don
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    “Don’t waste your time writing about politics or the economy and be imprisoned by the tyranny of evidence…”
    Truth is, fact-based reporting is woefully lacking in every section of the newspaper, not just technology. “Research” by today’s journalist seems to be scanning the first page of a Google search and going with the most sensational result.

  2. Posted June 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, I think Don is right. It is a pity though, as science journalists could educate the public about science if they were prepared to look at what the research actually shows.
    I did enjoy reading this – I love the way you write.

  3. Jennifer R. Ewing
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    The Christian Science Monitor recently printed a very interesting Op/Ed piece, written by a college professor, entitled “Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay” (http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0519/p09s02-coop.html). In it, the author discusses the phenomenon that, since the advent of the internet in general, and Google/YouTube specifically, journalism as it was formerly understood is going the way of the dinosaur. Instead, so-called “journalists” spend very little time checking “facts”, and simply believe whatever they find on their first Google hit. In the same way, ordinary citizens are searching the web to find genuine news that interests them, so they don’t have to waste time watching network “news” or reading an entire newspaper.
    That’s how I found the MindHacks website, actually. I set up my internet homepage to display various news topics. When my ISP offered me the MindHacks site as an option, I decided I liked what I read, and put your site as a link on my homepage. My decision to do so has been reinforced every day since. Unlike lots of “news” programs or sites, I think your site offers a generally unbiased view of the topics your site discusses. And, if there is a “bias”, it’s toward actual science, backed up by links or references to textbooks or scientific journals.
    It’s truly unfortunate that so many people willingly believe anything with a “science” label attached to it. I’m glad my parents raised me to have critical thinking skills, and I’m gladder still that at least one “scientific” website out there (yours) actually merits the name.

  4. Posted June 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Jesus. And why exactly was that printed in the Women’s section of the paper? Are they implying that it doesn’t matter that the science is crap because it’s only for women?
    Jennifer: You should read Flat Earth News. It’s brilliant.


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