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General Discussion => Books 'n Readin' => Topic started by: Rude on February 10, 2007, 10:41:16 PM

Title: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: Rude on February 10, 2007, 10:41:16 PM
...

I'm reading a pretty interesting book called Everything Bad Is Good For You (http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Bad-Good-Steven-Johnson/dp/1594481946/sr=1-1/qid=1171065599/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-8892106-3766569?ie=UTF8&s=books)...

The author uses neuroscience, economics, and media theory to debunk the popular idea that Americans are becoming idiots as a result of today's dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. He argues that the pop culture we soak in every day - from The Lord Of The Rings to Grand Theft Auto - has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are making our minds measurably sharper.

It's a great book so far, and i'd definitely recommend it...

-Rude
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: AmandaGal on February 11, 2007, 11:57:13 AM
I tend to agree with Imrahil.  I'm an advisor for a teen group and even the "smart ones" amaze me sometimes.  I think about what I was doing when I was their age and it's so different now.  They can't even write in proper English.  I'd like to talk to someone who's been on a college admission's board for 20-30 years and see what they say.

Then again, maybe you have a point and there's a new kind of intelligence. Maybe we can't consider proper use of language and being well read in the classics education. Maybe watching LOTR and playing Zelda is now what makes you smart.  Maybe being able to upload music onto an iPod and update your MySpace page is the new IQ test.

Gods, that's scary.

Sounds like an interesting book though, I'll have to see if our library has it.  I won't bump into any of my kids there, for sure.
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: Rude on February 11, 2007, 01:23:20 PM
...

The focus of the book isn't exactly on conventional education. Reading and writing are always going to be very important skills, granted. But the book examines how our popular culture is actually more stimulating than it used to be. And how it presents cognitive challenges that serve as exercise for our minds.

For example...The way modern video games differ from traditional games, like chess or Monopoly, is in the way that they withhold information about the underlying rules of the system. So the child who comes home and plays video games is learning what the author calls probing and telescoping. They learn the rules and physics of the virtual world by probing it, analyzing that information and learning from it. Then they apply what they've learned in order to advance through, and ultimately accomplish the objective of the game. They're basically learning the scientific method~

The author also uses some great examples comparing television shows, one being Dragnet and 24, in order to illustrate the complexity of modern entertainment. He tries to show how we have become less passive viewers and more engaged in our entertainment by mentally mapping character relationships and threaded storylines.

Now, setting aside any moral argument... the question becomes whether the child who is steeped in pop-culture video games, television, etc. is actually learning more (or is more mentally active) than the child who plays outside after school?

Of course there are a million variables, and we could argue about it until the cows come home. But it's an interesting question, and that's why i recommend the book to anyone who's curious about the debate. I can only begin scratch the surface of the author's theories here. So go check out the book... it's a surprisingly easy read!

-Rude
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 11, 2007, 02:34:08 PM
your a big dummyhead.
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: Rude on February 11, 2007, 02:43:31 PM
your a big dummyhead.

You obviously play outside and ride bikes, ya' neanderthal!~  ;)

-Rude
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 11, 2007, 02:44:24 PM
the outside (and natural light) is scary
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: Minnesota on February 11, 2007, 02:53:34 PM
I once wrote a term paper about the benifits of television, this book sounds interesting, its important to question conventional thought (ie;how virtually every intelectual says that tv, videogames are bad for you then inturn claims that books are good for you)
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: AmandaGal on February 11, 2007, 03:20:35 PM
I just want to clarify that I don't think TV and video games are in and of themselves bad for you.  I play video games and watch TV.  Hell, I raised by my NES and I'd like to think I'm not a moron. I think you do learn things and with video games, I think it's proof that kids don't necessarily have short attention spans. 

There have been lots of papers on video games not being as bad for kids as some think they are and I tend to agree but I personally think there's a balance between that kind of stimuli and the other kind that kids need to learn.
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: davo on February 21, 2007, 09:26:52 AM
I tend to agree with Imrahil.  I'm an advisor for a teen group and even the "smart ones" amaze me sometimes.  I think about what I was doing when I was their age and it's so different now.  They can't even write in proper English.  I'd like to talk to someone who's been on a college admission's board for 20-30 years and see what they say.

that's because our education system is a wreck. at least in the US.
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: Tyrant on February 21, 2007, 10:40:01 AM

   That sounds like an absolutely fascinating concept, Rude. Once I'm done with World War Z (the Z is for Zombie!!!  >:D), I might just pick this gem up.

 
    As a sidenote, I think humanity is as intelligent as it always is. Different social changes bring about different types of intelligence because every generation adapts to those changes to survive (which, I bet, is the conclusion of the book Rude is recommending). No one who wasn't royalty could read in the Dark Ages, but those same people probably knew a heck of a lot more about farming and building awesome cathedrals than any of us do now.

   So the kids these days might not be able to write in proper English, but they could probably code their own operating system.
Title: Re: Everything Bad Is Good For You
Post by: sarcasm_made_Easy on February 21, 2007, 06:45:09 PM
Quote
but those same people probably knew a heck of a lot more about farming and building awesome cathedrals than any of us do now.

probably not more than OUR farmers and OUR architects.  I think info is just more specialized now.