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Internet search engines give people a wildly exaggerated view of their own intelligence

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(NaturalNews) Having immediate access to the sum of human knowledge and experience via the internet is inimitably amazing. However, new research suggests that being able to pull up almost any information with the click of a button could be making people more stupid while simultaneously imparting a false sense of self-perceived intelligence.

A team of psychologists from Yale University evaluated more than 1,000 students who took part in a psychological experiment on the impact of searching the internet. After being asked the question "How does a zip work?", some of the students were told to click on an internet link for the answer while the rest were given a printed sheet containing the same information.

Later, the two groups were quizzed on an unrelated question: "Why are cloudy nights warmer?" Individuals in the group that searched online for the answer to the first question were found to believe themselves smarter than they actually were compared to the group that read the same information on the printed sheet.

Experts believe that this phenomenon occurs because searching the internet puts people's brains in a type of "search mode" where they feel more powerful and smarter than they actually are. In other words, having access to the internet makes people feel like the wealth of knowledge therein is somehow part of their own brains.

"The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world's knowledge at your fingertips," stated lead researcher Matthew Fisher, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.

"It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet."

Excessive smartphone use is causing widespread cognitive atrophy, study finds

Experts claim that smartphones are making the problem even worse because people increasingly rely on them for immediate access to information in lieu of using their brains. Research out of the University of Waterloo found that people who frequently use their smartphones tend to use their brains less frequently, and vice versa.

They found that using internet search engines to pull up information makes people cognitively lazy and diminishes their ability to solve problems using their own critical thinking skills. The results of this study indicate that intuitive thinkers, or people who tend to use their guts to make decisions, also tend to use search engines to make decisions. Analytical thinkers, on the other hand, tend to rely more on their own brainpower.

"They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it," stated study co-author Gordon Pennycook when discussing what smartphones and internet search engines do to people's cognitive skills.

"Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind," added Nathaniel Barr, the paper's other lead author.

What is the solution? Spend less time searching the internet and wasting time on your smartphone and focus instead on actually reading and processing information the old-fashioned way.

"With the internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know," added Fisher. "In cases where decisions have big consequences, it could be important for people to distinguish their own knowledge and not assume they know something when they actually don't."






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