Internet Blurs Line Between What We Know and What We THINK We Know

Who knew?

When I filled in friends on "free-range" parenting after researching it on the Web, I actually thought I was smarter than I really was. 

This, according to a new study, which has found that searching the Internet for information may make people feel smarter than they actually are, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

 "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," said 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."

Scary.

But it turns out that we're not just imagining ourselves as geniuses on the subjects we research but also on subjects we don't.  I guess the Internet has the ability to make us look really dumb in a really  lot of ways.

In a series of experiments, study participants who searched for information on the Internet believed they were more knowledgeable than a control group about topics unrelated to the online searches, according to newswise.com. "In a result that surprised the researchers, participants had an inflated sense of their own knowledge after searching the Internet even when they couldn't find the information they were looking for. After conducting Internet searches, participants also believed their brains were more active than the control group did," the website states.

Huh?

The use of Internet searches, not just access to the Internet, appeared to inflate participants' sense of personal knowledge. When the Internet group members were given a particular website link to answer questions, they didn't report higher levels of personal knowledge on the unrelated topics than the control group.

People must be actively engaged in research when they read a book or talk to an expert rather than searching the Internet, Fisher said. "If you don't know the answer to a question, it's very apparent to you that you don't know, and it takes time and effort to find the answer," he said. "With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know."


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