Is Google Making us Stupid?

In class we opened up the topic of whether or not Google is making us stupid. Modern culture relies so heavily on having a wealth of information at our fingertips that we take for granted the importance of actually having knowledge. In many instances, I believe that Google may in fact be making us stupid. However, if used correctly, I think it is an amazing resource and can actually help to make us more intelligent.

When used in a proper way, Google can enhance our knowledge and can open up a world of possibilities to us. Older generations used to have to go to the library for hours and spend time searching for the answer to a single question, whereas now we can take 30 seconds out of our day and have an answer to any possible question we could think of. In this respect, Google is definitely a positive tool and provides us with knowledge in a much more timely manner. Additionally, using Google to thoroughly search and find reputable sources enhances our intelligence. For example, Google Scholar is a good way to ensure that the use of Google is beneficial due to the use of reputable sources and scholarly journal articles.

On the other hand, in many ways I do believe that Google is making us stupid when used improperly. Many people get lazy and will just use the first link that comes up in response to a search. More often than not, Wikipedia is the first page that will come up, and many people will automatically consult this even though it is not a reputable source. This could lead to us obtaining inaccurate information, which would be a component of Google making us stupid.

Google is an amazing resource, but if not used correctly, it can do more harm than help. It’s important for people to understand what constitutes a reputable source off Google and to obtain information accordingly. If this is done, then the possibilities Google gives to us are endless, and it can help us become more intelligent with so much information ready at our disposal.

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The Pervasiveness of Rhetoric

In class we talked about how rhetoric is present in fields other than just writing. In fact, rhetoric is definitely present in our everyday lives in many different aspects. While when some people think of rhetoric it might be in a more academic setting, the truth is that we all use rhetoric and persuasion in our daily lives. For example, rhetoric can be used when trying to convince a friend what restaurant to eat at for dinner or what movie to watch together. Many common decisions are made on the basis of the use of rhetoric and how people have swayed our opinions by employing the techniques of rhetoric we have been learning about.

We also discussed the idea that rhetoric is present in different forms of art. This was seen in abundance during our time in Florence as we observed all the art exhibits. The way an artist presents their work can be viewed as a form of rhetoric, as seen in the different ways Mary was portrayed as time passed in the exhibits we saw. Music can also be seen as rhetoric. Movies frequently use music to influence the audience members’ thoughts. For example, the suspenseful music played in horror movies makes the scenes more intense and gears the audience up for what might happen. Likewise, the Jaws theme song influences the audience’s emotions and makes them anxious about an impending attack.

Aside from being such a large part of our informal everyday lives, rhetoric is also prominent in formal settings. Throughout my public education, I have learned strategies of persuasion. In high school we were instructed how to write persuasive essays and get our opinions across and how to properly back them up. Rhetoric is also present in many jobs like those of lawyers or teachers when convincing their clients or students to do or believe things. Clearly, rhetoric is a huge part of our lives and should be understood in much more terms than just being an ancient way of writing or speech making.

Rhetoric as a Confidence Booster

A term we referred to in class known as “major shaming” has become prominent in today’s culture. I was very engaged in our class discussion last week on whether there are real majors and fake majors and everyone’s unique opinions on the matter. I definitely agree that some majors are more useful than others. For example, we talked about the leadership major and the fact that it should be more of a minor or double major than in its own category. However, even though I would never choose a major such as leadership, I still believe it should not be referred to as fake. If a student is taking the time to focus on a certain area of study, it must be something of value to them or their future.

I believe what some people would term a “fake major” is a major that is broad and potentially mysterious. For example, many people tend to look down at English majors. I believe this is probably because of how broad the major is. What people don’t think about is the fact that such a broad major leaves a student with a multitude of options of what career path to take. Rather than limiting themselves to a specific career, an English major has many different options and routes they could take with their future. Additionally, I think many people would call a major fake if it appears to have a small chance of landing a student employment after graduation. I also disagree with this way of thinking because it should only matter to the student what their prospects are for the future job market. If they are willingly taking a chance at not being able to get a job, their major must be meaningful enough to them to constitute it as real.

I believe that as a society, we use such major shaming as a form of rhetoric. By putting others down for their personal choices, we are trying to convince ourselves that we we have chosen is worthy and not just a waste of our time. We use such negative judgement to feel better about ourselves and persuade ourselves that our future will turn out okay. When I think about it in this way, it’s very obvious to see how much of a role rhetoric has in my own self confidence and image through my own self persuasion about my choices and life experiences.

The Relationship Between Truth and Argument, Persuasion and Ethics

In our first class, we were asked to think about the relationship between truth and argument as well as persuasion and ethics. On the first topic, I do not believe there is necessarily any direct relationship between truth and argument. An argument can be made even for something that is false. An example of this would be in court where there are lawyers defending both sides of a case whether what they are defending is actually the truth. False convictions as well as a failure to convict the guilty show that sometimes even untrue arguments may prevail. Another instance in which an argument can be convincingly made for something that is false is in the realm of peer pressure. Many adolescents are often pressured into doing something because their peers convince them that doing it will make them cool. While this argument is certainly not based in truth, it is often effective and convinces someone to act differently.  Additionally, people may believe in different “truths”. An example of this would be the man we talked about in class who convinced himself having an affair with a married woman was okay because marriage is “just a social construct”. While this is the truth to him, many people would see this viewpoint as entirely false and thus reject his argument.

I also don’t believe that there is a definite connection between persuasion and ethics. I believe that persuasion can be both ethical and unethical depending on the specific circumstances. An example of persuasion being unethical would be purposely omitting facts that would hinder the argument. Despite this possibility, persuasion is a very integral part of our everyday lives in various situations where it is not unethical. For example, trying to convince your friend to go to a certain restaurant for dinner and presenting your reasons would be an ethical and everyday example of persuasion.