By Jessica Arciniega |Staff Writer|
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Or better yet, are you smarter than a search engine?
Searching online may make you think you’re smarter than you actually are, according to Matthew Fisher, a doctoral student in cognitive psychology at Yale University.
People can search just about anything online instantaneously, leading them to believe they learned this knowledge themselves, despite relying on a search engine.
“We think the information is leaking into our head, but really the information is stored somewhere else entirely,” said Fisher.
Fisher explained that online searchers believe they took the time to search and become knowledgeable with only a tap of a button. With that said, the Internet gives us a false sense of being all-knowing.
Fisher conducted a study with two groups to test out his hypothesis on how online searching affects our illusion of knowledge.
One group was allowed to use the Internet for a question survey, while the other group could not.
Fisher started the study with a simple question, “Why do we have leap years?”
He gradually increased the difficulty of the questions, offering more variety as well. The exact same questions were asked of both groups.
After each respective questionnaire, Fisher asked each candidate to rate their own intelligence.
The subjects allowed to use search engines rated themselves to be more knowledgeable on average than those who were in the control group.
We as a society veer off, asking the Internet questions, rather than asking ourselves if we have the knowledge to answer it.
“I think we might be abusing it in a way. Cause I feel people should be knowledgeable of simple questions.
But then again I don’t even know why we have leap years,” stated student Bianca Velasco.
Although the Internet has made society lazier in certain respects, it also has made information access more convenient when essential.
Users can view scholarly sources, the results of case studies, and fact-check odd facts with the intention of learning.
“I believe if you’re using the correct search engines it might not be the case of how searching online can make you feel smarter than you are,” stated student Mark Klopping.
In return, I asked if it could be beneficial to use the Internet with the right sources, like comparing the library to New England Journal of Medicine, even for simple questions asked.
Klopping stated, “they have the option of being more knowledgeable, and faster. People can use the Internet differently. They have a lot more information at their fingertips.”
I understand the reliance of online searching could be viewed as negative, but it may also be beneficial.
It could be negative in a way where we do not take the time do retain the knowledge we receive because it wasn’t necessarily earned.
However, it could be positive because, if we as a society wanted to research deeper, we have all the resources available at our fingertips.