An NPR article titled “Searching Online May Make You Think You Are Smarter Than You Are” focuses on a study a doctoral student in psychology did at Yale. The purpose of the study was to measure participants’ knowledge. The questions asked about their personal knowledge and if Internet searches added to what he or she knew. According to the article the results were that these people felt it added a lot of knowledge.
When I do an online search I want a quick answer to something I am curious about but do not know. Or another possibility is I have a hunch and I want to know if I am correct or wrong. Once I find out the answer I shelve it in my mind and either it remains saved or it goes poof. Or maybe I want to know something for a blog post I would like to write then I will do deeper research like I did on pearls last year. I read and reread many articles online and when I felt I had enough information in my head I wrote up the post. For a few days, one could quiz me on pearls and I would be able to answer those questions but ask me now and I will run into serious trouble.
Why? Because the information I got on pearls was all short term information to meet a single post. I wasn’t looking to become an expert on pearls. If I wanted that I would have spent more time researching and I would have expanded it beyond the Internet. I’d have gone to the library to find books and articles to read over months or even years to be able to retain all of this information long term. Only after all of this would I feel I added knowledge. I do not feel a few short days or a week means I am increasing my knowledge and getting smarter. I would instead call it filling my head with facts or tidbits that may or may not stick long term.