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Posted: 22 January 2017 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A dying art

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Posted: 22 January 2017 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Dave Wilton - 22 January 2017 05:10 AM

A dying art

Preceded by the lost art of handwriting and perhaps a more serious prevalence: http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/media-and-entertainment/is-reading-a-lost-art

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Posted: 23 January 2017 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That article is eight years old, and one shouldn’t take articles on such topics seriously unless they’re accompanied by links to peer-reviewed research providing evidence for the assertions. Any yahoo can opine on such topics, and many do.

In particular this one conflates reading and listening to audio books. They not the same thing and use different mental processes. He also fails to recognize that reading the web is actually reading.

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Posted: 23 January 2017 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That article is eight years old, and one shouldn’t take articles on such topics seriously unless they’re accompanied by links to peer-reviewed research providing evidence for the assertions. Any yahoo can opine on such topics, and many do.
In particular this one conflates reading and listening to audio books. They not the same thing and use different mental processes. He also fails to recognize that reading the web is actually reading.

The fact that it’s eight years old doesn’t invalidate the premise. If anything, it should be more of a concern, because more people today are addicted to technology, and I do take it seriously because I’ve had the same experience. The article, which I submitted, refers to an article, written by David L. Ulin who makes a living reviewing books.  The article also refers to another article in the Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr who also claims that his “…concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages.” It seems that deep reading that used to be easy has now become a struggle. I don’t recall a reference to conflating audio books with reading.

He also fails to recognize that reading the web is actually reading.

But he does recognize it, because it’s not about reading, it’s about reading books, which affect long-term memory and deep thinking.
Deep thinking is predicated on rumination, reflection and cogitation, contrary to the requirements set by Internet usage for intellectual assimilation.
After all, culture must be cultivated and cultivation is a very slow process.

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Posted: 25 January 2017 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The fact that it’s eight years old doesn’t invalidate the premise.

That’s not what I’m saying. The fact that it’s eight years old means that it can’t reflect the current state of affairs. Our understanding of human cognition is changing at a rapid pace. Eight years is an eternity. We know so much more today than we did in 2009.

The article, which I submitted, refers to an article, written by David L. Ulin who makes a living reviewing books.  The article also refers to another article in the Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr who also claims that his “…concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages.”

None of these are peer-reviewed, nor (as far as I can tell) do any of these sources refer to peer-reviewed literature on the subject. The study of cognition, by the very nature of its subject, is susceptible to all sorts of biases and misperceptions. One needs to take extreme care and rigor to examine the subject properly. It’s not a subject that a book reviewer ruminating from an armchair can make a substantive contribution to.

It seems that deep reading that used to be easy has now become a struggle.

I will grant this, but the question is how much of a problem is this? The brain is “plastic” and is constantly changing, adapting to new circumstances. What’s not clear is how permanent these changes are. Can the reader get back to “deep reading” with a little bit of practice? My understanding is that the answer is yes, and with only a minimum of effort.

I don’t recall a reference to conflating audio books with reading.

In the suggestions he writes, “encourage each other to use ‘drive time’ to and from work to listen to audio books.” Listening and reading are very different mental tasks. If he understood anything about the brain (i.e., was competent to write about the subject), he wouldn’t be making this suggestion in this context. (I’ve nothing against listening to audio books, but doing so is not going to hone your reading skills.)

[ Edited: 25 January 2017 07:33 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 25 January 2017 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The fact that it’s eight years old doesn’t invalidate the premise.

The fact that it’s by David Boehi, “a senior editor at FamilyLife and editor of the HomeBuilders Couples Series,” invalidates the use of anyone’s time to bother reading it.  Why would you take seriously a thumbsucker from FamilyLife?  If you want to know what’s going on in a field, read actual material from the field, not thirdhand lazy journalism about it.

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Posted: 25 January 2017 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The fact that it’s by David Boehi, “a senior editor at FamilyLife and editor of the HomeBuilders Couples Series,” invalidates the use of anyone’s time to bother reading it.  Why would you take seriously a thumbsucker from FamilyLife?  If you want to know what’s going on in a field, read actual material from the field, not thirdhand lazy journalism about it.

As I previously mentioned, the article by FamilyLife referred to an article written by David L.Ulin, book critic for the LA Times. Ulin is responsible for the article, not FamilyLife, they just resubmitted his piece and commented on it. Therefore, I have to assume you did not read the article. Why would you assert that Ulin’s piece is lazy journalism? I do indeed take Ulin’s article seriously because I’ve had the same experience. By the way, I have read actual material from “the field” and many concur with Ulin’s theory.

I have no horse in this race, but it’s a debatable issue, and I do believe it’s a problem. I observe the majority of people on their smartphones, texting, playing games, doing whatever, but I’m quite certain they’re not reading The Brothers Karamazov. I’m not prognosticating a catastrophe, I’m just concurring with an opinion that I’ve experienced.

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Posted: 25 January 2017 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Ulin is responsible for the article, not FamilyLife, they just resubmitted his piece and commented on it.

No, that’s not true. (Or it’s an “alternative fact,” as the kids are calling it these days.) The article refers to and quotes form Ulin’s article, as it refers and quotes from Carr’s Atlantic article, but Boehi adds substantial material of his own. It’s not a republication of those articles.

(Also, it doesn’t link to the LA Times or Atlantic articles, which not only shows bad netiquette, but makes it difficult for readers to ascertain whether or not the quotes and characterizations from and of those articles are correct.)

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Posted: 26 January 2017 12:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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No, that’s not true. (Or it’s an “alternative fact,” as the kids are calling it these days.) The article refers to and quotes form Ulin’s article, as it refers and quotes from Carr’s Atlantic article, but Boehi adds substantial material of his own. It’s not a republication of those articles.

Correct, but Boehi is referring to Ulin’s and Carr’s articles as a basis for his article. He’s opining about what he thinks might be a problem and using Ulin and Carr as corroboration. Regardless, it’s irrelevant if Boehi’s editorial is considered “lazy thirdhand journalism”, as Languagehat so eloquently categorized it, because the premise has been countenanced by many other writers who have a little more credibility.

(Also, it doesn’t link to the LA Times or Atlantic articles, which not only shows bad netiquette, but makes it difficult for readers to ascertain whether or not the quotes and characterizations from and of those articles are correct.)

But you are wrong, because Boehi does provide a link in the second paragraph to both Ulin and Carr’s articles

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Posted: 26 January 2017 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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using Ulin and Carr as corroboration

That’s the point. These are not good sources. They’re not experts in the field. They rely on anecdotes, not data. They produce an intriguing hypothesis, but no solid evidence for their conclusion. This is journalism masquerading as science.

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Posted: 26 January 2017 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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That’s the point. These are not good sources. They’re not experts in the field.

Exactly.  That’s why I called it thirdhand and not secondhand.  If you want accurate knowledge, don’t go to journalists (which includes book reviewers).

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Posted: 26 January 2017 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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That’s the point. These are not good sources. They’re not experts in the field. They rely on anecdotes, not data. They produce an intriguing hypothesis, but no solid evidence for their conclusion. This is journalism masquerading as science.

Exactly.  That’s why I called it thirdhand and not secondhand.  If you want accurate knowledge, don’t go to journalists (which includes book reviewers).

Why would you categorize them as journalists? Nicholas Carr is a writer, who has written many books on technology and business in general. Ulin is a book critic, author and editor; he’s not identified as a journalist and neither is Carr. They’re offering their opinion based on personal experience and research. Furthermore, Carr’s research and sources are quite reliable, and many are experts in the field.
Despite those facts, it’s just a matter of opinion. I don’t know whether you’re just disputing the legitimacy of the source or opposing the viewpoint.

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Posted: 26 January 2017 04:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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What you need to do is go to the peer-reviewed research on cognition. People who write in publications like the Atlantic and the LA Times—journalistic outlets—while intelligent and smart, do not do “research.” They aren’t experts in the subjects they write about.

And personal experience, especially when it comes to questions of cognition, is worthless as evidence. All it tells you is how the person perceived their experience. It doesn’t tell you anything objective about that experience, and it can’t be generalized to a broader population. For obvious reasons you can’t trust what you perceive about the mechanisms of perception and cognition. The only way to gain reliable evidence is through controlled experimentation, and that is something that Carr and Ulin most definitely do not do.

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Posted: 27 January 2017 12:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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What you need to do is go to the peer-reviewed research on cognition. People who write in publications like the Atlantic and the LA Times—journalistic outlets—while intelligent and smart, do not do “research.” They aren’t experts in the subjects they write about.

I have no idea why you’re making those assumptions. Carr’s book, The Shallows, is extensively researched from numerous neuroscientific research projects. Furthermore, there are a few prominent scientists who have supported Carr’s argument, specifically in reference to his article in the Atlantic. You seem to be disputing Carr and Ulin’s arguments as if they originated the theory. The idea that the Internet might have detrimental effects on cognition is not a concept initiated by Carr and Ulin; it’s been put forward by others prior to their contribution.

And personal experience, especially when it comes to questions of cognition, is worthless as evidence. All it tells you is how the person perceived their experience. It doesn’t tell you anything objective about that experience, and it can’t be generalized to a broader population. For obvious reasons you can’t trust what you perceive about the mechanisms of perception and cognition. The only way to gain reliable evidence is through controlled experimentation, and that is something that Carr and Ulin most definitely do not do.

Again, you’re challenging Carr and Ulin’s reliability, rather than the premise.
As I mentioned before, I don’t know whether you’re playing the devil’s advocate or that you’re refuting the argument.

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Posted: 27 January 2017 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Nice pivot, BTW. We started with Boehi, but are now discussing Carr and Ulin. Kudos.

You still don’t seem to understand the difference between journalism and science.

I’ve taken a look at Carr’s book. It’s still seven years old, so no matter what, it’s out of date. But I will admit that for a work of journalism it is well researched. He has extensive notes and uses solid sources (albeit, mostly from non-peer-reviewed monographs rather than the original peer-reviewed studies, which pushes the window of when the research he is using back to ten or fifteen years).

But there are two very good reasons to be extremely skeptical of any “X is making us dumber” argument:

1) Journalism all too often does a horrible job of reporting on scientific findings. There are only a handful of journalists who consistently do good science reporting. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that there are almost no “science reporters” anymore. Journalists who write about science typically write about all sorts of other subjects. As a result, they don’t develop an expertise and don’t have a feel for the scientific process and how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Case in point, Carr typically writes about Silicon Valley and the high-tech industry. That’s his beat. He doesn’t have a background in neurology or cognitive science, and we should approach what he says on that subject with great care.

2) The “X is making us dumber” argument reappears every time a new technology or genre of literature pops up. And it has always been wrong. We saw it with television, radio, the printing press. We saw it with audio books, with comic books, even with the novel in the 18th century, that evil corrupter of young women’s virtues. Hell, Plato told us that reading and writing would be the end of civilization.

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Posted: 27 January 2017 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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You still don’t seem to understand the difference between journalism and science.

Bingo.

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